Usually, on Wednesdays, my post is about something written by another blogger. However, I am switching things up again this week and keeping with the Lazy HR theme …
My first job as HR Administrator was a tough one. The company was small and there wasn’t much turnover. Occasionally, the company would do some reorganizing that would create a new opening somewhere. Those positions were usually filled from within and new people were hired to back-fill.
The decision on whether to post a position internally was left 100% to the hiring manager. This was a foreign concept for me coming from the recruiting/staffing world where so many people had input on hiring and my only experience as an administrator coming from a book. The company took a chance hiring me and I wasn’t trying to rock the boat too much. However, I knew leaving the decision solely to the hiring manager in a place where people worked together closely for a long time was a recipe for disaster.
Calvin proved me right.
Calvin was a laborer in the mill. He’d been there about 2 years and he was ready to move into a position with more responsibility. He’d told everyone with ears that he wanted the chance to do more — and that if he couldn’t move up, he would move on. He was obnoxious about it, either. He was just being honest about his desire to develop. There were people who didn’t take too kindly to Calvin’s outspoken nature though. He didn’t have many work-friends that I ever saw. He worked alone, he ate lunch alone and he took breaks alone.
A position opened up in the Procurement. The manager came to me to ask me to place an ad so he could begin reviewing candidates as soon as possible. I asked if he wanted me to do an internal posting.
“Nah, don’t bother,” he said. “No one’s interested.”
I paused, thinking about Calvin. I asked the manager if he was sure he didn’t want it posted. Just because he didn’t know anyone who was interested didn’t mean there wasn’t anyone — right??
He was stern and serious when he said, “I’m sure. No one’s interested. Just run the ad.”
I shared my concerns with my manager. She told me that I should just run the ad and not question the hiring managers. She said my time at work would be easier if I just learned to go with the flow and let the managers figure these things out on their own.
So I ran the ad. And we hired some outsider about 3 weeks later. And Calvin resigned about 2 months after that. During his exit interview, he cited being passed over for the job in procurement as the straw that broke the camel’s back for him. He said, when that happened, he knew the management didn’t value him and weren’t interested in his development so he find someplace else.
I felt terrible. First, because I knew he was right. For whatever reason, they didn’t value Calvin. There was nothing in his performance evaluations to indicate there was any real problem with his work. They were put off by his ambition and his enthusiasm. In organization’s where there isn’t a lot of turnover, I knew that wasn’t unusual — people who challenge the status quo are often met with rejection. I was experiencing that a little bit myself in my role at the time so I could relate.
But mostly I felt terrible for not doing more to prevent this from happening. I knew it was a bad decision and bad HR practice not to post every internal opening every time. It left our hiring practices open to interpretation that would be hard to withstand legal scrutiny and would negatively impact morale.
I was lazy HR! Or at least on the path to becoming lazy HR. I wasn’t comfortable just going with the flow and allowing managers to learn HR lessons the hard way.
I’m still not. When something is going on that exposes the company to liability and/or negatively impacts the quality of the work environment, HR has a duty to take action to prevent it. If the status quo gets disturbed or an ego gets bruised along the way — well, so be it. HR is not there to take the easy or lazy way out. We set the standard for best practice — and we should always set it high!