This was a question posed on LinkedIn that immediately grabbed our attention!
Human Resources, by its very name conjures up thoughts of talent, possibility, abundance and valued resources. Yet, often HR gets no respect (to coin a Rodney Dangerfield line). It’s that quiet group that you meet when you first get a job and when you leave. They represent the buffer between management and employees and are often in the unfortunate role of firing or carrying out difficult personnel policies. They’re told to understand the business, but often don’t yield the power to execute on it.
So, the question was posed on LinkedIn: Why is HR hated? There were great responses from HR executives, coaches and owners of businesses:
Amaechi Nduka-Agwu •HR: “I find that in many companies HR is the easy scapegoat for all things uncomfortable. A manager does not like holding a tough conversation or disciplining an employee? Let HR do it. ‘Performance managing my staff is so cumbersome – let HR do it’. Following proper procedure in selecting incumbents based on competency-based measures? ‘Surely that’s HR’s job? I trust my gut in making these decisions. If I’m wrong, it’s HR’s fault’. Etc.
In my view, it’s a branding problem as much as anything else. In organizations where HR is seen by the executive as an adjunct to steering the organization in the strategic direction the company intends to go, they are not hated but rather valued.”
Mike Gomez • business owner: “HR is hated, in part because it’s span of influence across functions and the difficulty associated with becoming a true business partner with all areas of the business. Their lack of business knowledge creates a lack of respect among line clients. The desired HR role of being a Functional Expert, Business Partner, and Change Agent is no easy task.”
Preeti Mehta • Project manager: Some people say HR only exists for one reason, to prevent lawsuits. Left to focus on compliance, human resources departments are seen as little more than police, something that annoys just about everyone.
One reason might be that human resources departments often lack the revenue basis of other departments. No income means little power.
Unfortunately, human resources are often forced to endure some of the worst parts of corporate life, enacting a constant stream of terminations. Their job is to make firings go smoothly, with desks and lockers cleared without incident.
Dawn M Dixon, SPHR • “Just reading some of these comments, makes me believe that even among my own kindred, I am a lone wolf. Am I really the only one that truly believes we wear 2 hats in the HR world? Yes we are there to protect the company, but we are also there to protect the employees. We are their voice, their advocates. I will not stand by or implement a policy just because leadership wants to if I know that it will be detrimental to the staff, or violate their rights in any way.
We are not ‘Yes’ men & women – just to protect our own jobs. When did it come to this? I may get flamed for commenting here, but, really? Our employees are our largest asset. They are the ONLY asset with legs who can walk out that door at any time. If your focus is not on them… your focus is in the wrong place.”
Charlie Allenson •Coach: “Dawn — Kudos for the job you’re doing, and perhaps the company you’re doing it for. The sad apparent truth is that far too often HR becomes the hatchet man or woman for short-sighted thinking and actions from upper management. I may have mixed too many metaphors there.
Think about this. When was the last time you heard of an HR person (not you) not being complicit in figuring out a way to let someone go because someone upstairs thinks that person too old (even though they’re doing an exemplary job) and not get sued for it?
Dawn M Dixon, SPHR • “All of us, I’m sure, have found ourselves in a situation at least once where we were not supported from the top! It’s completely frustrating. Throughout all the training we receive as HR folks, we are constantly being taught to speak the language of the execs. Put it in terms they will understand… but what about them? Why can’t they take strides to understand the HR side of the business?? It’s extremely frustrating to apply Covey’s mentality of seek to understand then be understood when the other party never reciprocates. And how many times have I sat in a class wishing my mgmt. team were in there with me …
But yes, from the top. The health of an organization starts at the top and when HR isn’t supported and constantly has to justify every move they make… then you start to see this phenomenon of employees disliking the HR department.”
Refreshingly frank conversations and food for thought. To all you business leaders…listen up! What’s your HR experience?