What CEOs Hate About HR People

Meredith Soleau Communication, HR, Meredith Soleau, Uncategorized

After my last post here at FOT, I walked into my CEO’s office, with my tail between my legs, my head held down in shame, and I told him I had been officially blackballed by the HR community.  I asked him if he wanted me to have Kris Dunn pull the article and if I should go grab a box for my personal belongings.

He read my article, he read all 70-something comments, he looked at me, and he smiled.

Meredith, this is so brilliant!  I love it!  Don’t let these people get you down. I have an idea for your next post.  I want your next one to be called, “What CEOs Hate About HR People”.  Oh, and Meredith, you did the right thing by not hiring her. Don’t doubt yourself because some people disagreed with you. Now, put on your big girl pants, and keep doing what you’re doing.

So here I am, on assignment from the Boss Man, writing about what CEOs hate about HR people.

I’ve interviewed five CEOs.  Their companies range from 100 employees to 1,000 employees.  I have promised them all anonymity.  They didn’t ask for their privacy, I just offered it up front (I figure they have better things to do with their time than deal with hate emails from FOT readers).

  • I think HR people can become too employee friendly, and they blame that on protecting classes of people. Heck, this day and age, almost everyone falls into some sort of class. Why do I have to feel forced to keep people who aren’t performing because you’re too scared – or don’t want – to pull the trigger? I value your opinion, but if I want someone gone, you had better figure out how to make that happen.  I don’t want to hear excuses that they’re protected. I want you to help me run my business.  You work for me. Don’t forget who pays you.
  • You don’t/can’t recruit.
  • You’re nothing more than a paper shuffler.
  • I can outsource your job and not have to deal with you.  It seems easier than listening to you tell me you “can’t” or “don’t feel comfortable” doing something.
  • You can’t conceptualize how to put together a cutting edge development program, despite HR talk about becoming a “learning organization.”
  • There’s too much of a focus on compliance and protecting me from myself.  I have learned that if you treat employees well, you don’t have issues, so compliance is not an issue.  My only complaint employee ever has been the HR Director.
  • I hear lots of talk. I see limited results.
  • You can’t read financial statements. I don’t consider someone a good business partner when they can’t understand our finances.
  • You’re in HR and hate dealing with people.  You always complain, you’re always grumpy, and it seems like you just wanted to be the boss of something. You are in the wrong profession.
  • I got rid of HR because no one could hit objectives.  I now have a professional recruiter and a Director of People Development.
  • You can’t sell. If you can’t sell the direction of my business or a job to someone, what good are you?
  • I hate it when HR brings me a problem without also bringing me an answer.  When a weird and strange HR event occurs, which seems to be just about every day, I hope that my HR person will bring it to my attention without delay, but I also hope that she/he will have an opinion as to how we should handle it or some options on different approaches.  They should also be ready with pros and cons on their ideas, as most of these situations are NOT so clear cut.
  • Sometimes it is necessary to “see things through the associate’s eyes” but far too many HR professionals do not know where to draw the line on this issue.
  • I hate it when HR does not know when to involve outside legal advice and when not to.  I expect you guys to know the employment laws better than me, and to have strong opinions about what is over your head.  However, equally bad is when an HR person is scared to make ANY call and ALWAYS says, “well before we do anything we need to check with a lawyer.”
  • You preach about performance reviews, yet you have no idea how to manage performance once you get the results.
  • Most of us are where we are because we enjoy what our companies actually do for our customers each day, and we view HR as taking us away from this.  Spending a half day discussing a family medical leave issue or a 401K problem takes me away from the parts of the business enjoy most.  So anything that my HR team can do to minimize wasting my time on HR is appreciated.  Any CEO worth his salt knows how important her/his associates are, so we will make time for it, but we look to you all to make sure that the time we spend is impactful and efficient.

There you have it!  Out of the mouths of 5 CEOs!

What do you think? Are they spot on? Or do they just not “get” what HR does?