To be honest, it depends. You may think that is a typical response from an HR person – finding that grey, safe, middle ground in an answer. But hear me out.
If I were to draw on a comparison, I would point you to any customer service department. The role of that department is to provide excellent service and maintain positive relationships (to retain customers), but at the same time there is a competing interest to ensure they are also following company directives (adherence to guidelines).
In a situation where both the customer and the company are served well: friend. If one party feels they were not served well: foe. And so is the journey of HR.
Leadership may feel their HR department is being too “extreme” when it comes to following the legal aspects of employee related decisions. Employees may feel HR is of no value because they only exist to protect the company. Foe.
Solve an employee issue. Friend.
It is no wonder the push and pull in the love/hate relationship with HR exists. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the perception of the customer. How do they feel after an interaction with the Customer Service (Human Resources) Department?
Over the past year (and even longer) I have read stories, participated in many conversations and debates on the harsh view of Human Resources. As a practicing professional in this field, I have experienced the criticism firsthand. The one thing I have learned is you can accept this as truth and continue to be embroiled in the friend/foe tug of war, or you can make a decided effort to change and be a better HR leader by actively changing the narrative.
You may be asking how?
Simply put: STOP LETTING HUMAN RESOURCES BE DISLIKED. Be the leader that no longer allows people to “blame” the HR function. Be the leader that utilizes communication and displays the ability to work with people and not against them. Do not just manage relationships, build them. And for goodness sakes – stop hiding behind policies. You will never change the conversation if you do not use your voice.
What have you done to positively change the view of Human Resources in your company?
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