"The worst part about this company is that HR won’t listen to me. They don’t really care about me as an employee. I cannot talk to them about my problems and frustrations." A friend complained to me about a Fortune-500 company he has worked for seven years.
I told him that he didn’t really understand the role of HR in an organization.
The three most important goals for HR are
- Make sure that the organization doesn’t violate any employment related laws — I.e. not getting sued
- Execute the typical HR tasks such as compensation, enforcing company policy, promotion, etc. in support of senior management’s goals.
- Hire more people when company needs them; get rid of problematic employees without getting sued.
You might say that this is a cynical view of HR. It’s NOT. In fact, I have tremendous respect for the hard-working HR professionals. They fill a very important organization need. But, their incentives and goals are to support senior management, not to support employees.
It’s true that in every company’s new employee orientation, you will hear "if you have any issues, come to talk to us at HR. We’re here to help". The reality is that HR professions exists to support senior management. HR professionals are not career counselor, personal coach, or psychologist. Their priority is to make sure the company doesn’t get sued, the senior management’s policy and strategies gets carried out, and hire and fire people to meet company staffing needs. HR’s priorities are almost never aligned with employees’ priorities.
I told my friend to get a copy of Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know—and What to Do About Them. This book is written by Cynthia Shapiro, a seasoned senior HR executive who is now working as a consultant to employees. It was eye-opening for me to hear the real story about HR from her perspective. It’s VERY DIFFERENT from what you have been told. In fact, I think this book should be made a "must read" for everyone who is working in the corporate world.