How to ruin your HR career

by Iain Hopkins08 Apr 2013

In order to truly grow as a business function, HR must continue its integration as a principal player in the formulation business strategy – yet according to one HR leader, some HR professionals are stuck in the past.

For Mike Spinale, an HR leader at a US-based healthcare information technology company, and adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University, too often he hears horror stories of ineffectual and mistrusted HR people. “It’s always disturbing to me to hear these HR horror stories about HR people ruining the reputation of my chosen field,” he commented on the Personal Branding Blog.

Spinale points out a number of ways he has witnessed HR professional’s diminishing their own reputations, and the reputation of the business function as a whole. Do any of his points spell home-truths?

Remaining ‘old school’ – One sure way to ruin an HR reputation is to embrace the ways of the old ‘personnel department’ – if day-in day-out you’re focused on files and paperwork instead of being an advocate for employees and management, you haven’t caught up to HR in 2013.

Policing your team – disciplining team members for coming in late, taking a lunch that went a little too long, and checking their Facebook page.

Remaining separate from the business you don’t need to know anything about how the business runs, the customers, the market, or other business functions like Finance and IT, right? Your job is the hirer and the firer.

Being a corporate spy. Watch your employee’s every move and reporting to the powers above. Instead of coaching an employee through an issue, you report their conduct. This will go a long way in ensuring that you never have positive relationships with employees.

Keep your mouth zipped. You weren’t hired to advise management as to how to have effective relationships with people, motivate their workforce, and improve their performance. Never speak up to senior leadership about changes you think need to be implemented.

Stay in your office all day. Never socialise with employees. Show no interest in their careers, development, or comfort in the office.

What mistakes have you made in your career, and how have you overcome them?


  • by Govind 8/04/2013 4:54:58 PM

    I fully agree to the view above. Although you have mentioned it in short (more elaboration was needed) but you have given enough hints.
    HR professionals need to think that they are not the police department in current business phase.
    In my HR career I have seen different business environment and culture, sometime completely opposite to each other. HR need to think next step and think beyond the traditional way it is managed.

  • by Gerardine Rudolophy 9/04/2013 3:45:12 PM

    Short and to the point.

    I would add a metaphor that Lois Frankel used to talk about gender differences.

    She drew a football field - marking the lines. Men, she indicated, played right up to the touch line, women tended to play in a small area around the centre, worrying about going too close to finding themselves outside the playing field.

    I described this to an L&D professional colleague recently; they added a saddening comment. They saw their HR department as spectators who had taken up camp in the centre of the playing field and were now interrupting the flow of the game.

    This is harsh and not at all true of many HR practitioners. However, your post reminded me of this conversation.

    That aside; I think we may have done a bit too much finger pointing and 'HR bashing' about our shortcomings. There has to be another way to support the development and growth of HR.

    For me, this is why I have professional membership of AHRI and ensure I keep my continuous professional development activities up to date. Frustrating as it is, I can't change others...!

  • by Salahudein Ibrahim 9/04/2013 3:49:54 PM

    You are absolutely wright,when HR goes back to ice age everything will spoil,which will reflected in business performance and leads to misinterpretation of HR role and practice.

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