Is Human Resources Your Enemy?

When discussing consequences for poor work performance during our training programs, we hear operational managers complain about their inability to take corrective action or replace an employee because, “human resources makes it almost impossible to do so.”

I have mixed feelings when I hear this rather negative reaction towards HR. If a manager truly believes that their human resources department is getting in the way, maybe it’s a good thing they have those constraints from HR, which may have prevented them from getting into serious trouble. The attitude of releasing employees “just because” is not good enough in today’s climate.

Conversely, a human resources department should never have to dictate what a manager needs to do in the context of working with their team, if the manager is managing correctly. In this scenario, the problem doesn’t reside with HR; the problem is with the attitude and behaviors of the manager. The relationship with HR shouldn’t be one of “us vs. them.” Considering that the protections provided by HR are important to prevent discrimination and abuse of managerial power, an effective manager shouldn’t worry about applying appropriate consequences for poor performance. We believe that if you are practicing the foundations of good leadership, you will never have to worry about crossing this human resources line.

How can you make sure you can effectively manage an employee who is not working out? Follow these steps to ensure you’re moving in the right direction:

  • Clarify expectations. Setting and clarifying clear expectations is the foundation of performance improvement.
  • Set well understood objectives and/or executable goals. With expectations clearly established, make sure the individual understands the business impact of their performance, both positive and negative.
  • Monitor performance consistently. Have frequent review periods where progress or lack thereof can be monitored. This allows for appropriate correction when off track, and appreciation when moving in the right direction.
  • Provide support and resources. By engaging in a conversation about the performance issue, you may discover that the issue stems from not having the right tools to do the job.
  • Communicate effectively. Finally, to provide effective feedback you have to be prepared to communicate clearly and consistently. Be descriptive about what you want and specific about the actions necessary to be successful.

Human resources does not have to be the enemy when taking the action you need to create the team that your business deserves. An adept manager can create their team the right way by executing the steps above.

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