What’s Wrong with HR?

I once heard of a debate between two different sects of people one being from northern India and other one belonging to southern part of the country. It could have been a pretty un-constructive, argumentative discussion where one group tells the other group what’s wrong with it and vice versa – everyone would have gone home with the same opinions that they came with – however this debate was of a different kind.

Each side was told to prepare arguments against their own habits, religion/faith and their perspective. The north Indians had to say what they didn’t like about people from north, what they felt uncomfortable with and had to deconstruct and poke holes in their own framework for thinking. The south Indian guys had to do the same for their own region.user-photo-251287-24612

The result was fascinating and encouraging – rather that the two groups coming away with reinforced hatred of and anger towards the other the results of the event was incredibly constructive. Both groups found that they learned not only a lot about the other group – but about their own perspective.

Ok – so why am I telling you this on a blog about HR? Have I mistakenly posted this information here instead of on my other blog?

No – I”m actually wondering if it might be a helpful exercise as HR people to do something similar.

Let me start this by quoting what our Evil HR Lady has to say about HR:


“Why am I evil? Well, I’m not, but that’s the perception of all of us in HR. Need to fire someone? Come to HR. Need to explain to someone why, even after working their rear end off all year, that their annual increase is 2.7%? Come to HR. Need to come up with new mountains of paperwork? Come to HR. So, come join me on the Evil Side.”


Let’s talk about what we don’t like about HR. What are its weaknesses? What are its limitations? How would you construct an argument against HR?

Lets learn something about HR by deconstructing it for a bit. Put the boots in readers – lets kick it about for a bit – time for a bit of a bitch session!

The rules are simple – you’re not allowed to say ANYTHING positive about HR in comments below (or feel free to respond on your own blog and leave a link below so we can find it). There are no wrongs and rights – everyone’s critiques of the medium are valid.

Go on – I know you want to – lets lay into HR!

  • Jyoti says:

    Decision Making:

    HR does not have any role in decision making as its still considered as a support function & all the decision making lies with the immediate reporting manager.

  • HP munshi says:

    It is very tricky for an organization to practice HR which not yet fully determined to become professional. As a result, many a times the HR guy feels it is a waste of time doing all the exercise. Goin professional is a tough decision to implement because you have to dismantle the old hierarchy.

    HP Munshi

  • HP munshi says:

    Practicing HR is very difficult unless an organization is determined to dismantle old hierarchy and go ahead with professionalism

  • Moses says:

    The world is highly dynamic now; but HR doesn’t seem to be changing! Old ways of doing things are still ‘ruling’the HRM. Indeed we need professionalism!

  • HR Whiz says:

    HR will not achieve as much in companies where the top HR person reports through operations instead of directly to the CEO.

  • HR = about Humans that have a lot to offer and Not about Resources
    HR = Human Relations & Human Results, else HR = Hardly Relevant

  • NgoHR says:

    I agreed with Whiz.

    But I think HR just send some basic report to CEO (thing necessary).


  • Gowrisekar says:

    May be a holistic approach in HR policy is lacking in India and it should be flexible enough to accommodate the changes according to changing business scenario. I don’t think in many organisations HR is given a free hand/full autonomy to decide and implement what he thinks. Appropriate HR manual is in absence.

  • joycee says:

    about the debate, well its a good HR exercise because we discover more things about our own perspectives in life and also with those of the other people..
    by that, we discover the root of a persons behavior.

  • Arundathy says:

    It is very difficult to set up HR Department in an organisation which has been used to work without it since decades. Employees feel as if new rules, policies are bombarded on them and their freedom is taken away. Moreover, HR is treated as cost center for the company. And still not involved in any strategic decision of the organisation.

  • Vanesha says:

    I think HR is doing so much,you name it-talent management; compensation & reward; employee relations, PMS, etc; But there is not enough recognition and the biggest culprit is us HR. We do not know how to market ourselves as HR.

