BY SUZANNE LUCAS
HR loves people — just not all people.
People generally go into Human Resources because they like people. After a few years of dealing with these humans, HR people can become cynical. You would too if you had to deal with these types below. If you see yourself in one, stop it.
1. Special snowflakes.
These employees feel like they aren’t subject to any of the rules. Showing up on time? Forget it. Always on his phone? You bet. The worst thing about special snowflakes isn’t the snowflakes themselves, but that their bosses allow the bad behavior to continue. HR can’t fire people directly (generally), they can only recommend it. It’s up to the manager to make the final decision. And managers who fall into this special snowflake category? You’re the reason we have so many lawsuits.
2. The ambitious-yet-incompetent ladder climber.
We’re thrilled with hard workers who want to climb the ladder of success. Heck, we develop special programs for these people. What we hate are people who aren’t good at their jobs yet still think they should be climbing up, up, up. No amount of explaining that they need to succeed in their current position before they can be promoted seems to affect these people.
Yes, if you’re being sexually harassed, please tell us. Right away. If you observe illegal behavior of any kind, we’ll make time to meet with you. If your co-worker comes in late? We don’t care. If your boss takes two-hour lunches, just be glad you’re not being micromanaged during those two hours. Let managers manage their own people. If your co-worker coming in late is a problem, your manager will handle it, or she’ll come to HR.
4. The no-boundaries employee (Type 1, TMI).
We know everything about this employee. From their toenail fungus to their marital issues, we know it all. We don’t need to know any of it. Yes, if you need time off to deal with medical or personal issues, we’ll help you with the paperwork, but we’re not nurses or social workers. And please don’t explain to me that your real problem is that you’ve never really liked sex. (Yes, this is a true story.)
5. The no-boundaries employee (Type 2, Always calling).
It’s 11 p.m. on a Friday, and this employee calls. Many people don’t have separate office/cell phones anymore, so it doesn’t just go to an office voicemail. Phone calls from these employees are never emergencies. Although, if your voicemail system allows you to flag a question about 401(k) loans as urgent, this person will do that. Always.
6. The HR hater.
Yep, I totally know that lots of people hate HR. Heck, that’s why I call myself the Evil HR Lady. But most HR people do a good job at what we are supposed to do. It’s not our fault you got a small raise — your boss chose that raise based on the budget that finance gave to her. We’re not trying to cause death by paperwork — the federal government can be blamed for that. Stop telling us how much you hate us and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to get whatever it is done and move on.
7. The drama queen.
Or king (this is not limited by gender). This person takes every small correction from a boss as a sign that he’s about to be fired. A co-worker sneezes in his direction and the co-worker is purposely trying to bring the plague into the office. Someone taking up two parking spaces did it not because of bad parking skills, but to make this employee walk a longer way. Please, leave the drama at home.
8. The that’s-not-my-job employee.
Yes, it’s true that some union contracts specifically spell out what you can and cannot do. Fine. Stick to that. But if you’re not under such a contract, remember that “other duties as required” part of the job description? That’s what this means. Yes, that means you have to help Jane out on her quarter-end reports, and it can even mean that when some kid throws up in the lobby, you can be asked to clean it up. There are times when you can use, “I’m doing many things that aren’t my job. Can we re-evaluate my position to make sure I’m focusing on my core job?” but little one-offs? Just do them.
9. The threat-maker.
“If you don’t give me a raise, I’m going to quit.” “If you don’t change my performance rating, I’m calling my lawyer.” Please quit. It will save us many headaches. And that performance rating? In a reputable company, that rating has been checked and double-checked and it’s accurate. Go ahead and call your lawyer. (Side note: Don’t call your brother-in-law the defense attorney. You need an employment lawyer.) Yes, you can ask for a raise, and you can protest your performance review, but no threats.
10. The unbelieving employee.
This has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with listening. The boss creates a formal performance-improvement plan, signed off by HR and your boss’s boss, yet when the goals aren’t reached this employee is shocked (shocked!) that she’s being fired. This employee is always knocking on HR’s door to complain that a boss followed through and gave a consequence for repeated bad behavior. “Jane said if I came in late one more time, she’d take me off the schedule for a week!” HR response: “And did you come in late?” “Yes, but… ” “Yes, but… ” is the favorite phrase of the unbeliever.
Any other types of employees you would like to see hit the road?