Stop The Incompetence in HR!


When is your management going to wake up and realize that their Human Resources function is run by incompetent staff? What will you do as the head of HR when that day comes?

And even though you have skated by for years running your little HR department without anyone in management saying anything negative about how you deliver services, there will come a time when someone new joins your company and points out the obvious to everyone. You can either wait until that day comes and resign in disgrace, or you can get your act together and learn your dam job!

I have a particular bent against incompetency being allowed in performance, which I chalk up to 30 years in the performance improvement field. Yet when it comes to HR, it brings me to a boil instantly when I see employees suffer because the dip stick running HR has no clue what they are doing, but they are so full of themselves they are above the need to improve.

The main reason we have so many incompetent HR leaders running smaller organizations is that the management team wants an administrative function, so they hire people that “have been in HR for years” whether they have anything to show (competencies) or not. Have you been an HR Generalist? Great you can now become an HR Manager. Uh, wait a minute?


How Do You Stop The Incompetence?

First thing to do is recognize as a senior manager, especially if the HR function reports to you, that you should know what an HR Manager should be doing. Are they reactive or proactive a majority of the time? Do they spend too long recruiting, and you still end up with mismatched people and roles? Do they have goals? Do they need outside consultants, attorneys and groups to support their every decision? Do they ever take a stand against a management’s decision and push the norm?

Second is to decide if you replace this person, or get them on an aggressive developmental path with a live coach for independent feedback. And while certifications are nice, they really only mean they can retain information long enough to pass an exam. Spend this money are your top notch people.

Third is to act today and not put this off for months, because your entire people operation suffers when the HR leader is a dud.


The Power of Auditing the HR Function

While many organizations audit the compliance and operational areas of HR, many forget to audit the people. When I audit HR or Training, I spend the bulk of my time assessing how the HR function actually functions. Where is the time and energy spent? Do they understand their role, responsibilities and where they add value? And just because they understand it, I want to see how they are doing it.

I’ve seen HR Managers that brag about having a seat at the table with Senior Management. When I’ve observed them in these meetings, honestly, their lack of participation or value would not be missed. And that is everyone’s fault.

Because even a high tech company runs on the humans working for them, every company in America would be in better shape if their HR functions did their jobs properly. And for those companies with Cracker-Jack HR Leadership, you already know this is true. Your people are engaged. Your Management is engaged. You are achieving goals, growing and your end results improve year after year.

But for those of you with HR duds leading the functions, you will continue to struggle. Replace with more competent leadership and you will see a rapid change. A note to management, you may find yourself challenged to work differently with better HR. Yet, would that be so bad?