Crimes Against the HR Department

This is an old blog post. I took it down a while back, as it ended up on Facebook, and got a lot of comments from people who, shall we say, weren’t too keen on HR, which wasn’t really the point, it was just a bit of fun. But people keep asking me where it went, so here it is again, in all its glory.


Sometimes HR gets a fair bit of stick. We are called ‘Human Remains’, and get the blame for everything from the annual pay rise to a decision to the latest restructure. There is however one thing in HR frustrates more than most. It’s that line manager who thinks that somewhere in my desk drawer, underneath the policy manual, employment law books and my spare pair of tights, is a magic wand. You know the wand I mean; the one that I wave around, magically sorting out the tricky employee issues, without that manager having to too much at all.

Well I’m sorry folks, but I’m not Mavis Cruet. (Readers younger than 30 may find a Google search of this term helpful).

So just for fun, here are my top ten line manager crimes against the HR team.

1. The Line Manager with the major, long term capability issue with an individual in your team. Only you just haven’t mentioned it to them in any of their appraisals or 121s, but it’s now urgent. Can HR sort it, like, today?
2. The Line Manager who has someone in their team with a body odour problem. And they think it is better that the nice lady HR tells them about this, rather than them. You know, their actual line manager, someone they know, rather than someone in HR that they don’t. Making it much more formal for them, but easier for the manager.
3. The Line Manager who wants to make someone in the team redundant. Only they want to replace them too. Because this is easier than dealing with the real issue (see point one).
4. The Line Manager with a hiring requirement. They know the right person for the job, so they don’t want to go through any sort of recruitment process malarkey. And then when they turn out to be not so good after all, they want HR to deal with it.
5. The Line Manager who wants to do something risky. They get the advice but decide to go ahead anyway. It all goes a bit Pete Tong and then miraculously forget our conversation.
6. The Line Manager who wants HR to ‘make an employment tribunal claim go away’. Yes, because the ET system works like that. I just ring up the Judge, have a chat and then Bingo! No legal costs.
7. The Line Manager with a team member who something wrong (Uploads some Facebook pictures in work time, takes a smoke break too many, take your pick) so rather than deal with the individual problem, they want a blanket ban company wide, on whatever it is. Because that is a much better way of dealing with things.
8. The Line Manager who give a recruitment agency that we don’t have any terms with the details of all their vacancies, and then moans at HR when the process breaks down and they try and charge 25% after the fact. Just because they agency tells you that they are really good and have loads of suitable candidates for the vacancy.
9. The Line Manager who thinks that HR extends to managing expenses (please see Finance), the coffee machine (that will be the Facilities Manager), updating the intranet (IT) or car parking arrangements (anybody, please).
10. The Line Manager who thinks employment law is ridiculous and wants me to find a way round it. Without spending any money, or presenting the business with any risk.

Ahhh. That feels so much better.

So what was the point of this blog post / rant? Only this: your HR department can only do so much. You have to work with them, over the long term. We are there to advise you, support you, provide the tools, coach you, and generally help you achieve your strategic goals. We don’t do magic wands, sadly.

We are only human (resources).

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