The cardinal sins of bad HR leaders

by |
Let’s face it - HR is one of the toughest jobs in the world, and no-one’s perfect, but HR consultant and blogger, Tim Sackett, has given a blistering attack on bad HR leadership that could actually serve as a useful warning of what not to do if you’re looking to build your credibility in HR management.
Here are the five traits of bad HR leaders according to Tim Sackett:
Using bad metrics
Failure to track results, or failure to measure the things that matter, mean most decisions are being made based on bad data, or simply relying on instinct. Some HR leaders are more focused on looking like they’re doing well than finding out whether they actually are doing well, Sackett suggests.
Not taking appropriate risks
“Lousy HR leaders love to cover their own ass more than any other single thing they do,” Sackett says. “Organizations take risk every single day. It’s not HR’s job to eliminate risk, it’s our job to champion appropriate risk and be all in with our business partners.”
Not being a master of the tough conversation
Unfortunately for HR, many tough conversations fall within their responsibility. It’s vital that HR address misconceptions, be clear about expectations and assess problems beyond a surface level.
“Most leadership fails at this, but HR can’t. We have to be the coaches for all other leadership in our organization,” Sackett says. “If anyone knows how to have a tough conversation, it has to be HR.”
Not being able to clearly articulate the corporate vision
An on-going area of improvement for most HR leaders, those that ignore the need for alignment are limiting their organization.
“Another sign of lousy leadership is when your leader just uses the organization vision and can’t break it down to a functional level,” Sackett adds “This is just flat out lazy.
Not being able to treat employees as equal but different
Sackett says there’s a difference between treating everyone the same, and making everyone feel equal, and it’s a difference HR needs to recognize.
“I want all my employees to feel like no one is better than another, but we also have to have a fundamental organizational understanding that at certain points and times some employees must be treated differently, for the good of the organization,” he says. “Lousy HR leaders are uncomfortable with this concept because it’s easy to just fall back on ‘we treat everyone the same.’ “
What do you think are the worst traits HR leaders can have?
  • Chris on 2014-04-21 12:23:14 PM

    I think one bad trait of HR leaders is supporting the idea that "the union rules the organization". This also comes from a place of laziness and sometimes fear. It might be easier to acquiesce to the demands of the union but is it the right thing to do? Especially in recruitment, the best fit for the particular position is the right way to go whether the candidate is included in the collective agreement or not. The organization has the right to make the decision that is in the best interests of the organization. If the organization fails, there will be no workers to organize!

HRM Online forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Name (required)
Comment (required)
By submitting, I agree to the Terms & Conditions