Being ‘Nice’ in HR is Killing Your Credibility
Tim Sackett

By: Tim Sackett on February 8th, 2016

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Being ‘Nice’ in HR is Killing Your Credibility

HR Shared Services

Est. Read Time: 3 min.

HR is usually put in one of two buckets:

  1. We’re the “People” People, how can we help you!
  2. Oh, no, here’s comes death.

There really isn’t anything in between. Most HR departments are either loved or hated.

I believe that once HR became overly involved with employee engagement, many HR departments took a wrong turn in how they wanted to be perceived by the organization. All of sudden, it was more important for HR to be liked, than to be effectiveBy the way, HR isn’t the only one suffering from this, most managers got caught in the same trap! “I need to raise my team engagement up, I don’t really know how to do that, I’ll just be nice and not put too many expectations on anyone.”


Sound familiar?

There isn’t a problem with being nice. You can be nice and get results. It’s when we are so nice that it actually hurts our results is the problem. Take HR Self Service, for example.

No one will argue that HR Self Service can save time and money for an organization, yet most companies still have not properly instituted a great HR self service plan.  Why?  HR self service forces employees and managers to get answers on their own. Well, that doesn’t sound ‘nice’.

We should just do that for them. We should just continue to answer the same question over, and over, and over. If we make them go find the answer and solve their own problems, then they won’t need us.

We fail at HR self service because we think it’s not ‘nice’ to our employees and managers to make them find basic answers to basic questions. We know the answer and it only takes a minute. Until that’s all you do all day long.

HR needs to stop confusing nice, with doing stuff for others that they could easily do on their own, with very little effort. In fact, the call or email they send you to get the answer is about the same effort they would need to just do it themselves. 

HR needs to find ways to increase their capacity to be able to focus on issues and programs that will really drive the bottom line of the organization. Giving employees and managers the freedom to find these answers on their own, helps give you back this capacity. Having this capacity allows HR to work on programs that have real impact.

Is this nice?  It can be.  Being nice isn’t about doing stuff for people. Being nice is a personality trait. Having employees rely on you for answers, is dependence, not nice. Not giving your organization all you can do in HR isn’t nice, it’s selfish.  


Nice isn’t an ingredient for great HR. Getting results is.



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About Tim Sackett

I’m a 20 year HR/Recruiting Talent Pro with a Master’s in HR and SPHR certification, currently residing in Lansing, MI. Currently the President at HRU Technical Resources – a $40M IT and Engineering contract staffing firm and RPO. Prior to joining HRU, I was the Director of Employment at Sparrow Health System, Regional HR and Staffing Director with Applebee’s Intl., Retail Health Recruiting Manager and Regional HR Mgr. with ShopKo Stores and Pamida respectively. I’ve split my career half between recruiting and half between HR generalist roles – also split half between the HR vendor community and Corporate America – So, I think I get it from both sides of the desk.