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Susan M. Heathfield

Why We Hate HR: Fast Company

By June 1, 2008

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I hate to tell you this, but "Why We Hate HR" from Fast Company is the best article I've read in ages...

It puts its finger on the pulse of the problems with HR in organizations today. The article also confirms for me that I am on the right track - have miles to go before I sleep - but my writing and teaching, and actions usually, too - are on the right track. Can you say the same for yours? Take a look at Why We Hate HR.
July 16, 2007 at 10:06 am
(1) Ginny says:

I told one of our managers, who was questioning my advice regarding how to handle a situation with one of her employees, “Yes, you are the manager, and you are leading this parade, but I’m tired of being the one at the rear of the parade, following the horses, carrying the shovel.” That’s how HR usually ends up, unfortunately.

June 20, 2008 at 9:27 am
(2) Shelly says:

In this day and age, everyone has a criticism for HR where policing people’s inability to behave themselves at work is mandatory to protect the companies we work for.

If management was actually able to listen beyond what they want to hear; we would all be better off.

June 25, 2008 at 7:29 pm
(3) Susan says:

I agree with the article. My job is not to “police people’s inability to behave themselves” or complain about management. If we’re not working with management in a collaborative sense, then we are part of the problem. Our companies and employees deserve better.

July 29, 2009 at 3:29 pm
(4) Susan says:

The usual either/or problem. Come on. This is not a moral issue. It is a matter of allocation of responsibilities and ongoing changes. If HR (within within the company or a consulting agency) does not take of the issues like policing who will? There had better be someone responsible for it. If you don’t police then trust me you will eventually have a problem on your hands. But this does not prevent you from collaborating with mgmt to improve business outcomes. Again, the two are not incompatible.

July 29, 2009 at 3:42 pm
(5) Susan B says:

I forgot to address the ongoing changes aspect. So mgmt decided that it wants more return from HR than that Dept. currently provides in the form of waste prevention (we don’t hear anyone complaining about the failure of the loss prevention department to more directly contribute to earnings). Or a group of HR mgmt individuals have determined they wish to have “a seat at the table.” Either way, it is a desire for change. So do what it takes to change and cease belittling the other things that HR does.

January 26, 2010 at 12:49 am
(6) Marissa says:

The HR is always expected to police (aside from Auditing) but we can do the job in creative ways without necessarily looking the part (bad guy). Why not use positive reinforcement first before bringing on the whip? Why not give people an answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?” That’s human nature. It may be called “exploiting” by less creative people but in reality, it’s just more of aligning our approach to what will trigger the response that we would like to get.

January 26, 2010 at 1:45 am
(7) Marissa says:

But, really, how does HR become a business partner? How do you tell your colleague in Finance that the costing system that he employs for the company stinks? That it does not give the information needed to make a sound business decision? Or that it is inappropriate for the product line/type of business you are into?

These are just the questions that maybe we can throw back also but maybe, the author just wanted to tell us that we are being misled by some HR practices that do not do us – and the company that we work for and the people that we serve – any good.

The way I see it, the answer lies in our negotiation skils and our level of influence which can only come from our credibility as HR experts.

But, of course, that is only the first step.

October 16, 2010 at 12:24 pm
(8) S. M Owens says:

He has some good points but for many companies, he’s missed the point, Who does he think approves these performance systems, hiring practices and “administrivia”? I never worked for a company that allowed HR cart blanche to impose policies. I never worked for a company that allowed HR cart blanche to hire people. And I’d love to stop performance appraisals as we know them today but the lawyers advise against it because America is so litigious these days. Yes, that’s YOUR employees suing YOU, usually because YOU said or did something that was discriminatry, not HR.

Compasnies need to stop blaming HR for administrivia, for everything that goes wrong and they need to stop using HR as their hatchet men/women and their sacrificial lambs. Management needs to stop insisting that HR be the compliance police and instead insist that every manager be trained and responsible for compliance in their own shop. Naive managers who are resistant to “administrivia” and risk managment principles have casused me more work as an HR professional than anything else – -except perhaps the politicians who pass more and more laws that affect our business environment.

And HR needs to change, too. SHRM and HRCI need to raise the bar on certification. And finally, management needs to stop promoting secretaries to HR manager positions and insist upon hiring competent, credentialed and educated HR professionals with business sense – -and yes, we are out there! Don’t complain about HR quality if you aren’t willing to invest in it.

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