  • Amit Bhagria says:

    Hi Vanesha,

    You’re absolutely rite here. Most of the times we do not get recognized for our efforts. So we ourselves should learn to market ourselves and also appreciate ourselves.


  • HR as a department still needs to mature in terms of integrating itself into core business of the company, we generally have industry best practices formulae for every issue in company. So more specific tailor made solutions and ideas are required by HR.
    We still dont have standarised HR processes in most of the Indian companies, standarisation is required to mature upto level of outsourcing transactional tasks and moving on to more strategic business specific processes

  • shelley says:

    i agree to what vanesha said … v HR shud market rself … alonwd ds … in most f d organizations HR z wrking solely … HR shud keep in mind d vision n mission of the organization and wrk acc.its not just dat v hv 2 provide resources … v also hv 2 c dat resources r optimally utilised n act as a team n not jst a single deptt.

  • Ankita says:

    i hav jst start my training under HRD…i dont hav any idea abt it rite nw…but i hav heard frm ppl that payment wise we get paid less…is it true?

  • Miloni says:

    HR as a department is always criticized for not matching up to the expectations of HR…Its high time HR starts describing its importance in terms of Return on Investment on employees and brag about all that it has done…
    HR now needs to speak up and find its place in the Strategic business management on the Company

  • omar says:

    I think the work of hr is for every manager,not only those working in the hr department

  • Megha says:

    Why HR people dont have authority to take decisions then n there,they will have to ask so many people before taking any decision.Which actually creates a doubt of things to be done or not.

  • Amit Bhagria says:

    @Megha, Sometimes HR people lack authority or assertiveness…this may be one of the cause for such a behaviour

  • Megha says:

    If an employee come up with any grievance to be readressed n HR people will take time more than what it shoud take then obviously they will lose confidence on us.Sometimes we also feel helpless.

  • josephine says:

    its about time HR takes part in decision making instead of just impolementing what has been decided. other department do not also see the importance of HR which is just toooo bad. Hr has to sit up and let people know what thw do and its mpact on the company’s objectives.

  • Amrit Jha says:

    HR in today world need to be flexible in approach, be in terms of any technique.The idea is that we r living in d world of change.Everything from person to person or else never remain the same.In INDIA particularly , organizations cultures are said to be contextualized. So,HR must update a/c to the ongoings,other than applying methods which simply give an impression of old wine in new bottle.

  • Paul says:

    We are often too scared to take our spece at the Operations or other corporate tables; not in an arrogant or aggressive way, but knowing that we have value to add every day in our businesses. Living and working in Africa is definately not for scared people; ask me!!! The challenges make it interesting.

  • budraddin says:

    HR in itself as terminology it deals with people but there are things that makes the differences, knowing about HR. but what we see as they said most of people doing the work of HRM but still without knowing what is it that is the differences they dont know where they finished and dealing with it professionally.

  • Bright says:

    Some CEOs do not seem to understand the role of HR. Hence they are not prepared to listen to every issue on HR.

  • George says:

    It is difficult to understand the strategic role HR in organisation that lacks prefessionalism.

  • Gabriel mwita says:

    Measuring HR ouput is a challenge. HR does a lot for effective employee performance, but its output is not well linked with HR and thus HR seems to be seen as a cost centre.

  • Shella says:

    if the assigned person in HR is not open-minded with a lot of possibilities & govern more on what the book says, that HR personnel could not make an out of the box situation. HR personnel should possess an objective thought, know how to balance & the most important is with compassion in dealing with people. That’s why they are called human relations…building relationship with people around them.

  • Jayanthi says:

    I agree with Munshi. “Practicing HR is very difficult unless an organization is determined to dismantle old hierarchy and go ahead with professionalism.”

  • Yvette says:

    HR is forced to operate in sylos from the other departments in the organisation because the top hierarchy of organisations do not understand and appreciate the role of HR this makes it difficult for HR to function. Heads of HR need to become creative in their communication style to be able to overcome these obstacles.

