How to Deal With a Weak Human Resources Manager

When you have a human resources problem that needs solving but your human resources manager is vague, unhelpful or pessimistic, it is important to not give up. Your needs as a worker are very important and there are many reasons behind the reticence or inability of a human resources manager that you need to push past to get what you need.


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    Tell them first! Tell the HR manager that you feel that they are not helping. They usually appreciate this feedback and may not even have realized how you felt. Be clear and be reasonable - always make sure you are not asking for them to give you the moon when your position can only provide the clouds. The truth is that many HR managers are not sure what an employee thinks their role actually is and can sometimes give you the wrong answer inadvertently or simply not perceive the problem properly.
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    Ask your HR manager to provide facts. If you are told something cannot be done, ask for the policy documents and the legislative background to be provided to you so that you can fully understand the issue. Often, this will be enough to alert the HR manager that you are not going away in a hurry and may make them more responsive to your needs.
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    Ask your HR manager why they are not prepared to assist. Explain clearly why you feel it is their role and not yours to pursue an employment matter and find a solution. Get their reasons as to why they perceive this differently. Go away and see if you can find the holes in their reasoning and come back with well argued challenges to this.
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    Realize that some people don't do their work properly, whatever their role. It may be that you have struck someone who is inexperienced, has not yet come up to scratch with your workplace or jurisdiction, or who is overwhelmed by too much work in relation to many HR issues. Occasionally (and less likely) you strike someone who is simply lazy or makes arbitrary delineations as to who does what. In the latter case, knowing your rights is very important. In any of these cases, however, you are entitled to responsiveness and if this HR manager cannot deliver, ask for one who can.
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    See your direct manager. Explain the problem (if possible) and ask your manager to intervene. There may be something going on at a senior level that you are not able to fathom clearly but your manager can disentangle.
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    File a complaint. If you aren't getting anywhere despite trying, file a complaint internally about not getting the employment support you need. Only do this after you have really tried to work it out through all avenues because this method should only be one of last resort.
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    Seek review of the role of the HR manager. If, after all of your research and reading, you simply find that the role of the HR manager is too limited and does not do what you expect of them, it can be a good idea to raise this with senior management and request a review of the role and level of input of the HR manager. In doing this, it helps to outline clearly what you and your colleagues think you should be getting from this role as that will help guide senior management in its decision whether or not to review the role and the assistance employees get from the human resources branch.


  • If the matters you are raising are highly confidential, embarrassing or concerning for you and you went to the HR manager in place of your usual direct manager, you might consider raising the issue with either another manager you trust, or through an employee assistance scheme of some sort.
  • If you feel that the issue you are trying to get resolved is beneath your own manager, then you are taking the wrong tack. Anything that concerns an employee concerns both the direct manager and the HR manager. So do not be afraid to raise issues with your direct manager if you are not getting results from the HR manager.

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Categories: Workplace Conflicts Coping and Issues