Thanks to Suzanne Lucas (www.evilhrlady.org) for her as ever insightful observations on the people that exist in most organisations that HR simply loves to hate:
The Ambitious (Yet Incompetent) Ladder Climber: HR loves hard workers who want to climb the latter of success; we even develop special programmes for these people. What we dislike are people who aren't good at their jobs yet still think they should be climbing up, up and up. No amount of explaining that they need to succeed in their current position before they can be promoted seems to affect these people.
Tattletales: Yes if you are being sexually harassed or bullied please tell us, and as soon as possible. If you observe illegal behaviour of any kind. we'll make time to meet with you and quickly. If you co-worker comes in late however, we don't care. If your boss takes two hour lunches, just be glad that you're not being micromanaged during those two hours. Let managers manage their own people. If your co-worker coming in late is a problem, your manager will handle it, or they'll come to HR.
Special Snowflakes: These employees feel and behave like they aren't subject to the rules. Showing up on time? Forget it. Always on their phone? You bet. The worst thing about special snowflakes isn't the snowflakes themselves, but that their bosses allow the bad behaviour to continue. HR can't fire people directly (generally), they can only recommend it; it's up to managers to make the final decision. And managers who fall into the special snowflake category? You're the reason why we have so many lawsuits.
The No-Boundaries Employee (Type 1 - TMI): We know everything about this employee. From their toenail fungus to their marital issues, we know it all. Yes, if you need time off to deal with medical or personal issues, we'll help you with the paperwork, but we're not nurses or social workers. And please don't explain to me that your real problem is that you've never really liked sex. (Yes, this is a true story.)
The No-Boundaries Employee (Type 2 - Always Calling): It's 11pm on a Friday and this employee calls. Many people don't have separate mobile phones for work any more so it doesn't just go to an office voicemail. Phone calls from these employees are never emergencies. Although if your voicemail allows you to flag a question about tax payments as urgent, this employee will do that. Always.
The HR Hater: Yes, I totally know that lots of people hate HR, but most HR people do a great job at what we are supposed to do. It's not our fault that you got a small pay rise - your boss chose that rise based on the budget that finance gave to them. We're not trying to cause death by paperwork - it's the Government that should be blamed for that. Stop telling us how much you hate us and maybe, just maybe, you'll be able to get whatever it is done and move on.
The Drama Queen or King (this isn't limited by gender): This person takes every small correction from their boss as a sign that they're about to be fired. A co-worker sneezes in their direction and the co-worker is purposely trying to bring the plague into the office. Someone taking up two parking spaces did it not because of bad parking skills but to make this employee walk further. Please leave the drama at home.
The That's Not My Job Employee: Yes, it's true that some job descriptions specifically spell out what you can and cannot do. Fine, stick to that. But if you're under such a rigid job description, remember that 'other duties as required' part of the job description? That's what this means. Yes that means that you have to help Jane out on her quarter-end reports and it can even mean that when some kid throws up in the lobby that you can be asked to clean it up. There are times when you can use, 'I'm doing many things that aren't my job. Can we re-evaluate my position and make sure I'm focusing on my core job?' but little one-offs? Please just do them.
The Threat Maker: 'If you don't give me a pay rise I'm going to leave'. 'If you don't change my performance rating, I'm calling my lawyer'. Please leave. It will save us many headaches. And that performance rating? In a reputable company, that rating has been checked and double checked and it's accurate. Go ahead and call your lawyer (but don't call your brother-in-law the criminal defence solicitor, or that lawyer who helped you with your divorce. Get an employment lawyer who knows what they're talking about. Yes you can ask for a pay rise and you can protest your performance review but please, no threats.
The Unbelieving Employee: This has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with listening. The boss creates a formal performance improvement plan, signed off by HR and your boss's boss, yet when the goals aren't reached this employee is shocked (shocked!) that they're being fired. This employee is always knocking on HR's door to complain that a boss followed through and gave a consequence for repeated bad behaviour. 'Jane said that if I came in late one more time that she's take me off the schedule for a week!'. HR response: 'And did you come in late?'. 'Yes, but ...'