For most employees, the only time they deal with the human resources department is when they’re starting or leaving a job. But HR can do much more than orchestrate your comings and goings. HR representatives focus on selection, assessment, development, rewards, and communications. They are mediators as well as administrators.
Read on to learn how to use your HR department to its best potential:
Get a new job. Really! HR reps can help you along as you rise in the company. They look at your supervisor’s reviews of your work, but you should keep them updated about your career aspirations. Their opinion matters when it’s time for a promotion or layoff. And if you let them know that you got a new job somewhere else, they can use their resources to make sure the company has all of its positions covered. The HR rep may be able to move another person into your position, giving you valuable time to train them and pleasing your boss.
End unpleasantries. Does your boss ask you personal questions? Does he broadcast your personal information? Talk to your HR rep. He can help you set boundaries with him while making sure that there aren’t negative implications for your boss. By telling HR about uncomfortable situations, you’re more likely to hang onto your job if you end up needing to file a lawsuit. And if your boss is doing something wrong, the sooner HR knows about it, the faster that behavior will stop or he’ll be shown the door.
Motivate your employees. When you meet with your employee to discuss problems with their work, bring HR along. That way, your words won’t be misconstrued and HR can help you set guidelines for your employee to use as he improves his work. If things don’t work out, HR will be there to help you fire that person appropriately.
Save you from a lawsuit. If you get sued by a colleague, keeping close ties to HR is important even before the suit is filed. You need to make an effort to resolve the situation before anyone gets litigious, and regular meetings with your HR rep will ensure that your attempts to keep things from escalating are appropriately documented.
There is only one instance where you should be wary of going to HR. If your HR representative is close with your manager and has shown that he won’t make decisions that negatively affect the manager when necessary, your HR rep probably won’t help you reach any of the goals above. In that case, consider finding a new job. If a mediator like HR can’t do his job, then how are you expected to do yours when faced with problems that need to be solved.
Joel Myers, What Does HR Do? The Centre Group.
Amy Levin-Epstein, 6 Surprising Ways That Human Resources Can Help Your Career. CBS Moneywatch.