I listened to many comments on the podcasts that disparage the HR functions. I understand why: the HR department does not meet a standard of effective performance. The department does not increase the value of the company commiserate with the costs of the department. Fair enough.

So what would the standard look like? What would the HR do differently? Perhaps a top 3 items/tasks/processes to Start, Stop and Continue would help flesh out the picture of an effective HR.

The data alone would be very interesting. And it might reveal how far, or how close, our actual HR departments are to the standard.

Thank you for the time and thought to this question.

jhack's picture

This is a hypothetical - and generally, the forums aren't about the hypothetical.

M&M don't disparage HR so much as they point out HR's real role: to represent the company's interests. Nothing wrong with that, although many folks (mistakenly) think HR is primarily there to help employees. Helping employees helps the company; it's just important to remember that in the event of a conflict between the two interests, the company comes first.

And HR is hardly the only ineffective department. IT certainly provides lots of examples of ineffective management in the podcasts.

Is there a specific reason you're asking this?


mikehansen's picture

Great HR departments demonstrate through their actions that their mission is to serve the rest of the organization. They should seek to minimize the red tape that employees and epically managers need to go through to get their jobs done. Finally, they should never let process trump common sense.

Painful HR comes when the opposite is done. Here are some examples that I have dealt with that had a net-negative impact on the organization.

- Forcing bell curves and HR approval for performance evals. I cannot tell you how infuriating it is to a manager to have to debate (and lose) a performance rating with someone who has not spent any time actually working with the person, but is in HR.

- Going over-board on employee-protection. Most companies have an at-will employment agreement or policy, but to take disciplinary action and/or fire someone usually involves so much HR pain it is easier to live with the bad egg. Yes, HR needs to protect against the abusive boss, but more often than not they are just enforcing CYA that is not really needed.

- Trying to tell Managers how to manage. For some reason, HR likes to believe that even though they have no experience or training in leadership and effective management, that they should drive the process for how managers do their job. I have never seen this be effective, and it is often a detriment.

- Writing policy documents, employee manuals, etc. Instead, help the managers build a positive, professional work environment. Really. We do not need a manual to tell us to wear shoes or that we cannot skip work for a week without telling anyone.

- Having employees go through ethics or sensitively training. I would hope no elaboration is needed for that one.

- Sitting in the office when a Manager is having a tough conversation with an employee, just so an “independent” person can be there. That does not help. Tell the lawyers to step off and let us manage.

- Organizing team building events. It’s not your team. Leave us alone.

- Not taking complete ownership over things that HR should. For instance, if you are going to bring in someone for an interview, please line up the interviewers, schedule the meetings, provide the itinerary and the resume to everyone, and be prepared to facilitate last minute changes. Don’t just walk the person to the first interviewer and wash your hands of it (yes, this has happened to me also).

- Having low-level HR employees that have no authority. Anyone in HR should be empowered to use common sense to help. Quickly. Don’t make them go through 5 levels of management and 8 months of delays to correct an employee’s title in the system, that was their mistake in the first place. (Another true story)

So yes, some folks can get a little frustrated with HR when they are not being part of the solution.

I hope this helps – I fell Better :)


fedvarian's picture

I am seeking the standard that HR needs to meet. Not from a CYA standpoint, rather from a manager-tools manager standpoint.

Managers are required to deal with HR. Most managers picture the HR function as it can serve the manager. The difference between the picture and the reality the manager experiences leads to, well, posts like mikehansen, (I am NOT picking on you, it was very gracious of you to post as you did). That conflict leads to ineffective results, both for the manager and HR.

I believe (theory) that the picture in managers heads is nebulous at best. I'd like to get a better focus of the picture. So I ask the community to focus down and give what amounts to feedback.

Given your expereince with your HR department (s), what top three items/policies/functions would you have them Start to do (or make known that they do)?

Given your expereince with your HR department (s), what top three items/policies/functions would you have them Stop doing?

Given your expereince with your HR department (s), what top three items/policies/functions would you have them continue to do as they serve you well?

Once we understand the picture/reality difference, we can come up with specific action items to address the gap to managers advantage.

Did I answer your question Jhack?


bug_girl's picture

We just entered into a new model--we have big HR and little [i]hr[/i].
HR is for the official employment/benefits/disciplinary stuff.
Company interests.

[i]hr[/i] is a group of 2 employees that were in HR, so know the ropes, but exist only to help us with coaching employees, or to provide advice or confidential conferences if there are performance probs/personal issues.
Employee interests.

I think it's brilliant so far. What do you all think?

mikehansen's picture

The little hr sounds perfect. Exactly what the mindset of hr should be!

Keep us posted as to how it works out.