Why I Have Trust Issues With HR

Image courtesy of Flickr.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

You all know I love me some HR. I believe in its fundamental tenets of understanding work behavior. I also enjoy the small window of opportunity we have to balance both the needs of the business and the employee. To many, it seems like a job anyone can do, but for those that do it everyday and do it right; they know it takes a special kind of professional.

The rebuttal to this line of thinking is: “Well, if it requires a “special” person – why does it appear that anyone with any background can do the job?” Indeed, there are HR practitioners from a myriad of degree fields and backgrounds that have found their way to HR. Do they all belong there? No.

Human Resources is a profession whose entire existence is predicated on how well they manage or in some organizations herd other humans in an effort to ensure the companies success and a healthy bottom-line. Yet, it has been my experience that we have a tough time managing ourselves. In some cases, it is at the precise time that some people became HR practitioners that they forgot who they were and why they were there. Values forgotten. Integrity went out the door. Ethical behavior- what’s that? In fact, I am sure some never set out to break the law in life, but they have.

My name is Janine and I have trust issues with HR.

When I worked in HR, I met a lot of great professionals along the way. There were also far more that left a lot to be desired. I found myself at odds much of the time with how I chose to operate versus “the way” HR chose to position itself in the organization. This disconnect garnered me fans by way of my internal and external partners, but not with my own HR brethren.

Here’s what got me in trouble:

  • Working with my internal partners to ensure we had “real” and “practical” solutions to their concerns.
  • Advocating for candidates that were qualified, but would have otherwise been set aside for less qualified candidates.
  • Keeping up on HR and business trends, practices and laws in an effort to ensure that we were not only compliant, but remained relevant.
  • Doing what I knew was right.

If you can find anything wrong with what I detailed above, comment below and let me know. I am always interested in another viewpoint. As I said, I have trust issues with HR. It took me some time to muster up the courage to say this about a discipline I love, but that has so often disappointed me. Do you know how disconcerting it is to be bullied, harassed, thrown to the wolves all while working in HR and having to sell the value of what you do to employees? Moreover, it is painful to have to bite your tongue when employee after employee comes to you for help and an ear and you can’t tell them that you too – have trust issues with HR.

Here’s what I have learned:

1) Businesses need to stop involving HR in their dirt. That is to say, let HR do what they do. Don’t corrupt us or our efforts.

2) HR practitioners everywhere need to have enough backbone to call out unethical, illegal and toxic behaviors without hesitation. Stop being brokers for unethical and illegal practices. When the employees understand that you don’t have their back, your job is over.

3) Here it is all of these years we have been asking for a seat at the grand table, yet we let anyone and everyone sit with us. The same way we have to earn the respect of the C-Suite is the same way we should operate as we usher in new talent to HR.

Everyone can’t sit with us.

It takes a certain person, with compassion, business acumen, a desire to continue learning, discernment and above all the want to build cohesive, non-toxic work environments.

Personally, I get excited about providing solutions to workplace debacles, struggles and blindspots. I like to understand what my partners need and then I go to work crafting something they can use. This is how HR is supposed to work.

I continue to wait for the day, when I stop hearing how HR has failed employees. I hope we reach a point where we start to safeguard our discipline from those who would rather detract from it or turn it into the cesspools that exist elsewhere in business.

We have to do better. We need to do better.

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Comments

  1. Joe Libertelli,MBA,MA, SHRM-SCP, SPHR. says

    Janine

    You hit the nail on the head! It not only takes a special person to be an HR Professional, but that person must possess the emotional maturity to be effective and gain trust. Unfortunately, I have seen my share of those who say the right things, but do not practice what they have learned and become part of the problem.

    The other issue that disturbs me are those HR professionals that judge instead of coach. It is our job to provide employees and managers the tools to suceed, not to pull the rug out from under them.

    Please understand that this is not an inditment of the entire HR Professional community but one bad apple spoils the lot.

    Best regards
    Joe

    • says

      Joe,

      Thank you for stopping by my blog. I really appreciate you reading and giving me some feedback. I love the part about “emotional maturity”. There is a delicate balance between executing our work and building rapport with our internal customers.

      Many HR practitioners have a hard time coaching. I have often thought that needs to be part of the curriculum in every HR certification and program. Many of them see their job as the compliance police. Once you allow yourself to live in that space – you will always be in a rut of executing and judging.

      I agree your sentiments wholeheartedly. Thank you for sharing them here with me and my readers.

      All the best,

      Janine