5 Things Your HR Manager is NOT

AUG 30, 2019 | Dr. Gia Wiggins, SPHR, SHRM-SCP - President, Morale Resources

At the risk of sounding like an HR snob, I must admit I’ve had this conversation multiple times in the last few weeks. After working in human resources for 21 years, I thought I had it all figured out 19 years ago. I knew how to recruit, answer employee questions, and help employees enroll in their benefits.  Since then I’ve learned something very important. HR is 50% employment law, 40% knowing how to apply it to situations that happen in the organization, and 10% what everyone assumesHR does. HR professionals across the country are strategic partners that make the many facets of human capital management look easy. I can go on all day about what we do to make your business run smoothly, but today I think it may be more beneficial to tell you what we are not.



1.    Not a Cheerleader

Yes, we can cheer louder than anyone and could probably always win the corporate spirit stick, but our job is not corporate cheerleader. An HR professional needs to be able to deliver bad and difficult news with the precision of a surgeon. "Tom, I understand that you would like to fire the entire department, but I think it’s best that we set up a training session to address the areas the team is unfamiliar with that caused the epic failure”. Pom poms are not the right tool when a drill is required.

Luthans, 2002 said "Catch an employee doing something good and reward them instead of catching them doing something bad and punishing”. I strongly believe in leading cheers when we recognize great performance, but non-performance must be dealt with just as quickly- well quicker.

2.    Not Customer Service

It is on mission for HR professionals to resolve issues for employees and managers during the course of the business day. Distractions will need to be resolved so our employees can concentrate on the work at hand. If an issue needs to be addressed bring it on! If the issue keeps arising because the policy is not being followed or management/owners are ignoring the basic needs of the employees—THEN we have a problem.

We want to take the worries of accurate pay, affordable benefits, and fair treatment off the shoulders of those in our charge. However, HR can be of better service if we can resolve issues before they become problematic. Proactive HR leadership anticipates the needs of the team and address the need BEFORE it becomes a problem. Work with your HR professional on an early detection plan so the most of their day does not consist of forcing a smile while being screamed at about problems that could have been resolved a lot sooner.

3.    Not the HR Police

I loved watching Law and Order SVU earlier in my career and relished the scenes where Elliot would play good cop and Olivia the bad cop. Over the years I recognized that was the role managers wanted us to play when dealing with employee issues. "Okay Gia, I am going to show them compassion, then you tell them that we are going to fire them if it happens one more time!” I played this role so frequently and well that employees would be afraid when I showed up at a field location before 7 a.m. I would spend the next few hours promising them that no one was going to be fired that day.

Being the HR police, the bringer of bad news, and the crusher of dreams is not what anyone would like to be known for. Instead, I enjoy being the solution finder, a partner in engagement, and the compliance advocate. We can all win without anyone acting as the hater of happiness.


We are an organization’s best friend, a liaison between the leadership and employees, and an advocate for a healthy, thriving and safe workplace. A human resource professional provides a unique mix of employment law, organizational psychology, and strategy. Help us to strip away our labels so we can help you transform the workforce.

Morale Resource specializes in building and repairing HR departments.