  • Sandra says:

    human resources are definately2 blame 4 the bulk of processes that go wrong, most of the time it would be due 2 the lack of proper/adequate training. In hr,u can never have friends,i am a senior hr officer and recently had 2 discipline a close colleague of
    mine…it was tough bt i survived.as hr,i have 2 ensure that discipline is consistent and thatz what i did.like u mentioned before-the mst difficult thing 2 manage…people.

  • according to me human resource management has a great value but it is the contrary in mostly all companies, firstly old working practice, lack of new knowledge and advanced software. lack of professionism. HR main roles are ignored such as it is mostly concerned with employees but i think what we learn academically is not put into practice.

    best wishes

  • Sakshi Gupta says:

    Even after working a lot on all the parameters, decision is lying with management only and others think we do not have work to do and we are the ones who r cost centers only for the organization.


  • Manoj says:

    The biggest disadvantage of HR is that when we recruit for our own HR department we look for people who can speak better, who can present things better and who can overall set a good impression. We ignore the other capabilities. To be precise we ignore the capability of Action. I always say HR is like “Do Nothing and Say Eveything”. We have come up with various techniques, practices and jargons for our field but we hardly do anything apart from the rudimentary functions. If some organisations do, then people are not able to understand the value of those functions (eg- people know about Porter’s model but how many people(who are not from HR Field)know what is actually job analysis.So,Self-introspect, create awareness about HR advanced functions among other people and think next time when you recruit any HR personnel next time. Sorry for strong criticism but i tried to hit the rod as forcefully as possible because the Technique discussed here(North- South)says so.

    Happy Redemption

  • Remya S Nair says:

    HR is everything but it is nothing for us….Hr people understand other’s but other’s cant understand HR people…….HR process is too long to understand….It is not easy to be HR…

  • Elisha Simon says:

    @Vanesha, i think we are now been recognised in HR dept. more than before. the economic meltdown has now place HR managers in a more respectable position. HR managers are now seen as business partners

  • Thessalonica B. Mapua says:

    HR needs to be sensitive or aware to needs of the people and the organization and be innovative to create/install new interventions like HR processes and systems. By doing so, it will be easy for HR managers to get a seat at the Board room and become more strategic in dealing with HR issues, solutions and decisions.

  • Simson says:

    I think in most companies HR do not get the recognition it deserved as a strategic business partner..i think the perception should change to where HR will form part of any company strategic team and should therefore report directly to the CEO..For instance when a strategic decision is to be taking HR should form part of that..HR should not just be an implementor of decisions but should become a partner in making decision..

  • Ankita Joshi says:

    According to me this exercise would be beneficial for the HR also because the HR have to recruit people from the various region and they have different religion, culture, and beliefs and their work life influenced by it. its important to understand their life style to manage the work diversity in the work place and its important also for the boast the confidence of the employee, so its useful exercise for the hr also.

  • Rehab says:

    HR Department is a Employee Service Department just tell othes as conusultant and the line management is full responsable for taking decisions as well as its’ results and effects.
    Rehab Elabd
    HR Section Head

  • Mia says:

    Most HR professionals would not recognize a talented individual if it hit them in the face. Whether this means not rewarding the individuals in the orginization who are working the hardest or not hiring the correct people for the job. HR is really just a giant middle man between hiring managers and job seekers. They have very narrow minded ideas about what kind of employees they are going to hire for which positions and any employee that doesn’t fit all the items in the checklist is disregarded. As an analogy say you wanted to hire an empolyee with experience selling cars. HR will likely take someone who has an OK track record in auto sales rather than an outstanding track record in furniture sales because it meets their preset definition of the “car salesman” they are looking for. Most hiring managers if reading the resume themselves would rather have the empolyee with a great track record in furniture sales beacause they realize that it’s the sales skills that are important to the job and not necessarily the knowledge of the product. How many times have you seen an HR job descritpion that says “employee must have had 3-5 years in the ______ industry” rather than “emoployee must have demonstrated ablity to make strategic decisions based on financial analysis in their last position”. The truth is most people don’t have one way career paths where they stay in 1 company or industry their whole lives. HR has not adapted to this reality at all in my opinion to the detriment of anyone who is looking for a job.

