Thursday, February 14, 2013

With Extreme Prejudice

Strong words. Maybe even a little scary to hear.  Try saying them out loud. With extreme prejudice. It doesn't sound like you, does it? It certainly doesn't describe any behavior you would demonstrate in the workplace.

Or does it?

As human resources professionals we are often asked to handle the most complicated and legally sensitive employee issues. The reality of today's workplace is that regulatory agencies make it easy for incompetent and reckless employees to take action against their former employers. That places a burden on the human resources team to ensure appropriate procedures are followed leading up to a termination, and that the process is handled in a caring and thorough way.

Yes, I said caring. The days of HR being cold and distant in order to simply "do their job" is like telling your child that the Internet is a passing fad. It's stupid.

The often unrecognized power that you have as a human resources leader is needed to assist with making difficult employment decisions. But it is also a tool that can manage the process effectively. Why is this important? Simple - you are not "the HR person" in this scenario, you are the organization.

With power comes responsibility. When we're wrapped up in a difficult employee matter, we often don't realize what is going on around us. The other employees who are aware of the situation are watching.

They're paying attention to how we use our power and how we treat those involved in the various issues that have to be addressed. They focus on what we do and not necessarily on what we say.

That is a lot of pressure.

How About You
Try saying that phrase again...with extreme's part of our reality. If it's not something you can handle then you probably need to look for a position outside of human resources leadership. That's okay...our jobs are hard. For those that accept the burden and responsibility of leadership however, get used to this phrase. You'll need it once in a while.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit


  1. Jay (or should I call you Spiderman?) - well said. This is the part of the HR job that many in our profession need to get gripped in with. It truly is a case of the impact on those that remain vs. those that are departing - lessons learned when doing layoffs too. Thanks for the hitting us over the head with this post - always good reminders!

    1. Many thanks Scott. It's a tough issue, but one we have to deal with as HR pros.

      BTW - the Spiderman event was awesome for our patients!