How to Handle a Rude HR Person
There is no room for rudeness in business – not from employees, not from management and especially not from human resources, the people charged with managing the “human” aspect of the business and helping set the tone of the corporate culture. Everybody has a bad day now and then, but if surly behavior on the part of someone from HR is the rule rather than the exception, it’s time for you to take action, regardless of your position in the organization. All employees should expect to be treated with dignity and respect, and it is management’s role to reinforce that expectation.
Create a corporate culture that respects and values every individual, including employees, customers, vendors and anyone else who interacts with the company. Establish and communicate policies regarding customer service, ethics and workplace harassment to reinforce the value of respect for the individual and set parameters for acceptable behavior.
Appoint an ombudsman, an employee or other third party trained in dealing with confidential or sensitive issues, to help employees report behavior contrary to company policy. The ombudsman is also an option for employees who may be uncomfortable discussing an issue with their managers, such as this example of a complaint against HR or in other situations where the manager might be the problem.
Treat seriously any complaint that conflicts with company policy. If someone complains to you about rudeness on the part of HR, bring it to the attention of the head of the HR department, provided she is not the alleged offender or implicated in the complaint. If the HR director is unable to handle the situation objectively, have the ombudsman or a third party, such as the company attorney or professional mediator, discuss the problem with both the alleged offender and the person lodging the complaint to get both sides of the story and arrive at the facts.
Meet with the HR person to discuss the situation and offer feedback. She may not be aware that her behavior was perceived as rude, or there may be something going on in her personal life that is affecting her behavior. Reinforce the company policy that all people must be treated with dignity and respect. Point out that, as an HR representative, she is expected to uphold and model that behavior. Model that behavior as well by being patient and compassionate. If the HR employee is going through some personal problems, suggest counseling or a support network to help her work through those issues.
Work with the HR person to establish performance goals for improving interactions with employees. Make the goals specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented and time-bound, also called SMART goals. Identify training in customer service and conflict resolution to strengthen those skills.
Monitor her performance every three months to measure improvement. If all your efforts have failed and you determine the employee is unable or unwilling to change her behavior, terminate her employment with the company.