  • emeka says:

    HR can not develop beyond the perspective of the business owners. it is often seen as a cost center adding little value to the mission and vision focus of many organizations, no wonder no organization ever crafts its mission statement in relation to its human resource capacity

  • jubilee says:

    Am a student of human resource management as part of a degree in Hospital Mgt. The comments are interesting as they are flabagasting!

  • Terry says:

    HR frequently forgets to find out what the customer needs and operates in “their” best interest. Our customers are NOT HR experts and simply want a service and we frequently forget to treat our customer as a customer. Instead we want to be the Parent and tell the Child what to do, not to do, etc.

  • JK says:

    Often we hear comments that HR is nothing but a mere support dept. & there are times lesser known as a back-office unit. Sound pathetic, isn’t? HR often takes a secondary role even in some major companies when compared to these revered depts. ie. S&M,R&D, Design,Mfg.,Merchandising & Procurement. The experts talk about HR being strategic partners but sadly, the role of HR is easily overshadowed by the many other depts. These days, many of HR functions can be readily outsourced which further diminished the importance of HR role. Isn’t it an irony that given the lower treatment accorded to HR, yet institutions of higher learning continued to offer masters degree in this discipline. Many opines that by equipping oneself with a diploma is good enough to perform the job. They are many people I came to know didn’t have formal training/education in HR but was tasked with the job & responsibilities of HR. Isn’t this further erodes the role of HR although the HR fraternity would like to think otherwise.

  • prem says:

    i think human resource management is sake good customer service and good working environment of their staffs. So HR responsibility is unlocked the dynamic professionally working for human needed there is come customer and all kind of staffs of the organisation benefits or profits.

  • prince says:

    HR in modern time e. should not be seen as just a function dealing with human needs and ending there. After all where will the organisation head to without the human force that implements the goals of the organisation. He should be seem as part of strategy taking and therefore very vital to the operations of the organisation.He determines, recruits, trains,reward and above among other functions inculcates the culture of the organisation into the employees so that the goals of the organisation can be achieved.

  • Lakshmi says:

    Dear All, Yes i agree with all your points. HR is not a decision maker and has its own limitations. Sometimes the decisions has to be taken in favor of the top management rather than thinking self role as a bridge between the employer and employee.

    Oftenly HR fails to think about the mission and vision of the organization it rather does a mechanically process with no much innovation/ creativity.

  • meera says:

    HR Manager is the art of appealing to the mind by approaching the heart, while marketing is entering the hearts by approaching the mind. Hr must balance the heart and mind.

  • M.A.Raafe says:

    First and foremost, H.R. role is specious in nature, although an H.R. is supposed to take a decision depending on the situation but what we normally witness is H.R. would go by certain rules and regulation as a result of which they basically are not contributing their idea’s. Secondly H.R. does not contribute revenue generation of the company/firm, it is a supporting role.

  • smaranika mohapatra says:

    @Amit Bhagria,
    hello sir,
    i need more sugession abut HR. bcs after few days i m going to conduct my SIP in the field of HR.

  • Mash says:

    HR is a place to drop negatives(dept to blame). always hr is pointed by fingers for the relief line if they had failed to reach their goals

  • Alisha says:

    Still all the decision taking powers and policy formulation acceptance is in handa of MD. other departments think that HR people are kept only for making salaries and checking attendance…they are always free..how to remove this misconception from people’s mind?

