I’ve worked in HR for a long time, which means I’ve heard pretty much every complaint out there about why people don’t like the human resources department (or personnel, if you’re of a certain age).
While some reasons are downright creative – even colorful – the most common one I hear about is that HR always says no. Or that HR is the “Policy Police.” Or that HR won’t let you do anything.
Listen, people. It’s not HR who isn’t letting you do something. It’s YOU – leaders and employees alike. Actually, let me amend that – it’s US. We all contribute to this issue.
If human beings weren’t so jerky from time to time, we wouldn’t have to have all these stupid rules. If we could act like adults with integrity, we wouldn’t have to worry about nepotism, inappropriate conduct, approval levels, complicated oversight, internet and computer usage, etc.
But we’re people. So we do stupid things. And we make stupid decisions. And we act like it isn’t our fault. Hence…personnel policy manuals. We like to be able to point to something and say, “Hey, not our idea. It’s in the policy.” When the tough conversations come up, we like to be able to say, “I didn’t want to, but HR made me.”
This is a total rule of thumb, but I’ve noticed that the thicker the rule book, the more unhealthy the culture. (There are exceptions, but still.) When employees can’t make smart, informed, mature choices, you see more and more of the decision-making taken away and replaced by a policy.
Is that how you roll? Do you WANT to lead that way?
I know I don’t. And I don’t like having to practice HR that way, either. I like to be able to work with leaders and employees to find the best solution for the situation they are currently in. It needs to be legal. It needs to be consistent with previous situations. But we all need the flexibility to make good decisions for the circumstances.
So what’s the answer?
Don’t be a doofus. And tell your peers and employees to not be a doofus. If integrity is a value to you, then LIVE IT, don’t just point to a banner on the wall. Do the right thing, especially when there isn’t a policy telling you what to do.
We all have the power to change the system. Believe me – most HR pros would LOVE to rip up the policy manual and just talk it out.
Help us help you.