HR stands for Human Resources. Every company is powered by humans. Nothing but human ingenuity and passion can make your company grow or thrive, but people are too often overlooked in the practice of HR. The needs of managers are prioritized above the needs of the employees, and that is bad business as well as poor leadership.
If you like gag t-shirts you can find a t-shirt that says “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” You can substitute “your employees” for “Mama” in this sentence and find that it is true. If your employees don’t like working for you, nothing good can happen.
HR people are in a bind. Their jobs are not easy. They have to do their best to listen to, counsel, coach and reinforce their teammates while also keeping their higher-up managers happy. Too many managers have an ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality and too many HR people see things the same way.
As soon as an ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality creeps into a culture putting management on one side of an invisible wall and employees on the other side, forget about growth! Forget about profits. Your culture is broken.
Here are five things the HR department will not tell you:
• How confidential your conversations with HR really are.
• What’s in your personnel file.
• What issues or problems surrounding your performance your manager may be talking with HR about right now.
• What they know about the likely future of your role, your department or your tenure with the company.
• How your manager feels about you – even when your employment is at risk.
Now we see how broken the traditional practice of HR is.
HR people say “We only share confidential employee conversations on a need-to-know basis.” They mean “If no one asks me whether you talked to me, then I won’t say anything. If a higher-up manager asks me what we talked about and says they need to know, then I’m going to tell them”.
You can make an appointment to see what’s in your personnel file. If you work in such a fearful environment that you suspect you’ll be tagged a troublemaker for asking to view your personnel file, don’t do it – but in that case, start a job search right away.
In many organizations, your manager can put a note in your personnel file without telling you. Your manager can have conversations with HR about you and you won’t know about it until you’re called into HR to sign a Performance Improvement Plan – another bit of HR weenie nonsense.
Your team or your whole division could be slated for termination in a spreadsheet that people are talking about around a conference table at this very moment. HR may be aware of those plans – but you are not. You’ll get the news when they decide to tell you. That’s why you should keep your resume up to date, keep your network mobilized and look around you at the talent market. You have to stay ready to job-hunt, and to pay attention to the signals in the air.