In one of the training workshops in my previous organisation, an experienced HRBP (HR Business Partner) shared her concern with me. She found it extremely tough to work with one of her business stakeholders. The stakeholder; according to her, was extremely toxic in his language and was blunt about his grudge against HR. Since most of her HR work required prior alignment with the business, she had to go through the ordeal on a daily basis. She admitted that it is impacting her emotional well being and engagement at work.
“Indeed, HR is a tough job. You have to deal with the emotions of the employees all the time. Employees approach HR complaining about the biases they experience, unmet aspirations at the workplace“
They expect HR to intervene and restore fairness. Although the people processes are designed to minimize the individual biases and promote fairness & objectivity, it takes quite a bit of effort to ensure the same.
This is because there is a human mind implementing these processes. Managers are at varying levels of maturity, self-awareness, and motivation. Their motives, pre-conceived notions, cultural & educational background, past experiences have an impact on the people decisions they take on a daily basis. Sometimes, certain people managers abdicate tough people decisions (typical one- I gave you a good performance rating but it got modified by the head office) – creating challenges for HR. Given the organisational role, HR is tasked with implementing the processes through the line managers.
It can leave the HR professionals exhausted and disheartened. But there is no escape. Like any other occupation, emotional outbursts and biases are the occupational hazards that HR professionals have to deal with effectively. Just like the business leaders have to cope up with the VUCA business environment,
HR has to deal with BIME at the workplace – BIME stands for Biases, Irrationality, Motives, and Emotions.
So how does one cope up with BIME Workplace
1- Get Over Your Own Emotions
When employees are irrational, then basically anything they do or say is not personal. At times, these are suppressed emotions getting expressed in undesirable manner and what they say is not meant for you as a person. It can be challenging to stay patient, but allowing the other person pour out and then calm him / her down can give you opportunity to hold a logical conversation.
Sometimes, employees come and share their frustrations, grievances with you. Unconsciously, you end up processing it in your mind and carry the emotional baggage with you.
Ensure that you leave the conversations and issues at the workplace behind when you leave for home. Bringing workplace issues home will impact your health and personal life.
2- Build Resilience
In professions such as quality, safety, HR, audit, the incumbent is entrusted with espousing and upholding the organisation values. While doing that, there could be resistance, cynicism when you hold on tightly to certain beliefs (in this case, organisation values & principles). So, in such roles, one should expect some resistance and cynicism rather than getting upset with it.
Sometimes, HR professionals are idealistic in their expectations, and then get disillusioned when they see line managers not following HR processes in letter and spirit. Acknowledging that everyone in the journey of becoming a better professional will help us approach HR work more realistically.
Apart from this, enrolling your leaders in cascading the organisation values and sponsoring your initiatives, identifying & amplifying supporting voices can help you tide over the resistance.
3- Make the Managers Self-Aware and Accountable
The people’s agenda is co-owned by the line manager & HR. Progressive organisations hold managers accountable for their team morale and productivity, like any other business metric. HR’s job is to coach & equip the manager in doing this.
At times, HRBP ends up taking all that on own ’s shoulder (team morale, retention improvement, capability building) thinking that that is how the job is expected to be done. In one case, I have seen an HRBP personally coordinating and scheduling the performance conversation between the manager & subordinate.
Hence, it is important to draw a line and make the manager accountable for the people’s goals and drive actions towards achieving it. Improving the self-awareness of the managers around their styles as well as blind spots goes a long way in them taking ownership of the development.
Finally, Like the doctor who needs to be fit to improve the wellness around, the HR professional should be stay positive and passionate to impact the workplace around.