• Tania Caza

If you are in HR - Do you Know HOW to HR?


How many of these situations do you resonate with?


  • Manager wants to terminate an employee who has not had a performance conversation and who received a full merit increase last round with a Meets Expectation review

  • Employee launches a complaint against their manager for “fill in the blank” (favourtism, sexual harassment, bullying, etc)

  • Employee is caught “fill in the blank” (sleeping on the job, stealing time, showing up to work under the influence of alcohol/drugs, etc)

  • The best candidate you were recruiting has just accepted another offer

  • Oh, and there has been a covid outbreak!


This is scratching the surface of the types of issues HR could face on any given day. In this list alone, the role of HR is: first aider, investigator, terminator, negotiator, facilitator, communicator, legal representative, conflict resolver, therapist, brand ambassador, case manager, and many of these situations are highly emotional, requiring HR to temper the emotions.


And most people in HR did not learn “how” to handle any of these situations. Beyond basic foundational theory, I have yet to find great training on how to facilitate a conversation between two people screaming at each other.


I had to learn on my own, with the help of mentors and leaders. The trial-and-error route seems risky to me now. I have had to on more than one occasion put my physical body between two people that were arguing. Not wise, but I also didn’t know any better.


20+ years later, I know there is a better approach. Questions like the ones below can help with a thinking process.


Ask yourself these questions next time you are in a situation and not sure what to do:


1) Am I safe? Your physical and mental safety is the priority, above all else. If it is unsafe, find the courage to speak up, end a meeting, walk away, get help. Just get to safety, full stop.


2) Who OWNs of the problem? Often, HR takes on problems that are not their problems. Consider who is accountable for the result. More times than not, it is the leader of the employee. It’s easy for them to abdicate responsibility when HR eagerly takes it on. Instead, ask yourself how you can best support the leader: Is this a coaching moment, a teaching moment, or a mentoring moment? (I’ll have another post on this later!) Yes, show empathy and compassion, but that is far different than taking it on yourself.


3) Is this problem outside of your expertise? Know your strengths and the line of professionalism. Sometimes issues require a different professional to support – lawyer, therapist, physician, consultant, etc. Recognize that a referral can be the best support you can give.


4) Ask for help. Get a trusted group of peers together and run the problem by them. There is power in the wisdom of the group.


What else would you add to this list?


HR is most definitely an incredibly rewarding career. It is also tough and even more so without the right training and skill set.



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