If HR staff had thought bubbles above their head when in conversation
with managers then you would be able to see when they were thinking ,”
you really shouldn’t be telling me this”.
1) You can’t stand one of your team
If you tell a member of HR you can’t stand an individual in your
team how is it going to look if at a later date that individual
submits a grievance against you? How does it look if they already
have? If the individuals grievance is that you are trying to get rid
of them it’s going to be hard to convince HR that this is not the
2) There are no witnesses but you admit you shouted, swore and
threaten the individual.
You may have been provoked beyond the patience of a saint, the
consensus amongst colleagues maybe it was about time the individual
was taken to task but there is a reason a bolloxing is given in
3) You changed the person specification to exclude a particular
You did indeed change the standard person specification to
include the need for a management qualification/ specific experience
in view of the particular requirements of the post. Of course HR are
not idiots they know you changed it to exclude a candidate who would
have been a disastrous appointment. But if you have the rational only
you know your true motive.
4) Everyone does it
As a chair of internal disciplinary panels I was surprised that
anyone would use this excuse, it’s an admission of guilt and an
unconvincing attempt at mitigation.
5) You don’t think the pictures on your work computer are pornographic.
Well that’s the problem we do.
6) Can you tell them / be the bad guy
If there is one thing that frustrates people working in HR more
than anything else it‘s managers who won’t challenge their staff and
want HR to do their job for them. You’re the manager you need to
tackle them about their time keeping, poor performance, inappropriate
behaviour or absenteeism.
7) I just did what you told me to. -in other words it’s all your fault
This runs failure to challenge a close second in the HR
frustration stakes. People in HR give advice based on knowledge and
experience. In my experience as a senior manager they give good, well
thought out advice but they don’t make decisions for managers. A
manager can follow the advice or ignore it . A manager should have a
rational for their decision which stands up to questioning. HR told me
to do it is frankly pathetic. And whilst we are on the subject of
taking responsibility ringing up different members of the HR team to
seeking advice on the same issue/ case until someone gives tells you
what you want to hear undermines your credibility not HR’s
8) It was just a joke
What you’re really saying is that homophobia, Islamophobia,
racism and sexism are suitable subjects for humour. At best you are
alerting HR to a lack of awareness and sensitivity at worst you are
being unrepentant at causing offence.
9) I shouldn’t have to justify my actions
Managers are often asked why certain decisions were made ,
providing rational explanations is part of the job. Being defensive or
indignant only creates the impression that there is something not
quiet right about your actions
10) I thought you were on my side.
This is most often heard when a manager finds them selves the
subject of a grievance which HR are investigating. In my experience HR
will get you out of a hole you have dug yourself into but it may
involve you admitting you got it wrong.
Blair Mcpherson former Director. Author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk