Tips On Making HR Your Best Partner
Given my experience in executive search, when I took over the HR department of a multinational company, I had already been ”acquainted” with the attitude of many Managers toward their HR.
More than often, professionals who were looking for their next challenge in a different company would complain about the character and attitude of those in the HR department. And many of them were of the opinion that ”anybody can be an HR”, that ”HRs have no qualifications, anyone could do the job” or even that ”those who failed in other professions can easily be HRs”. Auch!
On the other hand, among those looking for another challenge were HRs as well. People who passionately spoke of their projects and their effort to intermediate between social and professional layers in a company, but who, more than often, felt that they had their hands tied. HRs who had no HR to go to with their professionals issues… Hmm…
Even more intriguing were the times when I would interview both a Manager complaining about his/her HR and the respective HR. The same individual was, on the one hand, described as ”good for nothing” and on the other, described himself/herself as a totally dedicated, resourceful and successful professional.
Needless to say I found myself asking What is going on here? What is the truth?
Only after I experienced the position of the HR myself I was able to combine the two perspectives, and answer. Here is what I found:
- Some HRs are simply not suited for this profession and they would probably perform better in other areas. Because no, not anybody can be an HR. This is a vocational job that requires a certain set of skills and attitudes. So some Managers were right.
- Some Managers are simply not mature enough to take responsibility and, when they fail, they put the blame on who they think is ”the scapegoat”. My HR hasn’t helped me; I haven’t had enough support etc. So some Managers are wrong.
- Some HRs are excellent at what they do, but they’re not given enough credit, partnership wise. So some HRs are right.
- Some HRs and some Managers are excellent professionals, but they need to work on trust and communication.
Moreover, I found that some Managers take their HR as their personal psychologist or confessor when it comes to their own needs, but as a personal assistant when it comes to setting strategies and developing programs. Which is wrong. On the other hand, some HRs identify themselves with the power position of the CEO and regard Managers as subordinates. Which is also wrong.
So, based on my findings, my advice to you, excellent Managers looking for more support from your excellent HRs (4.) is to:
- Act maturely, according to your position, taking full responsibility for your actions, and you will find a partner in your HR because they will always back up a Responsible Value (that means you).
- Stop looking down on your HRs. Trust their ability to deal with the more complicated aspects of human relations at work, and you will see the results.
- When addressing your HR, consider performance, not “whining” to try to justify situations that speak for themselves, and you will get your HR’s full support.
- Understand that, unlike you, the HR has an entire company to look for, and not just your team. Appreciate their objectivity when they disagree with your demands that would unjustifiably give your team an advantage over other teams. And keep in mind that this same objectivity is the one that prevents your team from being negatively affected by demands of other Managers, for other teams. So learn to negotiate with your HR, not demand.
- Remember that the HR Manager is part of the same team you’re on. Treat them as a team member, not as an outsider. Your HR has valuable experience that can help you achieve your objectives. So don’t underestimate their experience and role. Recognize their merits.
- Respect their work and their time. Don’t make the mistake in thinking that your HR has nothing to do all day. I remember that there were times when my colleagues in top management wanted me by their side just for chatting and I had 21 HR projects ongoing. I always did my best in finding time for both, but surely I must have “upset” some of them with my occasional “Can I call you back in a little while?”. And I must say I’ve always appreciated those Managers using this simple opening line: “Do you have time right now?”. So, remember: 21 projects, of which almost half were confidential. So what to you may look like “nothing to do”, could actually mean “a lot to do behind closed doors”.
- Speaking of confidentiality, please don’t assume that gossip comes under this area. Surely in just a few weeks after coming onboard, your HR will have heard more than (s)he needed to hear about everybody in the company. Be different. Stick to professional issues and I promise you will have gained their respect and admiration.
- Do not try to emotionally manipulate your HR by telling them what you think they need to hear or trying to impress them with “soap opera stories”. Instead, stick to the facts, get to the bottom line and be honest. They are no less human than you are. What do you think happens when they realize what you’re trying to do? (And the best of them always do!) Would they be wrong in reacting as they would?
- And, once in a while, as you should do with all your colleagues, ask your HR this simple question: How are you? And then pause for a while. Show consideration; don’t immediately start talking about yourself. In other words, treat your HR as you expect to be treated.
Try applying these tips and I promise you that your part of the work on the trust and communication issue will be visible and appreciated by your HR. And this is a huge step in gaining that valuable partner who will help you achieve the success you are so wonderfully capable of.
(foto: Logofeteasa, Nicolae Grigorescu)