7 Reasons HR Managers Don?t Get the Respect They Should

Playful businessman aiming paper airplane at serious co-worker

I think it’s safe to say that in your career as an HR professional, you’ve occasionally had issues with some of your employees. A lot of times it’s their fault. They get mad at you for getting mad at them for catching them pretending to be sick, or they call you names when you politely inform them that they can’t actually wear cut-off jean shorts to work. So many employees do so many silly things, in fact, that it would be easy to blame them for any problems that arise.

But I’ve had a couple guy friends try and blame their girlfriends for everything that’s gone wrong in their relationships, and you might be surprised to know that it doesn’t usually work out that well. More often than not, both people deserve some of the responsibility for whatever’s going wrong.

Which means that if you’re not getting the respect that you think you deserve, there might be some legitimate reasons for it. I suppose it’s possible, for example, that you are a truly contemptible person. However, on the off-chance that you aren’t a puppy-kicking tyrant, here are 7 things you might want to consider.

You Are Too Nice

If this describes you, then you will do whatever it takes to avoid anything that even remotely resembles a confrontation. When you try to talk with a chronically late employee about their unacceptable behavior, you end the conversation by telling them it isn’t that big a deal and that you’re sorry for bringing it up in the first place. If you are always nice and forgiving, they will learn that they don’t have to worry about anything that bothers you. Except it does bother you, doesn’t it?  But you’re too nice to say anything, so you’ll just quietly seethe until you rupture a blood vessel that everyone will chalk up to your bad diet.

You Are Way Too Mean

The occasional reprimand is a normal part of our interactions with every single person we spend any significant amount of time with. The constant railing of an impossible-to-please demon lord, on the other hand, is a bit excessive. Sure, people might do what you want them to just to avoid getting yelled at, but they won’t be happy about it. If your problem is that the other HR members of your team are productive but not enthusiastic about being so, then you might be shouting more often than is healthy. Try saving your hour-long tirades for your home improvement projects instead. Nobody will fault you for shouting at grout when it DOESN’T WANT TO STAY IN THE STUPID CRACKS!!!!!

You Have No Actual Deadlines

Some issues need to be dealt with today. Some need to be addressed by the end of the week. And some just need to be dealt with, you know, whenever you can get around to it, if it’s not too much trouble. The truth is that a lot of our deadlines are arbitrary. Do you absolutely have to complete new hire compliance training by the end of the week?  Probably not; you could wait until next week and it wouldn’t destroy your company. But if you don’t impose some artificial urgency from time to time, then no one will worry too much about getting anything accomplished.

You Don’t Think You Deserve to Be A Leader

I remember the first time someone called me a “man,” instead of a “boy” or “teenager,” and it didn’t sound like a word that should be applied to me. And the same thing occasionally happens when we’re placed in a position of leadership. This is true of everyone, not just HR professionals. It’s very common to wonder if you deserve the authority you’ve been granted, but you’d better start telling yourself that you actually have earned it. Because if you don’t think you should be in charge, nobody else will either.

You Change Your Mind All the Time

Many people – especially overly nice ones who don’t think they deserve to tell anyone else what to do – find themselves asking for certain things and then changing the requirements when they see people struggling. The impulse here is very noble, but the outcome isn’t. Employees need to be pushed, at least a little. A good HR professional is like a good personal trainer, someone who forces his or her clients (in your case, your employees and leadership) past the point they thought they could get to on their own. If you continually change the goals that your people are trying to achieve, it is going to be hard for them to pay a lot of attention to whatever you tell them to do next, since it’ll probably change next week anyway.

You’re Afraid to Admit Mistakes

I know you’ve occasionally tried to put your pants on backwards, and I know you’ve walked into glass doors before. But if you pretend that you’ve never done anything wrong, you’ll lose the respect of everyone. Failure is only failure when you don’t learn anything from it, and you can’t learn anything when you pretend that you never actually failed.

You Think You Know More Than You Do

If you are not in the habit of learning all the time, and if you are also in the habit of assuming that there’s not much left for you to learn, then the people you work with are almost certainly in the habit of thinking that you’re full of yourself and therefore unworthy of their admiration.

I hope that helps. Now get out there and earn your employees’ respect! Looking for ways to find out if it’s working? Make sure you’re reading your Glassdoor reviews and responding to them too! Check out How to Manage Reviews on Glassdoor.

RELATED POST: 5 Habits of Successful HR Pros

Author:  Jeff Havens

Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer

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