For those of you who haven’t been following the drama of DNA testing over at Ask a Manager, you need to stop right now and go read this:
and the Update: update: a DNA test revealed the CEO is my half brother … and he’s freaking out
Now that you’ve read that, we can all come to an agreement. CEBro is in need of some serious therapy. But, for my purposes, I’m even more concerned about the HR people in this company.
While it’s true that HR can do very little about a whacked-out CEO, they can do something, and these HR people made it absolutely worse. Assuming the OP is a reliable narrator (and let’s face it, this whole story is so whacked I’m not sure someone could think this up), let’s see what well learn about HR:
About a week after I got my results, an email went out from the head of HR stating that all staff had to take a refresher training on nepotism…I found out no other branch had to retake the nepotism training and the email only came to our office. My manager later pulled me in personally to ask if I had any questions about the policy. She was vague and uncomfortable, and I said I wanted to know why nobody else was brought in 1:1 to talk about the policy and why no other branch had to do the training. She just kind of ignored the question and said she was just following instructions, so now I think this was aimed at me.
Now, in my 20-plus years in HR, I’ve never taken or taught nepotism training. Certainly, there are policies against it in many companies, but it’s been a passing mention when talking about hiring or transferring an employee. Not a whole training, and certainly not in this passive-aggressive manner.
Later, HR doubled down:
The Monday after Dad spoke to CEBro’s mother, I was walking through the lobby when HR literally ambushed me and loudly fired me in front of a client and like twenty of my colleagues. Security escorted me out in front of my friends and colleagues who had no idea what was happening so that was pretty dark and humiliating. Katie stopped me on the way to my car and brought me back in for a video call with her, the VP, and the owners of the company. I explained what had happened since I got my DNA results back, the nepotism training, and editing as much of the personal stuff as I could for my Dad’s sake but the whole thing was humiliating. I was unfired but asked to turn in my badge, as both CEBro and I were suspended pending a full investigation by the owners and their lawyer. I was suspended with pay, which HR vehemently protested against. The suspension lasted a week and I had planned to spend that time looking for another job but I just didn’t have it in me.
Then I read this story on Reddit: AITA for not giving my boss my first-class seat?
It’s another bonkers story about a boss gone off the deep-end. Of course, the person is NTA for not going up the first-class seat, as the OP earned that through points and such. Reddit agreed. But they also asked why the OP didn’t go to HR. The response?
She’s very Buddy Buddy with our HR rep which is what has made me nervous in the past. They seem very willing to believe her over employees.
When HR is “buddy buddy” with managers, they become absolutely worthless in this type of situation. First of all, we’re all inclined to believe our friends over others. Second, other people assume we will believe our friends over them. So even if you can always see clearly and remain neutral in professional settings while you gather facts, people won’t go to to you.
And yet, people argue that HR should be friends with the people they work with. A case in point:
This is the best example of cognitive dissonance for line “people are our most important asset”
The email and @Twitter handle suits you very well. @RealEvilHRLady #Callous #ToxicHR pic.twitter.com/HeorVIV5Xf
— @RodrigoLobos 🇨🇱 🇺🇦🌻 (@RodrigoLobos) February 28, 2023
Being nice is important. HR should be nice. They should be friendly. We should be friendly. But we must have clear boundaries. Otherwise, “people” are not our most important asset; our friends are our most important assets.
Both of these stories are about terrible, terrible bosses, but they were supported by terrible HR. You’re not an exception. Keep your boundaries, make friends within the HR department, a division you don’t support, or outside the company. If you’re going to die without being besties with some manager, one of you needs a new job. Friendships in this setting can cause as many problems as romantic relationships when it comes to HR.