So I was digging through my old blog posts looking for what I could contribute to the Carnival of HR this week and I kept running into the same problem. The theme for this carnival is the “Worst of HR” and so participation meant submitting your worst blog post or a post about the mistakes you’ve made as an HR professional. My problem is that while I was digging through my archives I noticed two things: 1. I used to blog about a lot of random stuff and 2. I couldn’t decide on a post. This is not to say that I don’t think I have done bad blog posts, no one can say that, but nothing felt right. I mean, here is a post about mistakes I made as a job candidate, but the carnival is about mistakes you’ve made practicing HR so it’s not quite right either.
You know what this means right? It means I need to share an actual mistake I’ve made. Sigh. It’s hard talking about your own failures. But hey, nobody’s perfect, least of all HR. So here’s the story:
A long time ago, in a company far far away, there was a young HR Professional who while earnest and enthusiastic, was also new to the field and thus, was lacking confidence in her own judgment. One day a manager brought to her attention an employee who was experiencing attendance and performance problems. Formerly one of the best employees in the company, the employee had recently experienced some hardships in his personal life and it was affecting his work. Besides arriving late, if at all, when there he was clearly preoccupied and unfocused. The HR professional gladly agreed to meet with the employee and manager to provide a verbal warning and hopefully prevent a further decline. That meeting went well on the surface. The employee acknowledged his behavior, seemed sincerely apologetic, and accepted the EAP information provided.
But something was bothering the HR Pro. She had a strong suspicion that the employee was drunk. At work. Or at the very least buzzed. But no one else seemed to notice it. The HR Professional was in a tight spot. She had no evidence and seemed to be alone in her observations. But if he really was drunk… dude. So what did the HR pro do? Nothing. That’s right, she kept her suspicions to herself out of fear that she was wrong and never said anything. The problem seemed to work itself out as the employee started performing successfully again but the HR Pro knew that she had been lucky. And she always regretted not going to her boss with her suspicions because the story could have so easily gone another way.
I learned a big lesson from that mistake. Inaction is still a choice, and a fear of being wrong cannot stop you from doing your job, not when you work in HR. HR can’t be passive and still function.