I’ve been in HR and Talent Acquisition for 22 years. The first job I had was working for a staffing firm recruiting technical professionals, so I thought it was completely normal being hated. I grew up thinking being hated in HR was just what it was. We were that one function in the company that wasn’t liked because of what we had to do, namely terminating people.
The first job I had in HR I was put in a position where I had to go into under-performing retail locations we were closing and let everyone go. Again, I was hated. I was almost ten years into my career before I found people that actually liked HR!
Thankfully, I got lucky enough to have a great operations partner in one of my HR roles who showed me the secret to being liked in HR. The secret was stop saying "No" all the time! In HR all we do is tell people "no" or fire them. At least that’s how others in the organization see most of us.
It’s the number one reason people hate HR. They ask us a question and part of our answer is usually, “No, you can’t do that, you can’t have that, or you can’t go there!” It’s why so many times in HR we find our employees and our leadership going around us. They don’t want to hear "No". So, they find what they need on their own.
So, sounds like a great "Business Partner model, doesn’t it?
Our reality in HR is that the job really doesn’t have to be that difficult. All we really need to do is make it easy for our employees and leaders to get the information they need. Instead, most of us try and make it hard. We make them come through us, so we can ‘control’ the information. We tell ourselves we do this so we can make sure ‘they’ get the right information and don’t screw it up. Again, the reality is we love to control information.
How do we get un-hated?
Say “Yes” to everything! Stop using "No". Can I fire Tim? "Yes, you can! Let me help you with that!" But, we don't say that. We say, “NO you can’t! You don’t have documentation. You haven’t followed the process. You haven’t…" They leave hating you. Say yes, then find a real way to help them.
Stop controlling every little piece of information. Find ways and systems that make it easy for your employees to find what they need on their own. If they really need your help, they’ll find you, and because your employees are self-sufficent, you’ll have time to spend with those who actually need your help.
Don’t allow your function to be hated. Some of the fastest HR turnarounds I’ve seen at companies had nothing to do with any process changes. It had to do with one HR leader getting hired who no longer allowed the company to dump on HR. Every function in your organization has opportunities for improvement. So, why are you allowing your organization to publicly display HR’s?
We love hating on HR because it’s easy. We continue to give our organizations reasons to hate us by making their work lives more difficult -- but, this is also why it is so easy to change that perception. We just need to start believing in a better, newer way to work to turn HR into the best part of your organization.
What steps are you taking to change the perception of HR in your organization?
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.