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Why You Hate HR And How To Fix It


The US election is thankfully coming to a close. Is there anyone who is disappointed that it is ending out there? Anybody wish there were more attack ads, lies and deception to keep the great Republic running? Maybe the media wishes there were a few more weeks but I think everybody else has had enough.

Is this the best way to pick a leader? If you subscribe to the maxim that leaders can only be as good as those who pick them, how does this perverted process help us make the best decision? And when a good portion of the population is always dissatisfied with the process and choices, how do we move forward?

HR and the Failure of Leadership

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking: “This somehow relates to HR (or at least Lance thinks it does).”

Of course it relates to HR!

When I was reading a blog post on BNET about “Why Everyone Still Hates HR” (thanks to the many of you who sent it) and it references the source of many angry HR rants “Why We Hate HR”, I continue to think that these people get the HR department they deserve. It is truly a failure of leadership (from ownership on down) when HR departments don’t execute.

Oh yay. I am trying to blame someone else, right? Not my fault, right? Not exactly.

Why Do We Treat HR Differently?

Imagine if your sales department was constantly under-performing. Other departments complained about its performance and thought it was really an anchor on the company’s success. Not only that, imagine that the sales department was more concerned with marketing the product rather than selling it. So they went to trade shows and instead of trying to line up sales, they concerned themselves more with branding and putting on a positive image. In fact, when a potential customer came up and said they were interested in ordering, they said they couldn’t do that there.

Quick quiz: If you are in the C-suite overseeing that department, what do you do?

  1. Meh, that’s just how sales is! You’ll just have to deal with the poor results.
  2. Have a meeting to talk about what could be improved but never do anything about it.
  3. Hold sales accountable but never tell them exactly what they are being held accountable for.
  4. Fire the head of sales but replace them with a person that shares their philosophy.
  5. You realize that your sales department is under or wrongly trained but it just isn’t in the budget to fix it.
  6. You get new leadership, retrain your sales department to actually sell, let go those who are incapable and hold them accountable on their critical metrics.

What sort of insane person would not do number six? What if the response to the problems in sales were any of the first five? Could you imagine a company being in business for that long if nothing was ever done about the situation?

So why do we hate HR? If you are a rank and file employee, it is because their incompetence and organizational value is never addressed by the leaders of the company. If you are an executive, you hate HR because you have no idea how to fix it and make it better. And fixing it is fairly easy if you look at HR and expect the same things as you do from every other department.

The Scapegoat for Poor Leadership

It is sort of like how everyone bangs on the President or Congress but never changes their own behavior to fix the issues. If you consider that the American people are the owners of our country (and we are essentially shareholders), we become frustrated because we can’t figure out a way to get better leaders. So while there are a million posts stating things like “How did we get these choices?” or “I wish our Congress would do something for once” or “Why can’t our government be more pro-active?” there are very few posts on “How we can get better choices” or “How to get your Congressman to vote the way you want” or “How do we elect leaders that will see our problems before they hit us smack in the face?”

When you respond to attack ads and lies by doing the same thing at every election and never expecting much from the government because “that’s just how they are”, you aren’t much better than the executives who continue to allow HR to underperform and never expect more than what they delivered yesterday.

Sure, HR and our elected officials may be incompetent. Guess who picked them though? Guess who allows them to be incompetent?

My guess is that it is easier to pass blame than to take responsibility for your part.

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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