10 Moves Guaranteed to Alienate HR

In climbing the corporate ladder, one of the most powerful allies to have on your side is your Human Resources department. To keep the alliance strong and working to your benefit, here are ten things you should NOT do.

by the Authors of I Didn’t See it Coming

In climbing the corporate ladder, one of the most powerful allies to have on your side is your Human Resources department. They have their finger on the pulse of the inner wiring of the organization, and if there is any staffer who can alert you to upcoming events that might be beneficial to you or your team, it’s someone from HR.

To keep the alliance strong and working to your benefit, here are ten things you should NOT do:

1. Treat HR staffers like glorified secretaries or gofers.

2. Bring in your own search firms without getting HR’s approval list first.

3. Promise raises and/or promotions to your staff unless you’ve first cleared them with HR for consistency with others in similar jobs or grades.

4. Fail to attend a meeting arranged at your request to discuss a performance problem with a member of your staff.

5. Say anything remotely politically incorrect in a public place and then try to explain away your gaff by saying “but everyone knew I was kidding”.

6. Miss the deadlines for performance appraisals, bonus recommendations, merit increases, or job requisitions.

7. Yell “With all the paperwork you require, it’s impossible to run a business!”

8. Tell HR it is their job to develop job specs for your department.

9. Be out of the office when candidates have been scheduled for job interviews.

10. Ask for confidential information about salaries.

I Didn’t See it Coming: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need to Avoid Being Blindsided in Business  (Wiley; Hardcover $24.95; 0-470-11645-5; 224 pages; May 2007).


Nancy C. Widmann (New York, NY) was the first woman president at CBS, Inc. She managed CBS Radio for eight years and was inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2005. She now serves as an executive coach for senior managers and frequently speaks on corporate politics.

Elaine J. Eisenman, Ph.D. (Wellesley, MA) is Dean of Executive Education at Babson College. She holds a doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology and has over 25 years of experience as a consultant, business executive, and board director for both public and privately held companies.

Amy Dorn Kopelan (New York, NY) moved upward for 20 years through the executive ranks of ABC Television and managed programming at Good Morning America for nine years. She is founder of COACH ME, Inc., which provides group coaching for mid-level managers in Fortune 500 companies.


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