HR dept is a terror

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  • CroissantRoll
    September 14, 2022 at 10:54 am #1115998

    I work for a fairly large company in the utility industry. I am a manager of a small team of people on a specific project the company has. The project is ending soon so they have started transitioning me to a different position on a different project. I am still managing my group, however they are now at a different location that I am at. They are also transitioning into different roles in different departments, but I am still their boss and they still report to me.
    The project that I am moving into is probably our company’s most profitable project. The 2 men who run this project are very nice, “good ol country boys” for lack of a better description. I have had no issues with them, we work well together and always get things done. However, the HR department HATES them. I don’t know why. I don’t know if there is background there that I am unaware of. I do know that the HR department as a whole has a reputation of being very unprofessional in general. Since I have started on the new project, they have been nothing but bullies. Specifically the director (the one in charge). I constantly feel targeted. I’m accused of not doing my work, or not doing it in a timely enough fashion. I have to directly contact job-site foremen to correct timesheets and help them with their paperwork. I think that maybe HR doesn’t understand that these guys may be foremen, but they do manual labor as well so they are not always readily available when I call, they are in bucket trucks, driving heavy equipment, dealing with co-op issues. I’ve tried to explain this to HR and my bosses have tried to explain this, but they do not listen. They don’t even try to listen. They love to cut you off and assume what you’re going to say and that is all they hear. I’ve told them that I am not making excuses, I’m trying to help everyone understand so that we can all be on the same page. I’ve suggested a better timeline that we can follow that they agreed to but then proceeded to go right back to their own rules and start sending aggressive emails questioning why things aren’t done. They are so rude in their emails, and if you ask a question, expect a very smart aleck response. I have had MANY people tell me the same thing. Numerous people have asked me why they have such bad attitudes and why they are so mean.
    On top of that they have now started overriding my authority over the group of people that I still manage. They are making decisions about their time off, writing them up as they see fit and not coming to me with any of this.
    It had gotten so bad that I went to our leadership coordinator and had a talk about the situations and how they are affecting my work. His response was something along the lines of “The division you’re in has been a little untouchable, due to the profits that it brings the company. You are now an easy way in for HR to get what they want, you are a polite and rule following employee and that makes you the easy target in that division that they can now push around”. So literally everyone knows how the department is, but nothing is ever done about it.
    I honestly think that the HR department is too small for the scale of company that we are and maybe that puts extra stress on them or something, but they shouldn’t be allowed to take that out on whoever they please. They are like a high school clique. They walk around together and and whisper and point and laugh.
    The group of people that I manage work in the same building as the HR department and they tell me stories about how much they talk badly about employees, they make fun of people. They put people who call HR with a problem on speakerphone and mute it so that they can mock them for the entire building to hear! I believe all of this to be true because I have seen some of this firsthand as I used to work in the building with them as well.
    I have worked very hard to be an employee that is trusted and known for doing good work. I have been here for about 5 1/2 years and have gotten many promotions due to my work ethic.
    This department is making my work life miserable. I go home everyday feeling defeated and like I can’t do anything right and it’s because I am constantly being hounded by HR. I haven’t worked this hard to get to my position just for someone to come along and make me try to believe that I am not worthy. I am currently looking for a new job, but I know that it will be hard to find something that will pay what I make now and it makes me sad to potentially leave a place where I’ve grown so much.
    Just wondering if anyone has any experience with a situation like this or any advice.
    Thanks for reading if you made it this far.

    September 14, 2022 at 3:29 pm #1116001

    You might get more advice if you tried a business site,like “Ask A Manager”.
    As I see it,it is not a great place to work and trying to leave.get another job sounds like a good idea.

    September 14, 2022 at 5:23 pm #1116002

    I don’t know your company, but my guess is that if your bosses are supporting you that HR is powerless to significantly harm you. Put your explanation in writing and send it to HR and your bosses. Keep a copy (printed out, the company can erase emails) of the back and forth from HR.

    September 14, 2022 at 5:53 pm #1116003

    There’s a little bit to unpack here. I am reading ~emotion~ in your statements about these HR people. They have really gotten under your skin. When you talk about them being mean, bullies, making you question your worth, that’s really affecting you on a personal level. They are fucking with you at this point. But look, they are just a department in your company. You don’t have to let them get to you in any kind of a personal way. You don’t have to let them make you leave the company. Or even get you so wound up that you waste time talking about them with your employees.

