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5 Things that HR Should Stop Saying

    By Nathan Hayes, PHR

    Yesterday, I read John Kinnear’s excellent blog post entitled, “5 Things Parents Need to Stop Saying to Non-Parents.” This article resonated with me in that I don’t have kids and consider myself a proud pet parent, though I don’t broadcast that information generally… until now (I’m sure this will annoy all the “real” parents out there. Sorry about that). The level of self-assessment and empathy that comes through John’s writing was impressive to me, and it inspired me to consider what I should stop saying as an HR person.

    The list below represents the first five things that came to my mind, but I’m curious about what you might put on this list. Either leave a comment or send a tweet with #HRShouldStop. Following John Kinnear’s example, the list below applies to him… I mean me. When I say “you,” I mean me. Unless you feel that it applies to you, in which case, you’re welcome.

    1. “I hate it when employees come to me with their problems or complaints.”

    Often this is expressed in a sarcastic comment or joke that sounds something like, “Don’t you love it when your employees come to you with their complaints?” Sure, it can be difficult to deal with some complaints or with particular employees, but if it weren’t, your job would be completely automated or outsourced by now.

    Embrace the complaints and the problems that come your way and use them to improve your organization.

    • Help your organization provide a better experience for its employees
    • Help your supervisors to be better leaders and better managers
    • Help your employees to develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities to become more “bulletproof” (I’d like to send a shout-out to Cy Wakeman for helping me with this one)
    • Help employees to grow and mature instead of rolling your eyes


    1. “Our supervisors always drag their feet with performance reviews, when they take the time to do them at all.”

    If performance reviews are not being done correctly, or on time, or at all, then do something about it. Find out why there’s a problem and attack it instead of whining about it. Too often, performance reviews are overly complicated and provide illogical measurement scales. For example, how would someone “exceed expectations” on their goal of providing work that is 100% accurate,  and thorough? Should they have submitted a report of corrections they would have made had the errors occurred, even though they didn’t?

    If you can’t complete a performance review form in less than a half-hour and you can’t glance at it and know generally how the employee is doing, then your supervisors likely have some valid points on why they aren’t using your process as well as you’d like.



    1. “Don’t they understand that’s illegal and we’ll get sued!?!”

    How does this question/exclamation help? Either the answer is “yes,” and “they” have decided to move ahead with a decision without seeking  your sage counsel and may not want to hear it at this point. Or the answer is “no,” and that detail might have escaped their notice among the 5 billion other things they were thinking about at the time. Either way, what’s missing in the scenario is a concise, logical explanation of what the risks might be so that a well-informed decision can be made. You can choose to be that calm, assertive voice...or not. And it might sometimes be worth taking a small legal risk to do the right thing for your employees, or for a particular employee.

    Get ahold of yourself and put everything in a proper perspective. And remember that you didn’t go to law school and your understanding of legal risks is limited at best.


    1. “HR should have a seat at the table… or should have been consulted”

    Can we put this one to rest? If you weren’t consulted it’s probably because you tend to offer up all the reasons why something can’t or shouldn’t be done instead of finding ways to leverage the talent available to the organization to accomplish strategic goals and objectives. I recommend reading Fast Company’s article, “Why We Hate HR.”

    If you are appropriately assertive, have good ideas, have a good attitude, and effectively communicate, you’ll be consulted.

    1. “How do we get the executives to support this?”

    You get executive support by asking for their support in a way that makes sense. Your presentation doesn’t need to be filled with business buzz words either. Just make sense. And Crystal Spraggins’ article, “Why Do We Seem to Hate All the Things That Make HR Great?” does a good job of explaining how human issues should be just as much a part of any “business case” as the dollars and cents.

    When you open your mouth, make sure that what follows is logical, ethical, and progresses the company toward one or more of its strategic goals. If you can’t manage that, then you don’t need the executive’s support. You need to think about how you are supporting the business instead.

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