Friday, July 27, 2012

Human Nature, Revenge and HR

One of my standard, and quite lame, HR jokes is that if it wasn't for human nature I'd be out of a job. The point being that people behave in such peculiar ways that sooner or later the HR team is going to be called upon to resolve a problem.

But what happens when the human nature piece is alive and kicking in the HR team?

Humans First
The quality of my professional relationships, for me, represent the most important aspect of my work. Yes I have leadership responsibilities across the organization and within HR; but first and foremost I am a leader of the entire team that works for my company. Guess what? That whole group of people are human. If we lose sight of this most basic, yet often overlooked piece of the work puzzle, we're failing before we even get started. Awareness of even the most simple issues and common courtesies go a long way, particularly when you have several thousand people all working in the same building.

Revenge Is So Tempting
Part of our responsibility to our organizations as HR pros is to resolve some of the most difficult employee relations issues. When those issues take bizarre twists and turns (as has been known to happen on occasion!) it is often only HR that bears the brunt. Sometimes that gets very frustrating.

Let me say it again...bizarre and manipulative employee behavior can get very, very frustrating.

HR Accountability
Ultimately, despite being human ourselves, HR can not afford to be tempted by the power and influence delegated to us and misdirect it towards anyone. We simply can not. Thus, the challenge for us when feeling oh-so-human is to reach out to our colleagues who understand the unique pressures we face on behalf of our organizations. Leveraging social tools to connect is one way. Plus there's always that old-fashioned gadget called a telephone that also works pretty effectively.

How About You
How do you fit the human puzzle pieces together in your work? Do you take the time to ensure a nice clean fit; or, is it easier to not worry about the end result and simply cast away the "extra" pieces?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit


  1. Great article, Jay. I am a firm believer in working as a team to problem solve. Hands down, HR can be frustrating. Discussing frustrations in a healthy, non-revenging way can help put all of the pieces together. If I am not strong in one area, maybe someone else on the team is. HR teams should build and support each other. I don't tolerate HR backbiting other employees. You are correct. We are all human and will make mistakes and get frustrated.


    1. Steve - I couldn't agree more. Leveraging our colleagues for their expertise, or to vent, helps us maintain the level of professionalism our employees expect from HR. Great comment.

  2. This is a very important point, and one I haven't seen addressed before. So often, HR becomes the target for political backlash and it is human nature to want to hit back. Good suggestions on how to deal with that frustration. As HR professionals, we all need a strong network of peers.

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback. I appreciate you stopping by and participating!