Why the HR department gets a bad name and some ways this can be avoided

Most HR professionals will agree that the HR department sometimes gets a bit of a bad rep within a business.

Rightly or wrongly, they are sometimes viewed as inflexible and preoccupied with policies and protocol; blockers to commerciality and growth. Let’s face it, so are their finance and IT counterparts.

We’ve pulled together a list of tips to help HR professionals endear themselves to the rest of their organisations:

Be there for everyone
This is a no-brainer – championing the people is a very basic element of your role.

Be fair – even if this means telling business leaders that they are acting unfairly
This is never going to be easy but it’s important to speak up for what’s right

Speak the language of business
If you sound like you know what you’re talking about when it comes to the commercials, you’ll gain a lot of respect

Don’t tell the business what it can’t do
This is negative and – to be honest – they just don’t want to hear it. Instead of creating problems, try framing your point in a more positive way, instead coming up with solutions

Don’t just regurgitate policy
This just makes you look inexperienced. There are other ways to getting your point across!

Don’t get power hungry
There is a widely held perception that the HR team is in a position of power over the organisation; that they call the shots, making decisions regarding hiring, firing, promotions and salaries.
99% of the time a mere perception is all this is, so just remember that, and don’t play up to it. Not a good look.

Don’t do your leaders jobs
If you can, avoid being used as a mouthpiece for delivering bad news. Leaders should have the integrity to do this themselves. Don’t let them hide behind you!

Try to care less about being a peer
Understand that you’re there to support the business. You’ll be considered a peer if you deliver.

Be responsive
This one’s simple: when someone in the business requests something of you – try to make it happen, or, let them know why you can’t and offer an alternative solution. Update them constantly.

Be solutions-driven
Again, this is the mantra of the HR professional creating solutions, not problems applies here.

Be commercial
We realise that this doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but make an effort to understand the fundamental principles and your leaders will thank you for it.

Understand how the business grows and how it makes money
…and then help them to achieve this.

Become a cost centre: where possible cover your costs, or even make money!
Admittedly this one’s a little more tricky, particularly in some types of organisation. But, applying a commercial mindset is an excellent first step to this way of thinking. Once you’ve done that you should start to look at things a little differently.