It was years before I realized that HR is pretty much a no-win job – and can be very stressful. If you side with the management OR the employee, somebody is not going to be happy. And, if you work for a jerk (use your own definition), it makes the job even more stressful. I used to spend nights and weekends trying to come up with a good resolution to a sticky problem only to have the boss shoot it down. Then, I’d spend more nights and weekends trying to come up with a new approach. Only to experience the same result.
So here’s a little secret to less stress, better sleep, and fewer hours. Realize that your job as as an HR professional is to advise, suggest, and recommend. If your boss can’t understand why it’s not a good idea to discriminate, let it be. If your boss can’t understand why it’s not a good idea to pay the Receptionist a salary (and no overtime), let it be. If your boss can’t understand the basics of treating people with respect, let it be.
DO provide counseling, advice, case studies, recommendations, and try your best to convince the idiot that it’s simply not a smart decision. Once done, relax, take a few deep breaths, go home before 6:30pm and don’t take any work home with you. You’ve done your job! If the boss wants to be stupid, so be it. If your conscience is clear, if you’ve done your very best to make it right, then let it be. Look at yourself in the mirror and smile. Give your spouse a hug. Take your kids out for ice cream.
One very important point – when the sh@# hits the fan and the idiot/boss is pointing the finger at HR, don’t hesitate to push back . Let the idiot know (as politely as you can) than you did your best to help them avoid getting splattered. And, once you’ve done this a couple times, the marginally stupid managers might come around before they pull another illegal, immoral, or unethical stunt. Just maybe they will begin to listen. Just maybe.
After all, a high percentage of stupid idiots just never figure it out. Sleep well – you’ve done your job.