The worst advice about HR we have ever heard

Human resources is supposed to be a fountain of sound advice, but we’ve heard some scary advice about HR that serves as more of a cautionary tale.

Advice about HR: Street sign on a stone wall that reads 'watch your step'

(Hat tip to Mary Cunningham for the photo)

Poor HR practices represent a real risk to businesses even causing some businesses to fail because the costs of a misguided HR department are huge.

HR can mitigate some of these risks through their policy and HR practices, but not everyone realises the power they have to help the company thrive. And sometimes they do, but they choose to use that power for no good.

If all the human resource staff in the world collaborated on a guide to the role, these are the chapters you’d want to skip.

HR doesn’t require training

HR requires knowledge on business law, benefits, payroll, business strategy, administration, development and even plain old office skills. But some companies put people in HR positions out of necessity.

One fellow was tasked with taking over for an HR director, assistant and secretary. He understood that he needed to rise to the challenge, but he left his job after a year for the sake of his sanity. Hiring well and training in HR is just as important as for any other role in the business.

Use HR to climb the ladder

There’s nothing wrong with professional development, but not when you take advantage of the company or the employees like one infamous HR director.

Among the indiscretions of this HR exec, she used the company helicopter for her commute, received excess incentives and bonuses, bad mouthed the board to her CEO and the CEO to employees. Your own personal growth strategy shouldn’t conflict with the good of the business.

Honesty is the best policy

That same infamous HR rep once told all the employees at the company that they would be hiring from the outside for a position because none of the current employees would cut it.

HR is expected to be straightforward when delivering rough news, but employee morale and development is also in human resources’ hands. This HR exec eliminated both with one sentence.

Always trust your first instinct

Some hiring managers feel they are ‘a good judge of people.’ Maybe so, but snap judgments could cost your company a highly skilled worker.

After an assistant watched a qualified candidate walk out of the office, they were told by a hiring manager that the person wouldn’t be hired because they were ‘just a loser.’

Develop your own hiring criteria

Another assistant was informed that the hiring manager wanted to return to the paper copies of the applications. When asked what for, they were told that ‘he likes to see where they live’ because it ‘tells a lot about a person.’

You can’t decide to look at employee addresses for socioeconomic status or decide to only hire a certain ethnicity or age group. You can’t just select people who graduated from your alma mater. The company has hiring criteria-stick to them.

HR has nothing to do with PR

Over the years, many companies have had their HR correspondence taken public. In a digital age, a mass firing memo will make it to the internet.

It’s easy to think of HR as internal, but every correspondence is your company’s reputation at stake. How a company treats its employees affects whether or not skilled workers want to work for the company and the morale of those in the company.

Performance reviews need a revamp

Another company tried to have employees reapply for their position annually against both internal and external candidates.

There’s nothing wrong with giving feedback to employees through regular reviews. The problem is the message that this review sends to employees is that their job is never secure. Instead of improving morale, it will destroy it.

Don’t make waves

Not everyone is going to like the policy or decisions you make or have to deliver from above. But if ‘making waves’ means putting a stop to a problem that could hurt the company or an employee, it’s your responsibility to do that.

Don’t say you have an open door policy and then do nothing when employees approach you with a problem. Ignoring a problem has never made it go away and not taking care of employees hurts the company.

Back to basic advice about HR

These are not just generic reversals of basic HR guidance. These come from real stories of HR reps and upper management gone rogue on HR best practices.

Hopefully these tales will act as a warning and in their own way provide advice about HR that highlights how the company and your colleagues in HR need to be on the same page.

Remember, working in HR means standing up for honest, people-focused practices, which ensure the quality and success of the company.

One comment on “The worst advice about HR we have ever heard

  1. Isn’t this the truth. As an HR Consultant myself, I’ve come across many individuals who stepped into an HR role out of pure necessity. This is a dangerous path. You are correct that with proper guidance from HR a company can really thrive. Just the opposite can happen under poor or misguided direction from HR. These are all great points and hopefully business owners and leadership will see the business benefits from hiring an HR professional with experience and training.

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