Whose side is HR on?

Nancy, an HR VP, recruited a great executive candidate from another company who had an impressive background.  When she talked to references they all gave the candidate a huge thumbs up and after one month, over lunch, Nancy thought the new employee was working out fine but under the surface all was not well.

About three months after the new employee joined the company Nancy was taken back when she received an interim review of the employee with a “written warning”.  She called the manager, but he was very general in his comments about her performance so she decided to have lunch with the person she hired.

Over lunch, she learned that while the new hire was generally happy she was having trouble “fitting” into the new job.  It was supposed to be a marketing job, but it turned out to be more of a sales support job as the head of the group came from the sales force and said that “marketing was there to support sales and give them whatever they wanted, even if their own legal team said no”.

Three months later it was clear that the manager wanted the new hire gone despite the fact they gave her a great sign on bonus with a great title.  As Nancy dug a little deeper she found that the manager in question was in fact doing whatever he had to do to “make the numbers”.  In disputes he repeatedly sided with the sales force even when wen that was a bad choice.  In addition, former direct reports also didn’t have many nice things to say about the manager in question.

Nancy decided to “not rock the boat” and eventually the new hire left and wound up at a key competitor.  Nancy later told me “it was a loss for my company but more importantly, it was my personal failure because I chose to remain quiet”.  That’s the key problem for too many in HR; they know something is wrong, but they remain quiet while their company looses good people.

No other programs a company institutes to increase employee engagement — excellent rewards, well-thought-out career paths, stimulating work environments, EAP programs, health insurance, and other perks — will make much difference to the people stuck with bad bosses.

A Florida State University study that concludes that as high as 40 percent of employees think their bosses are bad. The respondents of this Florida State survey said that their work environment was more important than pay level, meaning that they would leave a job with a bad boss for a lower-paying job with a good boss.

HR managers can be caught between a rock and a hard place, but when they see a problem and ignore it, they are taking that first step towards making a huge career and personal mistake.  Managers need to be held to higher standards than employees because a good manager can promote a great workplace while a bad one can make a workplace hell.

Which one are you?


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