HR Management

4 Things Others Do That HR Hates the Most

Don’t you hate when that happens? Or that? Or that? A new book lists things that rile you up the most … and what you do in return.

Ever since the Japanese started eating the lunch of American business back in the 1970s, U.S. companies have focused on the team.

After all, that was a big part of our Asian competitors’ success, wasn’t it? Each individual, each work group, each department sublimated itself to the needs of the next larger element of the organization, with resultant success for all.

Now American business works the same way … as one smoothly oiled machine, with everyone teaming up and friction between elements at a minimum.

And pigs can fly!

Just how untrue the above statement is becomes clear in several books and articles recently appearing the business media. One that caught our eye contained a list of things the line departments of a typical organization do that infuriate HR.

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The list came from a book called I Didn’t See It Coming: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need to Avoid Being Blindsided in Business, by former CBS President Nancy Widmann, Babson College Dean of Executive Education Elaine J. Eisenman, and business coach Amy Dorn Kopelan. Here, in digested form, are 4 sets of actions the authors say HR hates the worst. Does any of this ever happen to you?

–Lack of respect. The authors say this happens when line managers don’t show up at performance improvement meetings involving members of their own departments or interviews with candidates they themselves asked to see, miss important deadlines for appraisals, salary recommendations or job specs for new or revised positions, or otherwise treat HR professionals as “glorified secretaries.”

–Bypassing HR. This happens, the authors say, when managers do their own thing in hiring, going to outside recruitment firms, or when they make promises to staff on salary adjustments or promotions, both without consulting HR to ensure their actions are consistent with company policy.

–Nonconstructive criticism. Most people don’t mind if others come up with ideas to improve things, but the authors say that many line managers and supervisors just complain without offering alternatives … especially about the paperwork HR requires.

–Insensitivity. Finally, HR is infuriated by managers who make discriminatory or harassing comments in public, then laugh it off with “everyone knew I was just kidding.”

The view from the other side

Of course, HR has no patent on feeling riled up. Human Resources people also put some dings in their colleagues’ hides. One key area of such friction, says the blog, Systematic HR, is between HR and finance.

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In an entry titled, “Why Payroll Hates HR,” Systematic’s blogger explains that financial types are driven to distraction by HR’s service orientation versus their need for keeping to the rules.

One example cited is terminating a worker in the personnel files without making a parallel entry in payroll … resulting in paying a fired worker until the error is discovered, sometimes months later. “Many problems can be easily fixed if communication between HR and payroll were better,” says Systematic. “However, HR sees payroll as a commodity transaction, where we in HR see ourselves as strategic.”

Will it ever be possible to bridge these gaps and truly make business work as a team? See tomorrow’s Daily Advisor for some ideas toward that noble goal.

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