HR Leaders: 8 Reasons Why Your HR Team May Secretly Hate You — And What To Do About It!

by Alan Collins

If you’re an HR leader, there’s a slight possibility that some key members of your team may secretly despise you.

And it may be entirely your fault.

But, because you’re the boss and your people like getting paid, they won’t tell you.

However, here’s how you can find out for sure…

Just e-mail this article to your team members and ask them to circle any of the items list below that apply to you.

Then ask them to drop it back in your office.


That’s all you need to do.

But, before you take that step, take a few minutes and run through all these items yourself first.  If some of these resonate, save yourself some time and just rectify them.

A personal confession:  I’ve been guilty of a lot of the actions on this list myself.  Fortunately, I’ve had some incredibly talented folks around me help me work through many of them.

So, a lot of this is from my personal painful experience.

That said, here you go…eight reasons your HR team may hate your guts and what to do about it:  

Reason #1:
You’re indecisive
as hell.

Are you?
Not sure.
Don’t know.


Being an HR leader doesn’t give you permission to drive your team crazy with your incessant waffling or flip-flopping.

Sure, you’ve got a big job.  And it’s even tougher because addressing HR dilemmas or tough people issues isn’t an exact science.  But, being decisive and making these tough calls are why you get paid the bigger bucks.

Here’s the fix:  Step up.  Do something!  Your team is much more likely to follow a leader who makes decisions (even some bad ones) than a leader who makes no decisions at all.

Feel free to embrace the fact that in making the call that you might be making a mistake.  But protect yourself by first gathering the information you need, analyzing the alternatives…and then taking action and do something.

Recognize that you will never be 100% right all the time.

But if you ARE wrong, just fess up, then change the decision you’ve made.

And move on.  Life’s too short.

Reason #2:
You’re in your people’s
shorts too much.

You’re the classic micro-manager.

You know every stinkin’ detail of what they’re working on and you’ve become a control freak.

They have no room to make decisions on their own (which means yes, they’ll make a mistake or two).

Here’s the fix:  Back the hell off.  Give your folks some damn breathing room. Pick a few low risk projects and commit to not doing ANYTHING on them unless your team member asks you for assistance.  Yes, it might be uncomfortable for you.  But give it a try you micromanaging control freak.

Reason #3:
You don’t walk the talk
on work life balance.

You tell your staff that weekends are sacred and they should spend them with their family.

Then you bombard them with emails, voice mails or texts on Sunday afternoon and expect immediate responses.

Here’s the fix: Either curb your bad habit of not being in balance.  Or learn how to do a “delayed send” so your messages won’t go out until Monday morning.

Reason #4:
You treat everything
like a fire drill.

Everything is the #1 priority. You don’t permit anyone on your team to say “no” to clients or to low value work.

As a result, your team has no room on their plates when the time comes to work on that critical strategic HR initiative.  You know, the one just approved by the higher ups that will significantly move the company (and your team’s reputation) forward.

Here’s the fix:  Prioritize. Jot down all the tasks you have folks working on and FORCE yourself to assign an A, B or C priority to each task (and treat it as such).  Commit to have only 33% of all tasks in each of those three categories.  Simple fix.  Just do it.

Reason #5:
You don’t fight for
your team.

Okay, be honest. When is the last time you went to bat for one of your HR staff members?

And I mean really went to bat where you had something to lose if it didn’t work out?

If you have trouble coming up with an example, you’ve got a HUGE problem.

When you don’t stand up for them, you lose their trust.

Here’s the fix:  Grow some balls.  Identify something you should have gone to the mat for recently and get out there and fight.

Get that top performer on your team that long-overdue raise they deserve. Go fight to include one your staff members on that company-wide employee engagement task force that will elevate their career.  Defend them to your boss or their clients when they’ve made an honest HR screw-up.

Become the boss you’d like to have.

Reason #6:
You never relax.

You walk around like you’re on eggshells.

When you’re uptight all the time, it makes them uptight.

Your negative or stressful energy transfers to them.

Here’s the fix: Laugh. Have fun.

Keep toys in your office.

Provide candy at meetings.

Get a remote controlled car or tricycle to drive around the office.

Or put up funny art and change it when it gets stale.

When you relax, your team knows it’s okay for them to relax too.

Reason #7:
You’re a disgusting
little suck-up.


If the CHRO stopped abruptly while walking down the hall, you’d break your neck.

Your team secretly hates seeing you do this because it shows them that you’re a spineless jellyfish and aren’t willing to stand up for anything important.

It can also signal to them that you expect them to be a sycophant just like you.

