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