HR Exposed: Put Some Pants On

Kathy Rapp Bad HR, Kathy Rapp, Performance

There are many classic quotes from the movie, “The Hangover”, and one of the more PG-rated is Phil saying to Alan, “Would you please put some pants on?  I feel weird having to ask you twice.”

What does this have to do with my post?  We’ll get there.

I almost really didn’t want to write this as I’m a huge proponent of talking about what is RIGHT about HR and believe there have been significant strides made in the last decade.  However, there are still organizations that are doing it all wrong.  This example comes from a global, Fortune 500 organization headquartered in the U.S.  It went down like this:

Sr. Director of Operations (“Sue”) emails her HR Director (“Jane”):  “Jane, can you send me the form to counsel an employee on a performance issue?  I need to implement a formal plan of action and document behavioral concerns.  Thanks – Sue”.

Jane’s response:  “Sue, corporate wants HR to prepare these documents for you.  Can you send me the issues and what you recommend for the employee?  Thanks”.

Sue reaches out to me with the email thread (we’re good friends and she knows my HR background): “WTF!!  I’m a senior executive at this organization.  Why can’t I write my own employee’s performance plan?  What is wrong with you people in HR?!!”

My response:  “Wow.  Does Jane know you’ve been managing employees for 20 years and have written and delivered many performance plans? (rhetorical question)  I’d tell Jane it will be quicker for you to do the 1st draft and then send it to her for “approval”.  See if that flies”.

Five days later…

Me:  “Sue, what ever happened with your employee situation?”

Sue:  “Jane told me she still needed to write it, so I spent 50 minutes typing out the scenario and sent it to her.  I’m still waiting for the document”.

Me:  “WTF!!  Doesn’t Jane understand the need for immediate feedback especially because this involved a customer complaint?!!” (I’m good at rhetorical questions aren’t I?)

The performance plan ended up being delivered two weeks after the actual incident with the customer and the employee.  Not only is that a travesty, but the back-and-forth time spent between Sue and Jane probably totaled eight hours.  Two senior leaders, each making well over $100K spent time on an issue that should have been written, delivered and resolved within two hours – tops!

So, yes, there are still organizations where HR has their pants around their ankles, exposed and fair game for the cries of, “What is wrong with HR?!!”  Like Phil, many of us find it weird we have to continue to say, “Pull your pants up” and get in the game.

When we look at our profession, there is so much good – and so much that has significantly improved with regards to reputation, perception and respect. If this scenario is going on in your HR organization, what are you doing to change it?  “Pants on the ground, Pants on the ground.  Look’in like a fool with your pants on the ground!”