  • ganesh says:

    man management has been in practice, since time man became civilized, history teaches us many world leaders, good and bad, the way they manipulated and had their movements in history. the way joint families were maintained by an individual, the growth of civilization, beginning of trade and commerce, great visionaries, their contribution towards building of wealth, nations, better standard of life, what were they practicing in terms of HR? how do they get their work/task done by others? how did they establish what is now, that we are benefited from it? were their north or south or east or west, to make this happen? even if yes how were they managed? what was the reward or punishment for a job well done or otherwise. what makes every individual to behave the natural way right from getting up in morning up to going back to bed in night ! how do we transform our selves as the time and situation demands towards our family/friends/strangers/office colleagues etc. How does it matter if HR is required or not ?

  • PREETI says:

    I don’t think any thing is wrong with hr, I just love this profile .
    yes their are challenges,but its quite interesting thing to do in any organization , instead of dealing with non living things, dealing with human brain is quite interesting, challenging, full of new learning and fun as well.

    I just love my work :).

  • Amit Bhagria says:

    Hi Preethi,

    I agree with you tht HR is quite interesting and challenging…….however nothing is perfect in this world…..we can try and improve things so as to be nearer to perfection….Hope you think from that point of view.

    Any ways thanks for commenting.


  • Ung says:

    HR is an ineffective department!
    * Sales cannot sell much enough since HR cannot find the replacement for Sales person.
    * Many employees working through their retirement age without getting any notice since HR has been sleeping.
    * The Staff party was so boring since HR could not organize the event well.
    * HR just has done nothing beneficial to our company. ther eis no improvmeent in welfare, compensation, benefits, etc.
    * Why we have to spend hours in training and short of manpower?
    * etc…etc..etc…

    I have been working in HR for more than 15 years and still hear of these above voices regularly. I lov emy job and I know that HR have done a LOT of things. The problem is that HR is not good at PR. We are not good at promoting our works. Adjusting the salary range became the showcase of Finance since HR is so humble and did not speak up for ourselves. The fun and success of Sports Day became the work piece of the Sports Committee which HR is the chair person and not share with others how difficult it was to get each member to do their parts in organizing the event.

    All these things are lesson learned for me and would like to share to other HRs. ^_^

  • Kaveri says:

    Dear Amit,

    Everything in this world has positive and negative attributes to itself. Although I find HR to be a really challenging department but it too has some flipsides. I have not worked for long, but I have gained tremendous amount of exposure in my 1 year of employment. As I was the sole person responsible for HR activities for a particular project, I realized I had a lot of PR related work. The higher management would arrive at some decision and would want HR to inform about it to the rest of the team, specially when it is not in favour of the employee. I have personally experienced that the management uses HR for all the evil works of the company. They not only make HR exploit employees to their last sweat but also when required HR is used to inform the employee about managements decisions that are not in favour of them, be it firing/ low hike/ warnings, etc. This might not be the case in good corporates but in India there are many small companies where HR does not have basic powers, in such companies HR becomes the evil puppet for the higher management.
    More than that, the kind of work that the HR does, [A]Policy formation and implementation: HR has a major role to play. As the policies are made with consent of the management and are generally in favour of the same but is routed to the employees through HR.HR is hence percieved to be bad.
    [B]PMS: No one in this world is satisfied with what he/ she gets. After PMS when the employees get there final letters of salary hikes from HR, HR generally has to take the blow by making all unsatisfied employees understand the reason for their low hikes. This is mainly because the HR is percieved to be solely responsible for the process.
    [C]Salary processing and leave management: HR has to follow the rule book. Even if any employee is in grave need of leaves and his account shows zero leave balance, it is percieved that HR is the only one who can make them have more leaves, where as that is not the case. HR has to abide by certain rules. As the bad news is delivered by HR, HR becomes evil.
    [D]Retrenchment: Another process where HR plays an evil role is Firing employees. All letters are issued by the HR. It is a big challenge to fire a good employee by telling him that his work has got over while still letting another a little better employee with the same job profile and experience stay. When firing starts in a bigger swing, maintaining the working environment healthy and insecurity free is an even bigger challenge. Because at that time HR’s role is percieved to be limited to only firing employees.

