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When HR has been wronged, who can HR complain to?

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in Human Resources,People Management,The HR Specialist Forum

As our company’s only HR staff person, I’m in an awkward situation. My immediate supervisor reprimanded me for the way I handled a recent change in our working hours. Employees were confused, so I sent e-mails to various managers seeking the correct information. That exposed some serious disagreements between the managers and executives about the new hours. My boss said I should not have been so public about it, and then wrote me up for this alleged “infraction.” I think I handled it correctly and want the reprimand removed from my file. What should I do? I’m afraid the company president will take my supervisor’s side.—No name, no location (because I need this job)

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

DrStillStanding November 18, 2009 at 3:49 am

I hope this is not too late “No Name/No Location”. However; when I read this I knew I had to post as a Human Resources professional.

(1) Make sure you have all of your facts together (and it sounds like you do) and rewrite it in “bullet points” what happened.

(2) Make sure you start from the beginning to the end. Be specific and detailed! (You will probably only have ONE chance to meet with the CEO and your boss.)

(3) Make sure the tone in your writing and speech, is non-defensive and professional. (You can become angry or upset later, this is definitely NOT the time!) Smile! :)

(4) Ask for an appointment in writing (e-mail/fax/letter) to meet with your immediate supervisor and the CEO. Offer two or three different dates/times (if you use Outlook, they can accept directly on your calendar). Allow one hour for the meeting. You want to have time to present your facts and allow for questions/answers. *NOTE: prepare for only up to 30 minutes worth of presentation, you want to allow plenty of time for questions/answers. You do NOT want to hear, “Molly, you bring up some excellent points, however; the hour you had planned for your meeting has elapsed and we must reconvene in two weeks! We’ll get back with you then.” Nope! That’s not what you want to hear! SMILE!

(5) During the meeting, which should probably be face-to-face, have 5 copies of the document you are going to talk about available. Type this document up and use large fonts 12, 14, to make it easy to read. Be detailed but succinct. Hand one to the CEO and your supervisor. Trust me on this one team, have 3-6 extra copies, as there may be other people that have been invited by the CEO to attend the meeting (i.e. legal department, ethics department, union leader, management members, etc.)

(6) During the meeting ask for clarification about your “error”. And also ask what polices, corporate procedures, and/or alternative approaches would be considered “best practices” moving forward. When a mistake has been made, it’s okay to ask for clarification and how to proceed moving forward. It’s not necessarily an admission of guilt on your part.

(7) Be specific about why you feel the coaching should be removed from your file. (i.e. “I feel a verbal discussion would have sufficed, in lieu of a formal written coaching; which shall stay in my personnel file for one year or forever”).

(8) Be prepared to accept that nothing may actually change.
(8a) Be prepared that the CEO may actually feel this meeting is a “waste” of his/her time, and may not fully participate in the meeting. (It’s a possibility, I have seen it several times, unfortunately.) The CEO may actually NOT show up at the meeting and/or send someone else—-BE PREAPRED. Also be prepared for a short, cold, curt, insensitive TONE from the CEO, other staff members, and /or your immediate supervisor. Sometimes people get really “defensive” when attending these types of meetings at the employee’s request? (Personally, I am NEVER defensive during any meeting, if I have done the right things, have nothing to hide, why in the world would I be defensive? It makes you wonder sometimes about others clandestine behaviors???)

(9) Be prepared that your boss could actually become more hostile and/or cold toward you. (This is so sad to write, as we are all HR professionals and we all deal with the same mess, as NON-HR people!)

(10) Another option is you could let the coaching stay on your record and say nothing. However; you have to set yourself in agreement that you would not harbor any ill feelings toward yourself, your boss, or the company????

There are no clear-cut-cookie-cutter types of answers here, NoNameNoLcation. I am just throwing stuff out there as possible options. :(

Dr. StillStanding :)

*There is ALWAYS an option and/or recourse. However; one must ask “is it worth it, what will the outcome be, and can I move forward?”

Hang in the NoLocation/NoName! :)


NLN October 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm

I fully agree with ntx that you should bring your reasons for doing what you did to the attention of the president. Next time, however, I would seek the “advice” of your supervisor before proceeding, because it is possible/probable he/she would have handled the matter differently. If his/her approach does not work as he expects, it will show that you at least gave it your best effort and complied with their :wishes”. Good Luck


ntx October 27, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Wow, NNNL, that’s a nightmare. I hate to say it, but I think your only recourse is to go to your boss and make your case as forcefully and clearly as you can. Maybe you need to have the president there too. Don’t be defensive, because it doesn’t sound like he is particularly concerned about how you feel about this. Spell out why you did what you did and explain the circumstances that made you think this was the right way to go. Try to anticipate where he will try to shoot you down and have some answers ready. Who knows if this will work, but I think it’s your only chance.


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