Here’s Why I Have Big Trust Issues With HR

build trust

You all know I love me some HR. I believe in its fundamental tenets of understanding work behavior.

I also enjoy the small window of opportunity we have to balance both the needs of the business and the employee. To many, it seems like a job anyone can do, but for those that do it every day and do it right, they know it takes a special kind of professional.

The rebuttal to this line of thinking is: “Well, if it requires a “special” person – why does it appear that anyone with any background can do the job?” Indeed, there are HR practitioners from a myriad of degree fields and backgrounds that have found their way to HR.

Do they all belong there? No.

My name is Janine, and I have trust issues with HR

Human Resources is a profession whose entire existence is predicated on how well they manage, or in some organizations, herd other humans in an effort to ensure the companies success and a healthy bottom line. Yet, it has been my experience that we have a tough time managing ourselves.

In some cases, it is at the precise time that some people became HR practitioners that they forgot who they were and why they were there. Values are forgotten. Integrity out the door. Ethical behavior — what’s that?

In fact, I’m sure some never set out to break the law in life, but they have.

When I worked in HR, I met a lot of great professionals along the way. There were also far more that left a lot to be desired. I found myself at odds much of the time with how I chose to operate versus “the way” HR chose to position itself in the organization.

This disconnect garnered me fans by way of my internal and external partners, but not with my own HR brethren.

Here’s what got me in trouble:

  • Working with my internal partners to ensure we had “real” and “practical” solutions to their concerns.
  • Advocating for candidates that were qualified, but would have otherwise been set aside for less qualified candidates.
  • Keeping up on HR and business trends, practices and laws in an effort to ensure that we were not only compliant, but remained relevant.
  • Doing what I knew was right.

If you can find anything wrong with what I detailed above, comment below and let me know. I am always interested in another viewpoint.

Here’s what I have learned

As I said, I have trust issues with HR. It took me some time to muster up the courage to say this about a discipline I love, but that has so often disappointed me.

Do you know how disconcerting it is to be bullied, harassed, thrown to the wolves all while working in HR and having to sell the value of what you do to employees? Moreover, it is painful to have to bite your tongue when employee after employee comes to you for help and an ear and you can’t tell them that you too have trust issues with HR.

  1. Businesses need to stop involving HR in their dirt. That is to say, let HR do what they do. Don’t corrupt us or our efforts.
  2. HR practitioners everywhere need to have enough backbone to call out unethical, illegal and toxic behaviors without hesitation. Stop being brokers for unethical and illegal practices. When the employees understand that you don’t have their back, your job is over.
  3. All of these years we have been asking for a seat at the grand table, yet we let anyone and everyone sit with us. The same way we have to earn the respect of the C-Suite is the same way we should operate as we usher in new talent to HR.

Everyone can’t sit with us

It takes a certain person, with compassion, business acumen, a desire to continue learning, discernment and above all the want to build cohesive, non-toxic work environments.

Personally, I get excited about providing solutions to workplace debacles, struggles and blindspots. I like to understand what my partners need and then I go to work crafting something they can use.

This is how HR is supposed to work.

I continue to wait for the day when I stop hearing how HR has failed employees. I hope we reach a point where we start to safeguard our discipline from those who would rather detract from it or turn it into the cesspools that exist elsewhere in business.

We have to do better. We need to do better.

This was originally published on Janine Truitt’s The Aristocracy of HR blog.

  • CommentsUnlimited

    I wholehearedly agree!!!!!!! I am a senior level HR professional and I KNOW exactly what you are talking about. HR get a backbone and do the right thing! Dont let the business walk all over you, discredit you, bully you and as noted in the article, make you the face of all that is wrong.

    • Janine Truitt

      Thank you so much for commenting. We have so much to offer as a discipline and it makes me so angry that we are typecast as “useless” and “ineffective”. I am holding out hope that we can turn this thing around. I appreciate you reading.

      • CommentsUnlimited

        I think a lot of HR folk (some professionals…some not so much) are classified as useless and ineffective because the business leaders will not allow them to facilitate the path that is ethically and professionally correct. Some business leaders want to “run” HR and just want us there as a “face” and not partners in the implementation of business management. Certainly, we have to prove that we are worthy of such inclusion, but often times even after we have done so…we are excluded in the real decisionmaking process. In my experience, sometimes it has taken a real catastrophe to happen, where management refused to adhere to my professional dictate, for the business leader to consider me and hence forth utilize me as the HR knowledge expert I have groomed myself to be.