Let It Go, Chump: You Care More About Your HR Police Rap Than Others.

The other day was one of those days where I felt I was talking in a long funnel. All that seemed to be heard was “wu-wah-wu-wah-wah”. And it made me angry. Not Hulk angry—but Girl angry. The kind of angry that keeps you up at night. The kind that wakes your husband at 3am wanting a back-scratch. Stomach hurt angry. Had to go run several miles at lunch angry.

I am hypersensitive to the “everyone hates HR police” moniker, so I don’t mandate anything. I don’t like mandates so why should anyone else? Besides, telling anyone what to do doesn’t get me far. So I present options and give my assessment of risk; managers make final decisions. After months of presenting options to my managers, negotiating, and using “backdoor” strategies to get HR practices in place, I finally found myself in a situation where when I gave reasonable pushback, I was instantaneously saddled as a bureaucrat. Nice speak for Police. I wanted to crawl over/under the table… yes, the very table everyone wants to sit at.

All the trust I felt I’d built, ignored. Ten + years of experience, ignored. And it made me feel… well, angry. Let’s get this straight… not wanting to follow my recommendation doesn’t bother me in the least. Being labeled as a bureaucrat after one pushback session does. Big time. I’ve tried so hard to not fill that description — and it slapped me in the face, which hurt and left a bruise.

But after a few nights sleep I realized — nobody cares about that “title” but me. I also realize every other VP in the organization is also a Policeman (or woman, whatever).

CEO= Boardroom Police/ VP Police
VP Finance = Budget Police
VP Marketing = Brand Police
VP Customer Relations = Experience Police (ie: protect customers from poor products; insane reactions, etc.)
VP HR = Legal Police
VP Sales = Well they are not the police… they are the Perps. But we love them anyway!

Unless your HR function is devoid of process in which you have to assess risk (i.e., Recruiting, Employee relations, Benefits administration, man…even training), YOU WILL ALWAYS BE LOOKED AT AS POLICE. So no matter how you position, give options, or smile through every “relationship-building meeting” you will always be looked at some time as a police-er. And nobody cares but you.

Soak that in. There is no other truth than that. Who gives a crap?! Really.

So after 10 years in the HR space, I give up trying to change that truth. And after sleeping on it for a few days, I think my HR role will be better for it. Like a co-dependent letting go of a husband who beats me. It’ll take me a while to really let go of the baggage, but I am getting there.

Sticks and stones, baby…

FOT Background Check

Dawn Burke
Dawn Burke is an HR Leader, speaker and writer, specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture.  Her HR career has spanned the last 20 years, most recently serving as VP of People for Birmingham, Alabama's award-winning technology company, Daxko. That’s right – the very DAXKO that our very own KD is an alum of, because there are only so many people in the big B’ham who are worthy of a VP of People title. A true Generalist, she’s done a little bit of everything, but recruiting and training is where she gets her mojo. She’s based in the good ol' blogging capitol of the south, Birmingham, Alabama, where you can frequently find her listening to the Beatles and REM, watching Breaking Bad reruns (and Snapped and Dateline), enjoying serious amounts of coffee (and cheese, but not together!), dreaming of where she will travel next, and wondering how in the world this theatre grad ever got into football or HR…Check out her blog at dawnhburke.com or talk to Dawn via emailLinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter


  1. As a former police officer, I never minded being the “HR police”. At least I got to wear cool shoes and more fashionable clothes.

  2. Meredith says:

    I hate policing things. But, I do it anyway. Take, for example, the new rule that everyone has to clock in and out. EVEN sales people. EVEN managers. We are doing this to protect our asses from wage and hour (you know – since they started to police more). Everyone is bitching (because I guess it’s hard to clock in or something).
    I have to be the bad guy on this one, and that’s fine. At least I know my company won’t get in trouble if we ever get audited.
    I totally tried to blame Obama, but they aren’t having it.

  3. Jay Kuhns says:

    Don’t forget…the Police are also “here to serve.” I dig that label for HR.

  4. dawn hrdlica-burke (@dawnHRrocks) says:

    @Joan Cool shoes are a must (says me in my flip-flops…does a Kenneth Cole flip-flop count as cool?)
    @Meredith coming from a retail sales background… I get the clock in-clock out frustration. Didn’t know managers had to clock in (are they non-exempt “key holders” or what?).
    @jay don’t forget “and to protect”….. too true!

  5. Buzz Rooney says:

    Thank you for this post, Dawn! You just gave me the perfect comeback for the next time someone comes at me with the “HR Police” line. Asking HR to apologize for pushing its angle is asking us to apologize for doing the job we were hired to do.

  6. Burberry UK says:

    My mate physical activity is also football obviously most on my family customers appreciated it.

  7. i have to say it’s great post

  8. There are some interesting points in time in this article, Dawn! You just gave me the return of the perfect next time someone comes to me, the police line HR. HR issues, sorry to push the edge requires that we forgive, we do the work were hired.

  9. Art says:

    I’m a fan of the show “Person of Interest” and their “bad guy” group of cops, or apparently any issue which deals with dirty cops (at least, as best I can tell) is referred to as “HR”. When I first heard it I thought of the usual corporate definition (even though I’m a retired career Army officer) of “Human Resources,” but the more I watch the show, and the more I hear them say “you gotta take that up with HR” or some such, and by that they mean “dirty cops”, so, I go to Google to see if this Police HR is really human resources (In the Army there’s S-1 or low level admin {Human resources work at Brigade level or below}, G-1 admin {human resources work at Division or above}, and then there’s recruitment {as in the guys who recruit HS kids}, and lastly selection {higher level officers who decide who gets that 1 in 500 slot in flight school, or that 1 in god knows how many who get through to Delta Force, and so on}). As in the long parenthesis above, the Army HAS no “Human Resources, so I figured the Police wouldn’t either.”

    So I guess the question is, in this show “Person of Interest”, are they talking about some police jargon that civvies don’t know about? Or are they just making up some random police evil persons unit and calling it
    “HR”. Anyone have any ideas?

Comments are now closed for this article.

Contact Us | Hire FOT to Speak | About FOT