Tim Sackett’s HR 101: The 10 Mistakes You Never Want to Make in HR

I thought it was time that I randomly start listing mistakes we make in human resources and letting those coming into HR know what not to do.

So, here you go, enjoy!

These are the 10 mistakes you don’t want to ever make in HR:

Article Continues Below
  1. Hiring someone who reschedules their drug test more than once. I’m willing to give someone one reschedule, because stuff happens. After one, you’ve got a druggie trying to find out how to keep his Mom’s pee warm long enough to make it to the testing center.
  2. Creating a leadership training program when it’s really one bad leader who just needs to be canned. Everyone knows who the problem is, and now “HR” is making everyone go through training one person needs. They hate us for this. Just shoot the one bad leader and move on.
  3. Changing policy or making a new policy, when it’s really one idiot who is taking advantage of the current situation. See No. 2 above. We do this because *93 percent of HR Pros and Leaders are conflict avoidant (*Sackett Stats, it’s probably higher!). Come join the 7 percent of us who aren’t; this side of the pool is really enjoyable!
  4. Designing health benefits that are better for you, but worse for everyone else. Don’t tell me this doesn’t happen! It happens all the time. The person in charge of plan design sees something that will help them, and believes it will also help everyone else. Oh, look! We now can go see the chiropractor for massages, but I can’t get my kid the name brand asthma medicine he needs
  5. Talking about how much less money you make in HR, as compared to a bad performer in any other area. No one cares that you make $25K less than Mark in sales who is a buffoon. It just makes you look bad and petty.
  6. Throwing a fit about hiring an executive’s kid, or anyone else they want you to hire. Just hire the executive’s kid. This is not a battle you want to fight; it’s just not worth it. In the grand scheme of things, this one hire doesn’t mean a thing. The kid will either be good, average or bad — just like the rest of hires we make.
  7. Designing a compensation plan which, by peer group, puts you higher than other functions. I don’t care what the “Mercer” data says, you shouldn’t put out there that you should be making $15K more than the person in Finance at your same level. No one believes you, and they don’t trust you can handle this when the data doesn’t seem right. This is especially sticky for Compensation Pros, who always believe they should be paid more within the HR function.
  8. Thinking you can be “friends” with people you work with, outside of work. I’m not saying it can’t happen, because it might. It just becomes really bad when you have to walk into your BFF Jill’s office and “can” her one day. You can have very friendly relationships at work without inviting those folks over to the office for Girls Night Out.
  9. Believing it’s not your job to do something. In HR, we fill the void left by every other function. It’s our job to do everything, especially those things no one else wants to do. Never believe something is not your job! It is. Plus, that actually adds value to the organization. Be the one function that doesn’t bitch and complain when they need to do something that isn’t on their job description!
  10. Telling an executive they can’t do something because “we’ll get sued.” Our job in HR is not to tell executives, or anyone else, they can’t do something. It’s our job to tell them how they can get it done while making it less risky to the overall organization.

What mistakes do you see that HR makes?

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


5 Comments on “Tim Sackett’s HR 101: The 10 Mistakes You Never Want to Make in HR

  1. Good stuff Tim!

    The “It’s not my job” thing is something you never want to say or have anyone on your team say. Ever. Attitude is tough to fix, and this is a big red flag.

    1. Agreed Sean!

      Especially only a year into my HR career as an HR Admin, a lot of the small stuff that others don’t want to do trickles down to me. Sometimes when enough gets to be enough (and my actual job starts to not get done) I politely remind my manager that Task X actually really falls somewhere else and that while I would be happy to do it my own job isn’t getting done as effectively. No attitude here, and she’s usually happy to be the one to push back a bit when things get out of hand! 🙂

  2. Good article Tim, and good tips overall. I do have a different perspective on tip #9. Historically HR has picked up where everyone else has left off – but often times that leads to doing the jobs that managers should be doing. I’ve been guilty of that for almost all of my professional life in HR – and for many years that was great, But as HR moves away from being transactional, shifting more towards strategic partnership with our colleagues, we should resist the temptation to step in an rescue or to take undone matters into our own hands. Instead, we would better serve others, our organization and ourselves by resisting that impulse and instead focus on helping managers do their job better. In the end, we are still helping get things done!

    1. Maggie –

      Great point! I tend to try and show managers the importance of them doing these jobs from a leadership perspective angle…but, I would be more than willing to do this and take your development! 😉 I agree with you, I don’t want to enable lazy managers. But, if I have to do stuff they don’t want to do so they can be more effective, I’ll probably find ways to eliminate that work anyway. But, as you said, we have too many in HR that will take on the work as job justification and not discover ways to eliminate it.


Leave a Comment

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