Can you trust HR?

Amy had enough.  She was a great employee with a sterling record and had won many awards while employed as a senior associate in the marketing department, but her manager was piling on the work and to make matters worse he was taking credit for her work and blaming her when something went wrong.  Amy documented everything from conversations with her manager to emails she received often after hours and on weekends.  She was confident that going to HR she could lay out a good case of why her manager was incompetent, but she learned that most HR people work for the company, not for the people they employ.

I have not had that many dealing with HR people beyond being recruited but to this day there isn’t an HR person that I can say “I trust”. I have seen too many really good and talented people taken down by HR departments who chose to side with poor managers than decorated employees.

The rule of thumb is that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers and generally I have found to be true.  The one thing that most every employee wants is the knowledge that their manager has their back and cares about their value to the team and the organization.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Dilbert teaches us that management is a good place for incompetent people to hide, but a lot of people are finding that out the hard way.

A close colleague of mine had just celebrated her six month anniversary with a biotech company when the VP of HR invited her to lunch to “see how things were going”.  She made the mistake of telling her that her Director was too hands on and often asked her to do things without going through her legal department which made her feel very uncomfortable.  Two days later Director called her into the office and read her the riot act about going “behind his back to HR”.  Obviously talking to the VP was the same as talking to her manager even though she though the conversation was confidential.  She told me a week after she resigned “I will never trust HR people again!”.

Good HR people, the ones who do what’s right for the company even if it means sticking out their neck, are very hard to find.  Most are concerned about filling empty positions and helping bad managers eliminate threats to their egos.

Don’t expect HR people to be there for you even if you have detailed documentation of a wrongdoing.  Just ask yourself a simple question “is the stress of the situation really worth the paycheck I am getting?

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