You are line manager.
You have a problem.
One of your direct reports smells.
Who you gonna call?
All too often, it would seem that HR would be the first (and quite possibly only) port of call for the line manager in such situations.
Indeed, Canadian HR blogger Jane Watson suggests that this scenario happens to HR professionals with such frequency that it might be appropriate to consider it a rite of passage for HR.
This got me thinking that it might be interesting to compile a checklist/ scorecard/ bingo game, detailing a broad range of HR rites of passage.
What are HR’s rites of passage? Compiling the ultimate HR checklist
I need your help to do this. I’d love to get your answers to any and all of the following questions:
- What are HR’s rites of passage?
- What situations do you think will inevitably befall anyone and everyone that takes on a career in HR?
- What are the most frequently asked questions posed by line managers to HR?
- Have there been any situations in your own HR career that seemed almost too strange, silly or surreal to believe, until you realised that you weren’t the only one they’d happened to?
To give you some idea of what this list might involve, here’s a link to a great post from 2012 by Gemma Reucroft, detailing her “top 10 line manager crimes against their HR team”: Crimes Against Your HR Department.
What would you add to the list?
Please do get in touch and share your suggestions – either by leaving a comment (below), or via Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.
I’d love to hear from you.
HR’s rites of passage: The Storify story
Here is a Storify story, detailing how this post came to be. It all started with a line in a blog post from Jane Watson, and developed via a great Twitter conversation with Jane and Gemma Reucroft.
UPDATE 1 (Tuesday 22 January 2013): Evil HR Lady spreads the #hrriteofpassage word!
@RealEvilHRLady (aka Suzanne Lucas) has very kindly published a post to help spread the word about HR’s rites of passage. You can read it here: HR Rites of Passage.
I’m also delighted to report that the #hrriteofpassage hashtag is generating no end of excellent examples of real-life HR people’s examples of real-life HR rites of passage!
Click on the #hrriteofpassage hashtag to see more, or view the highlights in my Storify story: ‘HR? My employee smells’: HR’s rites of passage.
UPDATE 2 (Wednesday 23 January 2013): When HR falls victim to the “blame game” (via NoExcusesHR)
Sarah Miller (aka @whippasnappahr) points out via Twitter that the latest post from Jay Kuhns (aka @jrkuhns) resonates with the #hrriteofpassage theme.
Jay’s post is entitled Shut Up, I’m Not Being Defensive, and I would urge everyone reading this to head over to Jay’s always-excellent NoExcusesHR blog to read it in full.
Here’s a relevant extract of what Jay has to say on situations in which HR finds itself at the receiving end of the “blame game”:
One of the core competences of the HR team is to recruit viable candidates for the organization. It’s an exciting part of the job, and with the crush of so many social channels available, it can be an incredibly creative part as well.
Except when recruitment isn’t going so well…then we suck. Or at least we’re sometimes made to feel that way, even when we know we’re putting all our efforts into the search process. We often need a hiring manager who understands the dynamics of an odd labor market and can actually make a hiring decision. It’s really nice when that happens.
So in that moment when you’re receiving “feedback” (read here -> HR is being told how ineffective they’ve been and all you need to do is listen to the completely inexperienced non-HR leaders and all will be right with the world) how do you react?
Are you angry? Is frustration creeping in? Are you laughing when you hear the most ridiculous suggestions and you realize they are serious?
UPDATE 3 (Wednesday 23 January 2013): Is ‘the husband call’ the rarest #hrriteofpassage?
Here’s a very interesting discussion, which brings to light what would appear to be a very rare #hrriteofpassage, namely: “The husband call.”
Has anyone out there ever been the recipient of a “husband call”?
This particular #hrriteofpassage came up via a Twitter discussion between @jsarahwatshr and @realevilhrlady:
@jsarahwatshr: “The first time that a family member of someone who was just fired calls you to share their feelings”
@realevilhrlady: Have you ever had a husband call? I’ve gotten a ton of these calls, but always from the wife.
@jsarahwatshr: Very interesting…no, I’ve never heard from a husband; just wife & mother
So how about you: Have you ever received “the husband call” during your HR career?
UPDATE 4 (Friday 25 January 2013): Snakes In A Hospital? Just another #hrriteofpassage
I’ve been quite amazed by the sheer diversity of HR rites of passage that have been mentioned by readers of this post over the past few days (see my Storify story for full details of all the #hrriteofpassage tweets). But even more amazing has been the fact that no matter how unusual the #hrriteofpassage, it seems that more than one HR person will have experienced it.
However, top US HR blogger Jay Kuhns may well have come up with a truly unique rite of passage for HR: Dealing with a snake that got loose in a hospital! Jay mentions this event in his comment below.
Responding to my Twittter request for further detail of this remarkable-sounding tale, Jay kindly shared a link to a 2011 post from his NoExcusesHR blog: Logic and Snakes Never Work.
I really like Jay’s point in this post that a common characteristic of many of the rites of passage faced by a typical HR person during their career is an apparent absence of logic. Jay says:
The one thing that seems to be missing in almost every conflict that comes up though is logic. If a rational person were to take a moment and consider the choice they were about to make, I’m guessing logic would dictate that bringing a snake to a hospital is probably a bad idea. But that’s just me.
Jay’s advice? “Don’t get tainted”:
A core strength of Human Resources professionals is that despite the turbulence we all manage, we are able to see so many good things happen in our organizations every day. It is our job to not only support the various parts of the organization when employee relations issues boil over; but we must seek out the good work too. The overwhelming number of encounters our employees have with our customers are terrific. I need to make sure I learn more about those so I can recognize their hard work.
I’m also very pleased to report that @HR_Gem has written a great new post, highlighting further examples of the #hrriteofpassage in all its glory: You haven’t worked in HR until……...
UPDATE 5 (Monday 28 January 2013): The #hrriteofpassage gene mutates…
I’m very proud and pleased to see the #hrriteofpassage gene spreading and mutating. Top UK blogger Neil Usher has adapted the “rites of passage” approach to focus on workplace rites of passage in the latest post on his Global Institute of Nowhere blog. This is a very enjoyable post indeed – please do give it a read!
UPDATE 6 (Wednesday 6 February 2013): ‘Dealing with tearful employees is a regular occurrence,” says @HRManNZ
New Zealand-based HR blogger Richard Westney (aka @HRManNZ on Twitter) has just published an excellent post in which he expands on his earlier Twitter contributions to the #hrriteofpassage debate. The post is entitled How to make a grown man cry and other valuable HR lessons. Richard generously shares a number of key learning points from his own career, along with an overview of the lessons learned from each. I imagine quite a lot of you out there will be nodding your heads in recognition at what Richard has to say.