Top Priorities for HR in 2020 - Closing the Talent Gap to Drive Digital Business Transformation

Why you should always tell HR

“Don’t tell HR” is a common phrase in business. But guess what? Your human resources manager is usually the first person you go to when something’s gone wrong, if something’s too late, or when you need something fixed.

So, why do we continue to say, “Don’t tell HR”? Is it HR’s issue, or is it our issue?

The truth is, it’s both. Our perception of what HR does and doesn’t do versus HR’s perception is very different.

HR should be an asset and value add to the business. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always do this, because by the time the business alerts HR to an issue and they get involved, it’s too late. There’s no solution, and HR doesn’t get the opportunity to work to its potential.

We’re not proactive with HR

Typically, a business only talks to HR when something has gone wrong. “We’ve just got a letter from Fair Work about an unfair dismissal, can you please fix it?” HR looks at you and says, “But this is the first I know about it. What happened?”

Silence. It’s a lose-lose situation.

But if we’d been proactive and talked to HR at the first hint of the issue, they would have been able to help us work through it.

So, what do we do? What’s the solution?

Think of HR as your business partner

My recommendation is to have weekly one-on-one meetings with your HR business partner. Talk about all areas of human resources to remove any perceived barriers you have. Discuss the data, your systems, processes, governance and compliance. Be open about any management issues and ask HR, “How can we improve our organisation? How can we boost our performance, productivity and profitability?”

HR should be a business partner. They should understand your business and how to get the best out of it. Make HR aware of your complex cases so they can advise you and find solutions.

For example: “There’s something wrong with this staff member, but I’m just not sure what it is.” HR can investigate the issue and manage the staff member up or out. The result will be improved productivity, performance and culture in your organisation.

How HR can change perceptions

HR managers should look at their own systems, processes and practices.

  • Is your training up to scratch?
  • Are your policies and practices easy for everyone in the business to understand?
  • Do you follow best practice?
  • Do you provide simple tools and solutions when issues arise?
  • Do you anticipate issues and take a proactive approach?
  • How do you value add to the business?

Remember, the business is busy being busy. HR needs to value add rather than be an overhead.

And to change negative perceptions, HR needs to develop relationships and build trust. This takes time. It also involves educating the business and working with teams and managers to get better outcomes.

Be open and honest

I encourage all business owners and leaders to have regular meetings with their HR contact person. Talk to them about your complex cases and issues. Explore ways to upskill your people to prevent problems arising. HR will find out about the business’s issues anyway, so bring them with you on your journey rather than telling them after something’s broken.

If your business needs improved HR systems, email me at

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