No, HR are Not Objective

But Judgement Can Be Objectified

People are never fully objective. In fact, there is no such thing as objectivity in human nature. We are all clouded by the filters that we have gathered along the way. And so it is. HR, much like judges and police officers, are among those, who have to strive for objectivity, nevertheless. But, how?

  1. Letting actions speak louder than personalities. The personality trap is real. The majority of people have been there: you like someone so much, you simply forgive them more than others. But it’s the wrong way to approach a colleague. Instead of relying on personalities, one should be observing actions. And not just a one-time case study, but the tendencies to act in certain ways. For example, someone may have a very loud personality, but, when it comes to getting things done, they go quiet. So, the attention should be on the “quiet” and not on the “loud”.

  2. Peeling the onion of truth(s). We’ve said it: there is no truth. But, there are layers to every truth which lead to the core piece of information. If one gets to the core of the truth, it is usually less personal and quite relatable. Therefore, it is easier to objectify. The task is then to keep asking open questions and to listen without judgement. For example, if someone feels they are underrated in the company, it is easy to fall into the trap of labelling them needy employees. However, instead one should have a conversation about the concept of appreciation. Who is most appreciated at work, anyway? Someone who has a personal office space? (S)he who works from home? Or someone who is free to make budgeting decisions? All of these are true (and false). Ask before you judge.

  3. Giving second chances to everyone. And third chances to no one. The more senior an employee, the more likely HR are to forgive. The logic is simple: the replacement cost is higher. However, in the long run, putting up with the wrong tendencies at work will only increase the cost of replacement (and not only). Whether to give someone a second chance or not, is not really a philosophical question. Mistakes should be forgiven. Negative tendencies should not be. So, the real question is, what tendencies are typical for an employee. Simplest way to find out is to put an employee in different circumstances and see if the behavior changes or not. It’s not so much about the results, as it is about actions. Ignore the outcomes (positive or negative) and focus on the behaviors. For example, if someone avoids taking responsibility with both new and old projects, with senior and junior colleagues, and under many other circumstances, they never will. No matter how many chances you give them.

Even though HR cannot be objective due to the simple reason for being humans, there are ways to objectify one’s judgement. Judging actions rather than personalities, judging motives rather than outcomes, and spotting the tendencies to act are some of the simplest means.

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