5 Things HR Pros Say I’d Give Money To Never, Ever Hear Again

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Are these simply pet peeves or hindrances to the growth of the profession? You decide.

HR is everyone’s business

Well, sure. In the same sense that finance is “everyone’s business” because all employees should be fiscally responsible with company assets, and marketing is “everyone’s business” because all employees should favorably represent the company then, OK.

But doing HR right requires specialized knowledge and skills, as well as innate gifts, in my opinion, so let’s not give the impression that everyone and his Grandma could do this job.

There are already enough people who think that way (including a few stubbornly incompetent HR folks — that’s right, I said it). We don’t need to add fuel to the fire.

Anything with the words “rock star

Help me Lord, please. Mick Jagger is a rock star. Bruce Springsteen is a rock star. Jimmy Hendrix was a rock star. Fine — even Justin Bieber might be called a rock star.

But all others should take a step back. Rock stars have legions of screaming fans, and men and women throw underwear at them and write them crazy letters proposing marriage and stuff.

I’m all for showing appreciation of an individuals groovy gifts, especially when applied to significant effort, but let’s stop watering down our language with this hyperbole, OK? (And kind of making ourselves look silly in the process.) Brendan Vaughan over at GQ magazine knows what I’m talking about.

Anything with the words “seat at the table

It’s confession time, and yes, I’ve been known to say these words, but that doesn’t make it right.

This phrase has become so overused, and discussion of HR’s faults has become so common, “I want a seat at the table” is now sadly perceived as more a mantra for the whiny than a rallying cry.

So, let’s just drop it. And, cheer up. Some of the organizations we’ve been imploring are so dysfunctional they don’t even have a table. They’re making decisions on the fly doing the same thing today that didn’t work yesterday, and they certainly aren’t healthy enough to stop, reflect, redirect, and listen to reason from us.

So maybe we should stop looking to them for validation and focus on building each other up while quietly doing the best job possible until we can find an employer who’ll respond to our request to “sit at the table” with a quizzical expression that says “Of course we want you involved in decision making. That’s why we hired you.”

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Anything with the words “strategic HR

Good HR people do things purposefully and always with a reason and an end goal in mind.

It’s almost second nature. We don’t have to keep labeling it, as though it’s a special brand of HR.

All areas of HR — even administration — needs to be done strategically to add the most value. So how about we just go ahead and decide that the term “strategic HR” is redundant? I’d like that.

When I protect employer interests, I’m protecting employee interests, too

Hmmm … This statement most often is made in response to the whole employee/employer advocate question that HR folks get asked, and I don’t find it to be a very satisfying response.

The “trickle down theory of HR” is far from proven, and surprise(!) employees generally don’t like being viewed as a means to an end.

So there you have it. My list of things I just wish we’d stop saying, already. What do you think?

Crystal Spraggins, SPHR, is an HR consultant and freelance writer who lives in Philadelphia. She also writes at her blog, HR BlogVOCATE. For the past 15 years, Crystal has focused on building HR departments in small- to mid-sized companies under the philosophy that "HR is not for wimps." She is also the CEO and Founder of Work It Out! and partners with HRCVision, a full-service HR consultant practice specializing in leadership and diversity training. Contact her at crs036@aim.com.


20 Comments on “5 Things HR Pros Say I’d Give Money To Never, Ever Hear Again

  1. This list is right on. I’d add, though, to the “seat at the table” nonsense that if you don’t have a seat at the table after the decades or longer our industry has complained about not having said seat, that maybe it has more to do with you than the profession.

    1. Hi Matt and thanks. Of course, I can’t disagree with you that some HR practitioners haven’t made a very good case for their own inclusion. At the same time, our profession really DOES have some issues overall. Last week Laurie gave some advice to SHRM https://staging.tlnt.com/2013/06/04/my-advice-to-shrm-start-blowing-stuff-up-and-find-more-hr-execs/
      that included dumping the inferiority complex about our career choice. That’s a problem right there. It’s cliche but true–you can’t expect others to respect you when you don’t respect yourself.

    1. You keep beating this dead horse, Bruno. It’s not going viral. First of all, nobody knows what the hell the SHRM Foundation is . . . . and nobody in HR has $100.

      I think you should write a blog post about what EXACTLY the SHRM Foundation is and why it’s worthy of $100. Ask John Hollon to publish this!

        1. I read the article Matthew, and I liked it, but yeah … I’m not giving the SHRM Foundation $100 bucks no matter what. Ain’t gonna happen.

          1. Ha. Not sure. Perhaps the truncation screwed them up. I’ve bit.ly’ed then to make them shorter. They seem to work now.

  2. I just hope that a candidate is not judged or turned away just because they said a over used or redundant comment. I truly hope we as HR people know enough to look passed it and choose due to their skills or experience.

    1. Hi Jt. I think most of us do. If a candidate spoke to one of my pet peeves, I’d ask (for example), “What does ‘seat at the table’ mean to you?” THEN I’d start forming an opinion.

  3. “If people don’t want to work for you, no one’s going to stop them.” – paraphrased from Yogi Berra. So, you need to show them a reason to want to. And if your company has a habit of cutting low-level employees when there’s a cash crunch instead of reducing the salaries of executives who are making high six figures and seven figures and above, or having layoffs even when you’re profitable and doing well, you show that, notwithstanding your claim that “employees are our most important resource,” your actions show you care more about money, employees be damned.

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