We have all heard the jokes, Human Resource departments and their inhabitants are very often the most despised people in any workplace. I’ve been referred to as Human Remains and the like. And in my experience this problem typically stems from two places.
The first place, is a universal lack of leadership skills amongst all those folk out there who have very quickly taken the promotion and now wield the title “Manager” or “Executive Manager” or even “CEO”. They wave their title around proudly until that is, they need to actually manage anything other than their next promotion. In these tricky people situations they typically – wheel in the HR bitch to do the dirty work. The terminator, here she comes. (Sorry I’m generalising because in my experience mostly women work in HR). The “Leaders” happily sit back and let the HR Bitch weave their magic. They sit there smugly nodding and agreeing and then as soon as they leave they can go back to being the hero again, and absolve all responsibility for what happened, be it a performance counselling or a simple slap on the wrist.
The second driver of this phenomenon is that most HR people ARE bitches. They revel in it. The power, the access to information, the fodder they can get hold of daily to feed the gossip tank, the ability to wave their big policy stick at perpetrators. The heady power of it all is intoxicating. They play their roles well, and so the cycle continues.
Managers don’t take ownership of their people problems, the problems don’t get solved and they often escalate. In turn the HR function continues to be seen as the enforcers, not enablers and nobody wins.
Don’t get me wrong, I have had to be the HR bitch before in many of my roles and initially I liked it. But over time, I got to see how counterproductive this cycle was. Instead I learnt that HR’s role is not to manage these issues for the business or the Managers. Our role is to coach the Managers to be their own HR expert, we need to provide them with the support, confidence and the tools to be able to navigate tricky people issues on a daily basis. I have found the more they do it, the better they get and the better outcomes the organisation derives.
This is one of the key differences our clients experience, working with HR Gurus, our goal is to skill your Managers up to be able to manage HR themselves. Then everyone wins!
Written by Head Guru Emily Jaksch