Click title to read all 10 mistakes
Approximate reading time 3 minutes

1) Menu based training
Mistake: Offering a whole raft of training programmes that look impressive to top management but are more PR than business focused.

Solution: especially in recessionary times development programmes need to stem from and be closely linked to current business goals.

2) Don’t do as we do, do as we say
Mistake: HR teams behave as a poor advertisement for team work while the members busily advocate to internal clients the benefits of team working.

Solution: Make sure the HR team models excellent team work and that enthusiasm for team working comes from the heart and personal local experience.

3) Tackling symptoms rather than causes
Mistake: Solutions are often advocated that seem to deal with a problem but in reality are either missing the point or there is insufficient analysis of why something undesirable is occurring. For example accepting a line manager’s demand for team building when actually the root cause of the problems he is concerned with stem from weak or misdirected team leadership.

Solution: do not take stated people problems at face value; be willing to dig down to uncover the real issue.

4) Ignoring the halo effect
Mistake: Typically occurs in situations when personal bias distorts how a person or a problem is seen and is often a blind spot of even experienced practitioners. In interviews it leads to viewing someone as better than they really are and results in poor recruitment practice.

Solution: Learn more about the nature of the halo effect through personal development and how to recognise it, and consciously watch out for it.

5) Neglecting to tackle poor performance
Mistake: HR people can be reluctant to insist that managers actively tackle poor performance within a credible time scale. Often the HR team knows that someone is not performing well yet feels relatively powerless to do much about it.

Solution: Once someone is known to be underperforming make sure this is tackled sooner rather than later and involves a coherent plan of action. Failure to tackle underperformance affects morale and top performers.

6) Saying “I do this work because I love working with people”
Mistake: Nothing marks you out more quickly as inexperienced or naive than using this phrase, yet people keep saying it! Shows you have a limited grasp of the big picture since so much of HR deals with processes, strategies, policies, concepts and methodology.

Solution: Talk instead of what a difference good HR can make in creating an effective organisation, how it can affect the bottom line and that is about creating a humane and high performance culture.

7) Accepting total responsibility for strategic change
Mistake: HR practitioners who try to take responsibility for strategic change rather than advocating, supporting or helping to steer it usually come a cropper. Few HR leaders have sufficient weight or authority to really see through a strategic shift—think of M&As or culture shifts.

Solution: Know your limitations, it is great to have a vision for the future but ultimately accountability for a strategic shift will need rest firmly with the top team as a whole.

8) Losing control of recruitment
Mistake: HR misses out of the hiring process because it is seen as essentially the line manager’s job. But this can lead to inequitable levels of employee compensation because hiring managers don’t understand where an employee fits in the company’s overall compensation structure.

Solution: Make sure HR is involved fully in ensuring that the right people are on the bus and there is a consistent and coherent recruiting process that avoids “Wild West” hiring.

9) HR without proper metrics
Mistake: Allowing HR to be judged mainly by what it is costing rather than showing clear metrics to demonstrate what it is delivering.

Solution: Make sure HR develops credible ways to show how its work links directly to the bottom line.

10) Leaving the legal issues to the lawyer
Mistake: HR practitioners within organisations often abandon keeping up with the ever changing law and do not see it as a strategic issue and best left to experts

Solution: Stay abreast with the latest changes or risk being at the mercy of lawyers and their adversarial view of the world. Employees are increasingly aware of their rights so why shouldn’t you know about these too?

What’s the worst HR mistake you feel that practitioners make? What is your solution? Disagree with this choice of the top 10. What’s yours then? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below!

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