Signs of an Ineffective HR Manager
This would be an interesting article to read if it were not for the “clipart photo gallery” style of this piece. Here I have taken some of the key points and raised some of the factors they raise. I’m not sure that many HR managers would disagree with many of these statements, however if we looked closely in the mirror I suspect we may well find one of the guilty contributors…
Nine signs your HR function is not supporting the business:
- HR Never Says, “We need to ask the lawyers”
- HR sends you unqualified or inappropriate candidates to interview
- HR gives you blank stares when you talk about the business
- HR always seems to agree with you
- HR never approves an exception
- HR only fixes messes–that it created
- HR never approves firing anyone
- HR never met a number he liked
- HRs reaction to any problem: Write up a new policy!
What do these things mean?
These are some interesting perceptions on HR and it’s no wonder many are not seen as strategic functions.
1) HR Never Says, “We need to ask the lawyers”
- Employment law is complex and ever changing. Its beyond most generalists to keep up to date, and any good professionals will regularly seek guidance from an appropriate legal professional.
- If your HR manager is confident that they know everything they needs to know and never needs to run anything by an employment lawyer, you need a new HR manager
2) HR sends you unqualified or inappropriate candidates to interview
- No one knows your function and requirements better than you as the line manager, but HR should ensure all screening filters out inappropriate candidates.
- If the recruiter can’t do a quality phone screen, or review a CV, or understand the difference between “must have” qualities and “nice to have” qualities, it’s time for some new blood down in recruiting
3) HR gives you blank stares when you talk about the business
- HR are competent at cross business skills, people management etc, but how knowledgeable are we at the functions of the business? Can we talk Finance, marketing, sales & operations? Have we sat in on a sales call or a business pitch?
- HR needs to know what the people actually do
- We need to talk the language of our customers – not our peers
4) HR always seems to agree with you
- A good HR manager stands up to management when need be and explains what the consequences of a policy or action could be
5) HR never approves an exception
- Yes, rules and policies should all be followed, generally speaking.
- Meeting legal standards and requirements is one thing, but paying someone outside of band in exceptional cases, letting a diabetic eat at their desk when there is a “no eating at your desk” policy can be critical for the person and good engagement for the organization.
6) HR only fixes messes that it created
- One of the main functions of HR is to avert problems, which often requires foresight.
- Is your HR manager the type who refuses to act until the moment of crisis? So they ignore or rejects your request for a raise for an employee-until that employee submits their letter of resignation?
- If your HR manager only works on fixing the problem when it happens, it’s time for them to go.
7) HR never approves firing anyone
- An employer can fire anyone-male, female, black, white, old, young, pregnant, sick-providing the reason for the firing doesn’t violate the law. For example, you can’t fire a woman because she’s pregnant, but you can fire her for insubordination during her pregnancy.
- If your HR manager’s response is to stick it out and hope the poor performer quits, or suggests transferring the employee or punishing the manager rather than deal with the problem, you need a new HR manager.
8) HR never met a number he liked
- Some HR people don’t like numbers. It’s why they aren’t finance people. But, if your HR manager can only tell you what he “thinks” about turnover or “feels” about one insurance plan versus another, he’s not doing his job. Hard numbers are available.
- If HR can’t figure out how to evaluate a program or policy, using hard data, then the HR manager is not capable of doing their job (and not just ROI of training!)
9) HRs reaction to any problem: Write up a new policy!
- HR people love policies because it helps bring order to the workplace. But does HR use them to avoid confrontation, or worse responsibility?
- Policies are necessary, but simply issuing policy statements rather than addressing actual behavior lapses means your HR manager isn’t doing their job
Now I am not sure that I agree with all of these points, but as the saying goes, there is no smoke without fire.
In the UK over the last few years there has been an increasing trend for graduates to go straight into HR. Some 20-30 years ago many HR people were second career professionals having had line management responsibility, and so business understanding.
I have seen a move by many large private firms to promote operational manager to be “Head of HR”, and employ HR professionals as “advisers”. Certainly the movement to have “business partner” based HR was aimed at moving HR closer to the needs of the business, but how many HRP’s have their office next to the unit manager or shop floor?