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I Hate People!

hr leadership Feb 28, 2024

How often, as an HR Leader, have you said that you hate people?

I mean, I lost count during my in-house days.

And of course, I don't actually hate people, but after the thousandth interruption of the day, you do start to wonder why some people do really stupid things.

I've always believed that nobody gets up in the morning and decides, today I'm going to be an utter d*!k at work, and yet every day, we see and hear of people doing just that.

Like the couple who were having an affair and decided that the storeroom would be a great place to 'get it on'.

Or the other couple who were having an affair, and replied all in an email chain with some extremely private pictures.

The driver who refused to mention the 37 parking tickets he'd gotten in a week.

The woman who didn't think anyone would notice the money she was stealing.

The IT Director who was selling out of hours IT support to help people hide their search history, and this is quite literally just the tip of the iceberg.

Or the guy who was relieving himself outside of a customer's home whilst she was getting dressed upstairs!

My faith in people though, in the hope that they would one day come to work, to work, do a great job, and then go home to their life and have an amazing evening with family or friends, still remains.

I do believe in the good in people - even though they can do stupid things.

So I don't hate people, but I've said it ten thousand times, in the confines of my office, with my team in a light-hearted way, so I can get on with work before the next interruption.

We're not allowed to call people interruptions though, are we?

Not when we work in HR.

Because as everyone tells us, repeatedly, people are our job.

Except for the most part, if it were actually about people, we'd spend a lot more time with people, speaking to them, listening to them, understanding them and their needs and wants, and creating a better place to work, for them.

In reality, a lot of the HR role is drowning in paperwork, emails, and broken systems, dealing with complaints and concerns, in meeting rooms, writing or rewriting policies, and trying to get answers for things we've chasing for ages.

And I didn't sign up for that, I'm sure you didn't either.

I deliver a lot of talks to HR students and leaders, and repeatedly I hear that they went into, or want to go into HR because it's about people. 

And it should be. 

But a lot of the time it's just about paperwork and processes, so it's no surprise that we are branded as the policy police and the people who don't care about people.

And it's hard isn't it, to be constantly called a cost centre, the team who don't care, the ones who are blamed for so many of the decisions in the organisation, and whilst you know deep down that what you are doing is for the good of the people, you can very quickly lose sight of that whilst you're surrounded by so much noise, getting no work done, in back to back endless and often pointless meetings, and so far removed form the people in the organisation that it's no wonder 'a meeting with HR' sounds like a threat.

I used to run engagement workshops with small groups of our people, I'd ask them just five questions over tea and cake, start conversations, ask them to open up, and then fix their issues and celebrate their wins as quickly as possible after the meetings, but it took months for the 'fear of HR' to subside.

The panic about 'another one of those HR meetings' would filter across the business every time an invitation was sent.

People didn't trust me, this newly appointed HRD, for no other reason that I was HR. 

What did HR want to speak to them about?

Was I just speaking to them to decide who to fire?

Was I working out which teams I could cut?

Was I singling out troublemakers?

Or was I looking for intel on their manager to exit them instead?

I wanted to build relationships with people. 

I wanted to listen, I wanted to know what was frustrating them and do what I could to fix things and make the world of work better for them.

When the changes from these meetings were implemented and the positive changes started to make a difference, trust slowly began to increase, and people wanted to come and share their views and be heard and seen, knowing that change was happening.

And then, an organisational transformation was announced - it was all my fault apparently, and the only reason I'd wanted to meet with people in the first place.

Caring about people, wanting to make a difference, and changing the world of work for the better, shouldn't be seen as a threat, or the thing that HR does when they want to exit you from the business - it should be part of the HR DNA.

And yet it isn't, because, for many of us, we're seen as the People Haters, not the People People, and that in itself is taking its toll on you and your teams.

We need to redefine the role of HR, improve the reputation, and get back to what we're here to do - change the world of work for the better - instead of being seen as the ones who don't care about people at all, when often, we're the only ones who do.



My hunch is that someone you trust mentioned my name, or you stumbled upon one of my videos, podcasts, or articles online. 

Whatever path you took, I’m really glad you’re here. 

I'm the Executive Coach for Senior HR Leaders at

Clients work with me to help them regain control of their busy lives so they have more time and energy for the things that matter.

If that sounds like you, I'd love for us to talk.

This post was posted on on 28th February 2024


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