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Human Resources Spotlight10

Does Everybody Hate HR?

Thursday April 24, 2014

One of my current clients is a non-profit, religious organization. They are thinking about making the transition from being a group of employees who consider themselves to be a "family" to an organization that recognizes that they are now big enough and sophisticated enough to - maybe - identify themselves as a business.

With over forty full-time employees and a hundred plus part-timers in schools and religious education, I think it's time. This is a tough transition and I have participated in it with several organizations in the past.

When a company is small, and feels more like family, employees know each other fairly intimately. They are a small group who work closely together and sit closely together.

So, issues like communication and the goals of coworkers rarely come into question. A particular camaraderie and trust develops and people help each other out.

As Organizations Grow

The goal, as the organization transforms itself for the good of its employees and members, is not to lose the good as you usher in the new.

And, long term people who savored the "family" environment have a tough time transitioning to the new business environment, for all of the right reasons: desire to serve members, wanting to trust their coworkers, and the desire to keep the long term community they love.

And, some wrong reasons exist such as fear of change and the unknown.

As I talked with employees this week, I found a few common threads in the discussion. One was the need for an HR manager or director to organize hiring employees, administer the offices, create consistent policies, and implement organization development initiatives and training.

You know the drill, they want a person to do everything an HR Director does to add value in an organization including being a person to whom employees can bring concerns and woes.

Driving to lunch with a manager, I supported the employee view about the need for HR support. The response was interesting: "Do they 'really' want an HR Director? They should be careful what they wish for. After all, everybody hates HR."

The comment reminded me that I had blogged an earlier article from Fast Company about why people hate HR. I've heard this view before, in fact, many times. Isn't this amazing? Why do you think so many people hate HR?

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Poll: About Trust

Thursday April 24, 2014

This poll covers the subject of trust. Please read the articles below to learn how to maximize trust in your organization. Trust is a fragile element of relationships.

Speaking at a Precision Metalforming Association's annual meeting in Bermuda a few years ago, I started my presentation by asking several questions. One was, "How many of you still have fear in your organizations?" Every hand in the room went up - about 400.

Then, I asked how many needed to improve the level of trust and every hand was raised again. I don't think this has changed in the intervening years based on my interaction with readers.

Your organization can be so much more effective if you have built trust and eliminated fear. Fearless, trusting employees can make the world rock.

If you have thoughts about trust, please share them in comments.

Poll: How Much Trust Exists in Your Organization?
Take more polls. Find out how others voted. Some votes may surprise you.

Read more about how to build effective work relationships.

More About a Culture of Trust

How You Treat Employees Really Matters

Wednesday April 23, 2014

Employers have had to make some tough choices over the past few years - and more tough times continue. Employees are generally forgiving of cost cuts when they are completely and honestly informed of the what and the why.

They also like to see cuts applied to everyone. A client company cut every employee's salary by 5% as a cost savings measure. They informed employees at a company meeting, asked for forgiveness, and promised to make it up to employees when the tough times passed. I remember thinking, great job of communicating. Bravo.

Then, the word leaked out of accounting that executives had not applied the cuts to their own salaries. Bad and sad, in and of itself, but imagine the uproar that occurred (and completely undermined any banked employee good will or positive feelings) when the CEO explained why at the next company meeting.

He told the employees that the company couldn't afford to lose any of their executives so he had not felt that it was a wise decision to cut their pay.

Decisions such as this are costly - more than I think he ever understood. Anything that affects employee morale, while seldom directly measurable in dollars, is a huge hit to your bottom line. Anything that affects employee good will, understanding, and support creates an immeasurable, possibly irreparable, loss to your organization - in more than just dollars.

One of the casualties of these tough times is likely to be the relationship of many employees with their companies. This is especially true if the employees feel as if they were mistreated for the wrong reasons.

I received an email from an HR person who was seeking some support as her company CEO planned to give employees a 2% increase in pay. An increase of any kind sounds good - right? Nope. Not when the company was soaring with profitability due to the employees' work. The CEO wanted to give that increase because, with the economic downturn - he could. He didn't believe that he would lose any employees; they would not be able to find work elsewhere.

I'll bet I know where his employees will be when the economy improves, sooner if they have market needed skills. Furthermore, I'll bet I know where they are spending part of their work day now. How about you? Ready to leave your employer? Why or why not?

Is It My Job to Fire Employees?

Wednesday April 23, 2014

Nothing is as confusing to many readers than the parameters and responsibilities of the role of HR staff. I receive frequent questions that tell me that the HR person's organization thinks that she or he should fire employees, discipline employees, write employees up, and hire employees.

Nothing is farther from the reality of how these employment actions should occur. These roles are not in the HR job description.

These responsibilities are in the job descriptions of managers and supervisors for many reasons. The most important reason is that the HR person wasn't there - for any of it. She or he has only hearsay evidence about what occurred from the manager or supervisor.

So, too, with hiring employees. The new employee will not report to the HR staff person who has only second hand knowledge about the job's requirements and the supervisor's needs. The key interaction during interviews is the interaction of the candidate with the hiring manager and his or potential coworkers.

The Role of HR Staff

The HR professional's role is to provide support to the manager or supervisor as she or he performs these tasks that are integral in their jobs supervising and leading employees. The HR staff person specifically should provide these kinds of support.

  • Training for managers and supervisors in all aspects of employment including interviewing, selection, discipline, and how to legally and ethically fire an employee,
  • Guidance, written policies, and procedures to give direction and consistency in employment actions,
  • Counsel and coaching to assist managers to do their jobs effectively,
  • Presence to witness the employment action and to help steer a meeting that heads awry,
  • Documentation assistance so the records are accurate, legal, and will withstand scrutiny in a court of law,
  • Feedback during employee selection about potential cultural fit and effectiveness of the candidate, and
  • Background checking to ensure that you are hiring the employee who you think you are hiring.

The list goes on and on, and I have written extensively about the role of HR staff in an organization. I am interested to know what you think. Am I crazy or is this the way it's supposed to work?

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More About the HR Role

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