Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Is HR Diplomacy Driving Away Top-Performers?

You must have noticed that most times when you direct a question to a HR professional (across hierarchy), you get a ‘vague’ reply/answer; an answer that needs your best grey-cells to be stretched to comprehend and decipher the coded language. The answer leaves you feeling even more doubtful. An alternate word for the situation is also called ‘Interpretation’. The very reason that problems get escalated and even complicated.

This leads us to ask the question aloud: Is HR Diplomacy Driving Away Top-Performers?

Wondering what’s happening? For the records, this IS a ‘HR Blog’ and YES! I’m a HR professional too. So you feel I’m betraying my clan by voicing an opinion. Not really. I’ve heard employees complain about the lack of clarity in answers that would have left even me really frustrated, angry, and helpless. So why does it happen? Why do HR folks get ‘Diplomacy’ ingrained into their DNA? Avoiding conflict could be a primary reason. Another could be to keep appearances, often by sugarcoating bad news. Often I wonder if that’s the reason HR has so much opposition and that seat-at-the-table jig doesn’t weigh a lot. The more we beat around the bush while answering questions, the farther we are driving away employees from the HR Room.

Especially in today’s market condition, HR plays a key role in maintaining transparency and fairness in actions that are taken. It gives the company better chances of retaining top-performers. They are the ones who will help the company to succeed in a bad market or otherwise. HR diplomacy should not be the very reason that employees use, to update their resumes and be the first ones out when the market returns to a healthy state. After all, no one wants to work for a company that guards everything like state-secret.

Actions like cost-cutting is a necessity in times of recession, you don’t need to show diplomacy when you tell that to the employees. They are aware it is needed; all they want to know is how it will affect day-to-day activities. Don’t leave it to their imagination to figure it out! That’s like asking them to dive into deep waters without the necessary gear. The repercussion of bad HR interactions are felt when you are left without your product architects. The reason for diplomacy could also be the fear of ‘telling more than necessary’ and eventually getting trapped in your own words. If you can’t discuss a certain topic, make it clear. You don’t need to say a thousand words to avoid the topic that will only further aggravate the hostile situation. On the contrary, you need to show diplomacy when you handle overly sensitive situations. Use discretion.

Employers that have a sensible HR team will survive the tough times, along with a set of top performers who will make the BIG difference.

You see ‘discretion’ is not just a word in the HR world, it’s a survival tool! The quicker you learn it - the better you will be valued by the employees.

- The HR Store