Yes, HR Is Never, Ever Allowed to Tell You “No”

123RF Stock Photo

As a leader, HR is never allowed to tell you “no.” That should feel good to read.

On the other hand, it’s not the purview of your local HR department to tell you “yes,” either.

  • HR is there to advise you.
  • HR is there to help you get stuff done.
  • HR can weigh in with an opinion.

It’s really your job — and not HR’s

But you and you alone are responsible for your decisions. You are a leader. You are in charge.

Mandatory sexual harassment training? Fair pay? Discriminating against gay people? Do what you want.

HR can tell you the rules — if there are any federal, state or local rules — but you get to make the final call.

Part of being the boss means that you are responsible for all aspects of your business. This includes everything from compensation to performance to recruiting.

For example, who told you it is HR’s job to find a replacement for someone who quits? Technically, that’s your job.

There’s a simple answer

While a recruiter can develop a candidate pool and help you meet qualified people, you and you alone know your business. You build redundancies into every other aspect of your business. You should know the next person you are going to hire without waiting for someone to quit.

Article Continues Below

And the same thing goes for every other aspect of human capital management. While I am happy to take a paycheck and work in HR, it’s really your job as a leader to do this work.

And in a world where everybody hates HR, the answer to the problem is really simple: If you hate HR so much, do it yourself.

You should be doing it, anyway.

You can find more from Laurie Ruettimann at her blog, The Cynical Girl, where this originally appeared.


Laurie Ruettimann (LFR) is a former Human Resources leader turned influential speaker, writer and strategist. She owns a human resources consultancy that offers a wide array of HR services to human resources leaders and executives. Check out her LinkedIn profile here. You may know Ruettimann as the creator of The Cynical Girl and Punk Rock HR (retired), which Forbes named as a top 100 website for women. You may have also read her book, I AM HR: 5 Strategic Ways to Break Stereotypes and Reclaim HR. (RepCap Press, 2014.) 


3 Comments on “Yes, HR Is Never, Ever Allowed to Tell You “No”

  1. Hello Laurie, Great article and funny. I would simply add via many of my HR clients that you can indeed influence behavior with a program approved by HR that recognizes and rewards. Certainly there is much misunderstanding that if you throw a trinket at an employee that will do nothing, but much behavior can be impacted when the employee team perceives they are a part of a community.

  2. Another great piece Laurie! Fortunately, we’ve moved past the era where personnel was only there to say “no”, to one where HR is here to offer opinions and suggestions to guide us in the right direction.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *