Please, Please, Please, Find a New Job

I’ve got another one for you: (Go here for the first problem.)

Is it LEGAL for your supervisor (also your HR Manager) to forbid you from going to lunch with any employee at all? How about whole departments?

Might that vary from state to state? Or is there a federal law?

Oh, and it’s not stated anywhere in our employee handbook.

Thanks for any advice. I’ve tried to do some research on this but can’t find anything concrete.

Honestly, I have no idea. From what I know, I can’t see where it would be illegal, but it might be. I’m certainly no expert on employment law, especially in all 50 states.

Here’s the problem. Your manager and you don’t see eye to eye. She doesn’t like the way you dress. She doesn’t want you interacting with the employees. She doesn’t trust your judgment.

Now, I happen to think you have great judgment because you come to me for advice, but that aside, it’s time to either change to be what she wants or move on.

There are many reasons why HR should not be chummy with the employees. Does your boss not socialize at lunch either? If she doesn’t, then this is one of her policies and learn to love it or leave. If she does, it’s your judgment she doesn’t trust.

It takes a great deal of time to build up trust in someone who you already have negative feelings for. You’ll have to work three times as hard to prove yourself to this person. You’ll have to act in ways that are not natural to you.

You can certainly do this, but why? Polish your resume and start looking for a new job where you will have a better fit. And while you are polishing, take a good look at yourself. What is it that this woman doesn’t like? While she may be completely irrational, there are probably some valid reasons for her concerns.

Figure out what they are and correct them or this will haunt you the rest of your career.

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6 thoughts on “Please, Please, Please, Find a New Job

  1. Excellent advice, as always. Also, if you’re truly baffled about what she doesn’t like, it might be possible to find out directly from her. This won’t work with everyone, but you could try sitting down with her and just being candid: “Elizabeth, I can tell that you’re not happy with some aspects of the way I approach my job, but I honestly don’t know what they are. Would you be willing to have an off-the-record conversation with me about where I could do better?” It’s likely more effective if you have this when you’re already on your way out, as her tension about the situation might be lower. Obviously only do this if what you know about her tells you that she won’t respond like a complete jerk.

  2. I have known some HR heads who toe the hard line and have asked us not to socialize with employees (implying, not stating – no lunch with employees, amongst other things). Previous issue with this manager aside, if that is the culture and practice of the HR department, I’m not sure how raising this will be helpful to you. On the other hand, I do see HR as being a critical component to building the right culture to the company. If you are in a position to influence it, you should. Clearly your managers’s vision of HR is not in line with yours, so a better question is why stay?

  3. I wish it wasn’t true, but I have often been surprised by the perceptions that spring up when an HR person has lunch with “friends” at the office.

    “You’re just going to side with John on this – I know you go to lunch together.”

    Perceptions may not be factual, but they certainly do become reality for people. Thanks for the post.

  4. I’m giving your HR Manager the benefit of the doubt and suggesting that he/she is trying to mentor you in some of the areas you are lacking and/or are not picking up in your HR career. Perhaps she was trying to “suggest” to you rather than “forbid”?

    Do I wish I could be like everyone else and be BFF’s with every manager and employee in the company? Sure! Am I like everyone else in the company? Nope.

    Early on in my HR career, I had to fire someone I was close to, and it taught me very quickly about the requirement of maintaining “HR distance”. Truthfully, I have been thankful for that harsh lesson, learned while young in my career.

    Perhaps your HR Manager is simply trying to impart some of her experience and knowledge to you, and to help you incorporate it into your own HR career.

    Instead of seeing it as mentoring, you seem to be seeing it as criticism or directives? Just my two cents!

  5. This is round two. Despite your earlier request to Evil and the rest of us for advice and despite the advice we gave you (fit in or move on), you’re still there. Why? Is it possible that you revel in the sense of persecution and victimhood? You don’t need more advice. You’ve gotten lots of it, all good. Now do something and quit playing martyr.

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