Comstock's magazine 0618 - June 2018 - Page 29

it’s just that she likes Jane and Steve more than anyone else because their personalities mesh, it’s not illegal. It’s just dumb. Why is this bias such a big deal out- side of employee relations? Well, let’s talk about what HR is supposed to do. Just like your head of sales is supposed to be your expert on sales, your head of HR is supposed to be your expert on people. If you need to do succession planning or want to implement a rotation program so you can cross-train people, an HR man- ager that plays favorites will damage employee morale and threaten the well- being of the company. The HR manager loves Jane and Steve so she recommends them for the special rotation program. But, in real- ity, Bob and Karen are much better- suited for the program. What happens then? Jane and Steve may do a fine job (most people do), but Bob and Karen feel (rightly) that they don’t have a chance for success in this company. They find other jobs and leave. The problem: This reinforces every- one’s opinion that Jane and Steve were the right people for the program. Good thing we didn’t promote Bob and Karen, since they both quit! Dodged a bullet there, eh? Except you didn’t. Instead, you lost two great performers who could have been valuable assets to your team for years to come. So you need to conduct an investiga- tion, and it might be better to outsource something this sensitive. Be careful that whoever you hire is licensed to conduct workplace investigations, because Cali- fornia requires outside investigators to be either licensed attorneys or licensed private investigators. An HR consultant can’t do this for you. An investigation will involve speak- ing discreetly to the people who came to of an impact will this have on the com- pany? Can it be solved by outsourcing? Can it be solved by placing her on a per- formance improvement plan? Is the best solution to let her go and hire someone who can remain neutral? (Side note: HR managers, you should have no close friends at work, except maybe your peers in HR.) You need to conduct an investigation, and it might be better to outsource something this sensitive. you with their concerns. You’ll want to say, “You came to me and said that you were worried the HR manager might favor her friends over other employees. Can you give me an example of when you saw this occur?” Now, as with all investigations, you have to follow where it leads. Maybe your HR manager is awesome and the complainers were simply upset that she didn’t give them special privileges. It happens. Still, you can’t just ignore these serious allegations. You can ask people who else you should speak with and follow up. It’s imperative that you keep things as confidential as possible. At the end of the investigation you have to make a determination. Is your HR manager playing favorites? How big In the meantime, you should be grateful that your employees trust you enough to come to you with their con- cerns. If they’ll come to complain about such things, you have hope that they’ll come to you with more serious prob- lems — like sexual harassment, racial discrimination or securities violations. The best thing a business can do is tackle each one of these problems before it gets too big. Your open door allows that to happen and your investigation will en- sure it continues to happen. n Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corpo- rate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers and double- checked with the lawyers. On Twitter @RealEvilHRLady. June 2018 | 29