A great deal of time and effort is spent in blogs, on Twitter, and in other social media outlets discussing what constitutes great HR. What we can do and what we should be doing to be more strategic, to be better business partners, to perpetuate our businesses and help achieve its goals through its people are the topics of conversation.
I think (at least hope) I’m a fairly good HR pro. No one is perfect, and by all means I know I have my opportunities, but I like to believe I’m at least striving towards practicing great HR. And as I do so, there are certain kinds of HR behaviors I’ve recognized that I believe hold our profession back. I call them toxic HR behaviors.
Toxic behaviors prolong the bad rap that many HR departments have earned over the years and detract from our business focus. For every one step forward we take with great HR practices, each instance of toxic HR pulls us two steps back. These behaviors manifest in many ways.
Let’s take a look at a few of my, uh, favorites:
The HR Weenie – the classic black & white, rule/policy follower. The HR Weenie is so caught up in what the policy says that she (or he) can’t see beyond that to make a decision that’s in the best interest of the business. Weenies love to cite laws and/or specific passages from internal policies and are often heard uttering the words “we can’t do that!”
The Ice Princess (or Prince) – has forgotten that “human” is a part of “human resources.” The Ice Princess is probably so aloof and jaded by too much time spent handling difficult or unpleasant situations that she (or he) can no longer muster an ounce of emotion to remind herself that there is a person, or people, on the other end of that “situation.”
The Drama Queen (or King) – the polar opposite of the Ice Princess, but just as toxic, the Drama Queen can’t separate enough of her own opinions or emotions to make a rational decision. This type also tends to over-react to every situation before knowing all of the facts. If the Drama Queen isn’t careful, she may find herself collapsed in an exhausted heap from living her life in “the sky is falling” style.
The Rumormonger (aka Scandal Starter, Nosy Nellie or Desperate Housewife Wannebe) – loves to be the bearer of juicy gossip about “developments” within the office. The problem with the Rumormonger is she goes beyond simply keeping a pulse of the organization to believing that every disagreement between two people, every poor managerial decision, or every simple question about a policy is the start of a huge issue brewing. Teamed up with the Drama Queen, the Rumormonger can cause some serious damage to morale.
Short-Sighted Sally – Sally’s myopic tunnel vision prevents her from being able to see beyond “what’s always been done.” Hesitant to change any policy or process (outdated as it may be), she’ll never move beyond transactional paper-pushing or be able to think outside the silo of HR to understand the impact that HR can potentially have on helping her company achieve overall business goals.
Who am I missing? What toxic HR behaviors grate on your nerves?
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