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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Make Sure You Take All Your Problems to HR

As you might have guessed, I read advice columns. Dear Abby, Ann Landers, Ask Amy, etc. Lately everything has been, "go to HR." Okay, I'm exaggerating. Just two days in a row in Ask Amy.

Recently Amy dealt with a boss who took papers into the bathroom with him at work. Ick. I don't recall Amy's response, but she got this letter back:
Your reply to "Grossed Out," whose boss took client documents into the bathroom with him, was off base. Making light of what he's doing will either annoy him or will be lost on him, as he is already unaware of proper office bathroom etiquette.

Grossed Out should bring the situation to HR. They are trained to handle these types of matters.

Today, the issue was a scantily clad co-worker, and Amy's advice:
His next move should be to call in an HR professional to mediate this issue to everyone's satisfaction.

I must have called in sick on the day we had the secret HR Seminar titled: "Bathrooms and Inappropriate Dress: What Every HR Person Must Know!" (Truth be told, that sounds kind of like an article title for one of those ghastly magazines you see in the checkout line at the grocery store.)

Here's the problem in both of these situations--no one wants to be the adult. The bathroom thing is an oh, ick, situation. If your boss does this and then tries to hand you the papers say, "Steve, it really grosses me out when you take papers into the bathroom with you. Please don't do it any more."

But, but, but, he's my boss and he'll fire me! See, that's the adult problem coming into play again because if Steve were an adult he'd say, "Oh, I'm sorry. I never thought about it." And he wouldn't do it again.

With the scantily clad woman, the boss should have addressed her lack of judgment in clothing a long, long, time ago. Like when she was first hired. And bosses shouldn't force people to take other people to lunch with them. This is not second grade. (And co-workers should not exclude people from such gatherings either--this is not Junior High.)

But no one wants to say anything to see-through dress lady. "Jennifer, your clothing is inappropriate for the office. Here's a copy of the dress code. Please stick to it. If you have questions, look at what the other women in the office are wearing."

Now, I have no real objection to HR being brought into these problems. We're here to help. Really. Truly. But, can we please help grown ups?


Mike Doughty said...

Here's the larger problem......These people think they ARE acting like grownups by referring everything to HR. This is what our PC, non-confrontational-to-a-fault, can't-we-all-just-get-along, let's-hold-hands-and-sing society has produced. This isn't going to change any time soon.

tabitharuth said...

Ghastly is a great word! I wonder if I can use it in a sentence today.

Evil HR Lady said...

Mike--Point taken. We wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings!

TabithaRuth--I agree.

Just another HR lady... said...

My first response when these kinds of queries are brought to me is ALWAYS "did you try speaking to the person about what is bothering you?" If the answer is no, I ask them to do that, and offer hints on how to approach the topic if needed (because as previously mentioned most are not acting like adults!), and then I tell them to come back to me if the issue is unresolved. 9 times out of 10, they come back and tell me they were able to work it out.

And how are we doing today children? lol!

Robert said...

These types of issues are often referred to HR because those closet to the problem "can't walk and chew gum at the same time" with respect to dealing with it effectively. Usually, but not always, HR will help to ensure that it's handled properly. Last, but not least, many folks don't have the courage to confront, but HR does.

robert edward cenek
Cenek Report

HR Wench said...

I love confrontation. I eat it for breakfast.

The only thing I like more than confrontation is open hostility. :)

Wally Bock said...

I agree with what Mike said. Somewhere along the way in the last decade, it became OK for bosses to dump uncomfortable parts of the job on HR, since they're "trained to do this." Most behavior and performance issues should be handled by the boss, not by calling in the cavalry.

Herman Zinkler said...

I'm with Evil HR Lady. Pas it back to them and get the to resolve it. 9 times out of 10 it's sorted.

I keep reminding myself and my team we are here to support, not do ... unless we absolutely have to! (i.e. legal issues pending)