With a little help from my friends 

I read an article that asked the question, “ Is HR ever your friend?” My first thought was this must be a reflection on how HR’s first loyalty is to the organisation despite presenting themselves as the people who will help you if you have a bully for a manager, experience racism in the workplace or fallout with a colleague. Whilst I wouldn’t  tell my HR colleagues,” Your my best fiend” I certainly regard them as managers friend. Strange them that most managers don’t share my view. I appreciate that HR have dug me out of a few holes in the past. Whereas some of my managers feel that HR place restrictions on their actions which make their life more difficult either that or that HR are too receptive to the moans and whines ( grievances) of their staff. 

It’s clear  HR has an image problem: one study showed 70% of employees don’t trust their personnel department. (www.teamblind.com) I think the explanation lies in a general misunderstanding of the role of HR. That role is not to advocate on behave of employees against management nor is it to unconditionally support the actions of individual managers. The role of HR is to promote fair people management. That means protecting employees whether from the behaviour of colleagues or the unreasonable actions of managers. In so doing they are promoting the organisation’s belief in valuing employees and protecting the organisation from legal action such as unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal. The role also involves supporting managers by providing specialist advice, helpful guidance and promoting best practice in the way employees are managed. 

In my experience as a senior manager and some one who commissioned disciplinary investigations and chaired disciplinary hearings HR can be come across as no one’s friend. Their involvement in investigating allegations against employees meant that they were viewed as on the side of management. However the findings of disciplinary investigations often scrutinised managers actions which made managers feel ,”on trial” and “ not supported”. 

Is a good friend someone who always takes your side or are they the person who you can rely on for an honest response even if it’s not what you want to hear? So in answer to the question is HR ever your friend I think HR would say “ You Got A Friend In Me”. 

Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk 

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