    Moreover HR is a backend job where even if HR works its rear side off for the benefit of the employee, the employee feels that the final decision was made by the management as they have the final powers but if the management takes a decision that is not in favour of the employee then for the employees HR had not been persuasive enough to get the right decisions taken.

    These are few of the evil roles played by me in the company, but everytime I was made to wash dirty linen I was reminded of my ex boss who always said ‘HR is a thankless job’

  • Sakshi says:

    Well, I too am a part of HR and i really don’t feel that HR is ineffective or that anything is wrong with HR. in fact i believe that day by day HR is getting new dimension. HR is now also acting as a Business partner. The myth that HR operates from behind the curtain has changed altogether.It depends on who takes the leadership role in the department. HR is the base from where the various ideas and minds are recruited and even the dead woods are separated through HR only. In short HR is the department who acts like a mother who believes in giving and expects nothing in return except cooperation!!!!!!!

  • Thiru says:

    Hi Friends,

    Very interesting topic on discussion. I always believe in how we manage to convince both the Management and employees are very important for us. Sometimes based on the situation we may need to take immediate decisions or postpone the decision. But we our decision should be in a metured way.

    This is my feelings.



  • Edem Kodjo says:

    HR’s are the employers tools for manipulating the employee. They are recruited as smokescreens to do the dirty work of recruiting and keeping employees on pittance salaries and firing them when they have overworked them.

  • sally says:

    well guys though i dont hav much idea abt hr practically but i think HR is the base for any organisation because it helps in appending new people with new ideas and innovation,and it also helps in retaining the employees by making them mre satisfied and improve their performance in order to sustain in the long run.As every department has its own duties and responsibilities so watever duties the HR does its because they have to follow each and every strategy of the organisation for the betterment of all.


  • venkatesh says:

    Am a student of human resource management of sathyabhama. The comments are interesting as they are flabagasting!

  • venkatesh says:

    Am a student of sathyabhama persuing. The comments are interesting as they are fentastic

  • Rahimullah says:

    I think the procedure will be so useful to find out our weaknisses and do the best justic in any issue.

  • Dear Amit, this is indeed a very impresive debate,as Human Resouce Managers, we are like the meat in the pie and the bridge between the Employees and the employers but how often do we balance our roles to ensure that the employees are happy with their jobs rather we always want to be on the side of our employers and throw our conscince to the trash bin. We have often demonstrate lack of will power in correcting the wrongs but still maintain our bottom position in hyrachical preference. We must change the Man in the mirror. Thanks

  • Amit Bhagria says:

    Hi Simeon,

    Your are right that we as HR Professionals must act like a bridge between the employees and the employers and work for the betterment for both of them. But yes your are also right that sometimes we HR professionals like to be on the employers side, may be because of low conviction in acting like a whistleblower. We need to learn to put our put forward and align ourselves with both the involved parties.

  • paras hr says:

    any new product when being launched ,its advisement and positioning strategy determines the fate of the new product..similarly, how we as HR publicise our work and how we position our services determines the role of HR as change agent or mere support function. there is noting wrong in hr , it depends on our proactive ness or. reactive approach..
    as hr always b on a sensing mode ,read the pulses of ur employees , align them with org objective..make people always link with larger purpose and give them freedome and meaning in their work..your org will be a stronger.
    love your job and justify your position in org.u will be valued.

  • Sayali says:

    Well this was quite interesting…HR talking about HR flaws, but to be honest since we have to deal with ‘PEOPLE’, as there is nothing predetermined about human nature & human behavior our responses/solutions to the situations are always different, we have to be good for good employees, I mean,have to work in their interest and have to be bad with those who are difficult in the context of organization’s culture…But someone has rightly said its always interesting to work with live things i.e. human brains…

  • my friends

    h r is either high risk or high relief.
    decide for yourself what want it to be and make your moves accordingly.
    but one thing its human beings we deal with who are so dynamic and unpredictable its fun dealing with them. its either so difficult to deal or so easy . only one needs to read the pulse.

    all the best

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