HR doesn’t get any respect. Who’s to say that HR deserves respect? Who even knows what “respect for HR” looks like? Is it the company where HR sits down at the big kids table? The company where HR is consulted on every matter related to people? I don’t know but I do know that sometimes HR deserves a little side eye because we do things that set us apart as “HR” instead of emphasizing our role as part of the company. Why and how that’s evolved doesn’t matter. What does matter is how we change that reputation.
So what can HR do to get the respect it deserves? A couple ideas:
1. Dress the part- yea yea I know, appearances shouldn’t matter but unfortunately what shouldn’t matter frequently does. How do your peers in other business lines dress? Look at the CEO/Senior Leaders at your office. How do they dress? Suits and ties? Dockers and Polo’s? Or hoodies and jeans? If everyone in your org is wearing Dockers and polo’s don’t come in to work on a regular basis in suits and ties. You look out of place and stuffy.
2. Everything is not a fire -pick and choose wisely what you deem urgent. Yes, we need the R&D manager to turn in her employee performance appraisals but a day or two late isn’t a crisis.Handling a sexual harassment complaint and can’t get managers or employees to respond to your requests for time? MUCH more urgent.
3. Be a hero – HR gets stuck with the Dr. No reputation because it’s true! We are always saying “NO.” But what if we said “Yes” more frequently? A common scenario: A manager screwed up the payroll submission and his employees don’t have the big chunk of overtime they were expecting in their paycheck. They need a manual check run and you say no because of the cost and the hassle. I say: Just Do It! Taking a righteous stand on something (the manager should have entered the payroll correctly) is not a brilliant career move when there are employees with bills to pay. Plus this is an easy win for your reputation: No more Dr. No.
4. Don’t beat people over the head with laws – I use “the law” as a last resort. When you go on and on about “the law” you aren’t gaining anyone’s respect. Instead you perpetuate the myth that HR is a bunch of police hanging out in the office with radar guns that catch policy violations.
5. Talk to non- HR people – How many times have you been at a company event and the attendance is segregated by functions? Sales sits with sales. Accounting sits with accounting. Don’t go sit with all the HR people. Get out of your comfort zone. Actually, this is good advice for anyone. Use company events as an opportunity to network internally and meet other people. Do you really want to hear about your lunch mates home renovation woes again?
What would you add? What behavior do you see HR doing that drives you nuts and hurts our reputation?