Taking an HR Selfie

Posted on Jul 10, 2015 in HR,Latest Articles . 0 Comments.

If HR took a selfie of itself during workplace conflict what would it look like? Would we see one thing but everyone else see something completely different?

Recently we ran a Better Conflict Workshop for HR professionals where we asked practitioners to consider the role of HR during conflict. Responses included that HR’s role was to: “provide options”, “coach managers”, “support employees”, “advise on potential risk” and “empower utilisation of processes and policy”.

Now here is where it got interesting. When asked what HR thought the business expected of them during conflict, they responded: “to solve it”, “to manage it until resolved”, “drive the process”, “protect manager and the business from legal repercussions” and “maintain a process that can be applied”.

In different businesses, in the same business but in different teams, there are differing views on HR’s role. Some feel HR is not responsible for relationship management, others feel that’s what HR is all about.

Are you aligned on purpose?

HR and the business see the role of Human Resources during conflict differently which means that as HR we have both an image and an expectation issue. This disconnect is just one factor which exacerbates many workplace conflicts. If there is confusion about HR’s role how can we meet the expectations of our stakeholders: employees, managers, our manager and the business in general? Surely we set ourselves up as disappointing on all fronts.

Clear expectations prevent problems

Our advice is that HR should manage expectations by defining its role upfront in a conflict, and then, if necessary redefine its role during escalating or decreasing workplace tensions. HR’s role may also be different in different conflicts within the same workplace, so it should be defined clearly and separately on each occasion.  One thing we know for certain, HR’s role is not to be “priest, police officer or psychologist.”  See our blog “no more bloody HR” for some more ideas on how HR can add value.

How are you currently managing this difference in perception? How do you manage stakeholder expectations in your organisation? How does your HR team measure its success? Need some support with positioning HR. Please get in touch.

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