The fix:  Challenge decisions are made by the higher ups that adversely affect your people. Your team expects you to protect them as best you can.

Occasionally that requires pushing back on those higher than you in food chain on behalf of your team.  Be careful how often and when you do it.  Always do it in private. And make it about the decision, not the decision maker.

Reason #8:
You treat them
like mushrooms.

That is you keep them in the dark and feed them a bunch of crap.  If you’re not sure if you’re guilty of this, then ask yourself:

If so, all you’re doing is creating gossip and fear.

Here’s the fix:  Stop acting like James Bond who treats information as if it’s for your eyes only and divulging it would put the security of the entire UK at risk.  The basic premise to follow here is that they know what you know.

Sure, some HR-related issues are confidential and can’t be shared (mergers, compensation decisions, impending layoffs) but the vast majority of things can be shared with your team.

The more context you provide your folks, the more effectively they’ll perform.  It will keep them from wasting time gossiping about what’s going on and filling their information void with poisonous information.

Sharing information with your team shows them that you trust them and are shooting straight with them. When trust flows from you, it eventually flows back to you.

Yes, these are eight reasons why your team just might hate you. 

Do any of them fit?

Find out.

Then correct or curb your behaviors.


Trust me – you (and your team) will be a lot more productive and happier if you do.



Want to avoid even MORE painful hurdles and traps that stand in the way of your success as a new HR leader? Then check out:  THE NEW HR LEADER’S FIRST 100 DAYS: How To Start Strong, Hit The Ground Running & ACHIEVE SUCCESS FASTER As A New Human Resources Manager, Director and VP.  You can get more details HERE.

About the Author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of a variety of best selling HR books on career advancement including the New HR Leader’s First 100 Days.  He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.

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20 Responses to “HR Leaders: 8 Reasons Why Your HR Team May Secretly Hate You — And What To Do About It!”

  1. Jane Xu Says:


    it’s really an important summary for potential pitfall we may jump into in our daily HR work. Your summary helps me to improve my selfawareness for my daily management.

    Thanks for your contribution.

    I will assess for myself and improve if there’s anything I have got problem.


  2. Rattan Says:

    awasome article alan……..

  3. Patricia Says:

    Inspiring – Thanks for sharing!!!

  4. Christelle Says:

    Great honest article. I do feel that this applies to any manager in any environment though, not just HR. I experience problems with point 5 & 6 and need to do frequent self development in order to keep my focus regarding those points. Thank you for bringing it into focus again.

  5. Alexandra Says:

    This is so true! loved the metaphore of “mushrooms”..thx for sharing

  6. Patty Says:

    Great post Alan! So entertaining and spot on, I chuckled all the way through. I will definitely be sharing this article.

  7. Mark A. Griffin Says:

    This is one area that many HR Leaders suffer from- “You’re indecisive as hell.” Make decisions people! It is the one trait that drives others in the organization crazy, everyone else is driving for results and many HR folks are still stuck not making decisions. Take some risk, it is better to ask for forgiveness if you fail than to look weak to the whole company by dithering.

  8. Alita Says:

    Thanks for the reality check, Alan! Great article.

  9. Coral Says:

    A great article and self-awareness tool for HR Managers and a guide for newly appointed HR Managers. I think this article is a timely reminder to self evaluate and correct if need be.

  10. Adeel Khalid Says:

    I am definitely going to try this on my team. Great thing!

  11. Nicole Says:

    Great post Alan. Thanks for your insightful and straight talk points. Fantastic blog! I’ve benefited from reading your work over the years. Thanks!

  12. wilbroad Katema Says:

    Hi Alan, doing an introspective, you are sport on, on most of the points. this does not only apply to leaders in HR, but speads across all leaders!

  13. Jonaes Says:

    Great article. Thanks!!!

  14. Rich Says:

    Very interesting and thought provoking. It is a good gut check to ask where am I at and how do I get to where I want to be

  15. Pooja Kamath Says:


    The information in your article is right on!

  16. Catherine Kisekka Says:

    Spot on!

    Thank you for sharing.

  17. Harkirat Singh Says:

    Hi Alan, the article which you have published is really awesome.It will help me to cover the mistakes in HR team while to work with individuals .We are human beings to which we forget sometimes and gets hate of people when we rise problems for them.
    Harkirat Singh

  18. Linda Peterson Says:

    Excellent way for ANY leader to get a jump their next 360 OR save themselves from needing to replace their BEST contributors!

  19. Alan Says:

    Linda, thank you. Well said. Always value your comments and insights. Have a great weekend!

  20. Muhammad Tahir Says:

    Thank you Alan for the good summary