Beyond HR Departments

Beyond HR Departments

Human Resource department is always considered to be a puppet of management. HR seems to be losing its relevance day by day in the corporate world. Everyone assumes HR departments should know everything about underperforming employees. I completely agree. 

However, we must always remember that HR doesn’t own the company. They only implement company policies which they also act on. HR are humans that can make mistakes. They have families too. They go through emotional and struggles just like everyone else. Yet, they show up at work and manage employees wellbeing. 

I read Michelle Jesus’s story. She talked about her experience in the corporate world laying more emphasis on HR departments. According to her, she was underperforming at work because she had a mother who had just turned widow. So she had to be juggling work and seeing her mother who had just lost her husband, leaving her mentally and physically drained. 

Michelle said, ”I had a widowed mother who was still shocked about the death of her husband (my father). I told our HR to excuse me for some hours during a meeting I wasn’t even needed. She refused. Instead, she sat me down and told me to tell my mom to “move on and be independent” and I need to set my priorities right. I was speechless for a moment gauging her sincerity. In the end, I told her if my mom tells me to resign, within a heartbeat, I’ll leave.”

Looking at Michelle story, everyone will blame HR for being heartless, but the truth is – the company’s policy is responsible for everything. ”Missing Empathy” in the corporate world is not HR’s fault. Stop blaming HR departments. Blame top management. They implement those policies HR act on. 

HR are the reflections of the company’s policies. Top management most of the times will never admit their mistake. Statistics show that up to 60% of people leave managers, not the job. This example is a stark reminder that there are people in positions of responsibility for the success of others who have forgotten about helping those in their area of responsibility to be successful. 

Once a manager sees a person only as a disposable, replaceable resource, that can’t help but affect the view of everyone working under that person. And the effect is what we see in a large percent of people not engaged at work. Care about employees as people. Invest in your people like you never want to lose them and watch for a reciprocal effort to perform, to be loyal, and to be productive. 

Employee recognition, engagement and reward programs have a real purpose and when used wisely can codify and support stronger manager/employee relationships. However, it is hard to come by in the corporate world. HR can’t show employees empathy because top management won’t show HR departments empathy as well. Everyone is under pressure. Bringing results is all that matters. 

Instead of blaming HR, the values of the organisation should be questioned. If a person can not understand the pulse of his/her direct reportees and need HR to tell how his team is feeling or need HR to inform him about them. Then the organisation culture is in question and the responsibility lies with all leaders on the Top not HR.

The challenge is that in most of the organisations, people think and interpret that Culture is some creation of HR which is a misconception about culture. Blaming HR departments, in this case, is a reflection of the shortsightedness of the leaders of the organization.

Organizations need to revisit their values and need to develop a culture which is displayed in the behaviour of the people of the organization.

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