    You really can make a choice not to engage. You know these people are dicks, that’s how they are, it doesn’t have to be personal at all. You can just do your job and ignore them. Why leave a place you like because of some HR people’s behavior about timesheets? You don’t even need to respond to their rude emails.

    It does sound like they have a problem with those guys you manage. Maybe for a good reason, maybe not. They seem to be trying to give those guys a bit of a hard time and you got in the middle of it and they realized they could push your buttons so they do. Don’t let them push your buttons. Literally do your job and ignore them. Don’t complain about them either. I think things will improve once you flip the script and say look, this is just some people being dicks at work, who cares.

    September 14, 2022 at 6:47 pm #1116004

    I’m having a hard time comprehending what’s going on, but @kate always has good work advice so I’d listen to what she’s saying. Ignore them. Do you job. You director knows they’re asses so it won’t reflect poorly on you if you keep doing your job as you have been.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by ktfran.
    September 15, 2022 at 6:47 am #1116008

    HR doesn’t sit at the top of the food chain, they shouldn’t be untouchable. They have to report to someone. Find out who that person is.

    If you’re in the profitable division then you’re in a position of power. Use it. Start recording your objections to their behavior. Start calling them out.
    When they override a decision, email them questioning why they overrode your authority. Email. Them. About. Everything. Don’t take phone calls or if they force it, follow it up with an email that summarizes what they said and ask them to confirm your understanding. BCC a private account.

    Check to see what the recording laws are in your state. If you live in a one-party state, that is awesome.

    When they start making your life hard (and they will) – record what they are doing and your objection. Create a file. Get support from your cowboys. They can be loyal as hell. Have them make noise to their buddies in corporate, it will work it’s way up to people who can step in. When you need to pull the trigger – you go to the person to whom they report with the issues they’ve been causing, the nonsense they are dealing with and that you need that shit to stop. If they take no action, you will have a nice file for an employment lawyer.

    September 15, 2022 at 12:25 pm #1116011

    That’s one approach to take. It’s going to require plenty of mental and emotional energy and requires you to actively fight against HR for however long it takes. Which I imagine they have more intestinal fortitude for than you do. If this is the hill you want to die on, absolutely it’s an option, but I feel like work is hard enough without being in active combat with other people, and at the end of the day it’s just a paycheck. I’m not a non-confrontational person, I’m a huge bitch, used to hit people on occasion in my youth, but at work I never ever get into a battle with anyone. If they’re hard to work with, I work around them or figure out how to make it productive. Fighting is just not worth it in my experience. I’ve watched my boss get into pissing contests with people and it’s cringey and then I have to go smooth things over and get shit done.

    September 15, 2022 at 12:26 pm #1116012

    If you do want it directly addressed though, it’s actually your boss’s job to remove blockers for you. So your next best action here could be to have your boss talk to their boss about how your departments can work together more effectively.

    ETA: If that goes nowhere, then you definitely know not to keep fighting them, because it’s an indicator that this isn’t that important to your boss (that the departments work well together, not that you have a personal problem with HR), and they won’t be in your corner when this blows up.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by Kate.
    September 15, 2022 at 2:46 pm #1116016

    I’m not confrontational but I also don’t let people walk all over me. At work I’m very good at pushing back politely and calling people out by asking them to clarify why they did something or said something and using phrases like “I’m not sure I agree with that” or “I think we have some conflicting priorities” or “As much as I’d like to do that, I’m bound by the rules of space and time”

    September 15, 2022 at 2:51 pm #1116017

    Yes, I’m all for that, I do that too.

    September 15, 2022 at 3:21 pm #1116018

    yeah, a Bartleby the Scrivner model of polite refusal can go a long way.

    September 16, 2022 at 6:34 am #1116034

    A polite but firmly toned email questioning HR overstepping is not necessarily confrontational. Something along the lines of


    I’m hoping you can help me better understand some recent decisions/actions as it relates to … person… As I am this person’s current manager, I was surprised to hear about …. action… Has something changed in the reporting relationship? If not, then I’m going to direct … person… If there is a change, please let me know. Otherwise, I’ll assume this is just a big misunderstanding.


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HR dept is a terror

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