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The challenge of doing good work that you can’t shout about

If you’re fed up of HR being criticised by people who clearly have never been in the role, don’t read this article. Jeffrey Pfeffer measures HR by its failure to eliminate harassment.

Pfeffer identifies the conundrum correctly – whether to protect the company or let them, and the perpetrator, hang – but not the ultimate responsibility. It’s like blaming the doctor when you’re ill. That’s a useful analogy, because a good doctor helps you to adopt healthy habits. This is how HR continually fight harassment, day in and day out.

Of course HR will try to protect the company from reputational damage. They will also use the situation to influence the leaders and managers who have the power to tackle harassers at source.

HR’s actions tend to be invisible – that’s our real challenge. This brings us to the question of Reputation – one of our 7 HR Enablers. Pfeffer is right in that HR people have to not only do good, but be seen to do good. Maybe HR should shout ‘Alleluja, I just convinced someone that their behaviour is inappropriate – ring a bell!’

Hmm. There are also other ways for HR to build reputation, consciously, and to create opportunities to demonstrate the impact they’re having. We’d love to hear your thoughts on that – please leave a comment, or get in touch.


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