abrasive hr manager

What is one thing an employee should do if their HR manager is abrasive?

For most employees, the Human Resources department is a source of support and help when struggling with something at the workplace. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for even the HR department to have rough days. After all, they’re human too. If you find yourself communicating with your HR rep and face aggression or a lack of empathy, you might be stumped on what your next steps should be. We reached out to experts in the field and gathered their tips on what to do if your HR manager is abrasive.

Here are 7 tips on how to deal with an abrasive HR manager:

  • Mirroring Tactic
  • Clear the Air Out With Honest Communication
  • Go Above Their Head
  • Request for a Private Face-to-face Meeting
  • Don’t Take their Behavior Personally
  • Take It Up Directly With the HR Manager
  • Keep Records of the Occurrences

What to do if your HR manager is abrasive

Mirroring Tactic

Mirroring is a tactic that can help employees deal with abrasive HR managers. The technique involves subtly repeating the last or most important part of a speaker’s sentiment back at them. The gesture can signal that the listener is sympathetic and agreeable to the speaker’s message, which can work to lower defenses and general prickliness. Plus, the repetition can make the HR manager more aware of their tone and phrasing, which can lead to the leader softening or rephrasing the sentiment.

Michael Alexis, TeamBuilding

Clear the Air Out With Honest Communication

Rather than sweeping the matter under the rug and enabling the HR manager further, a better strategy is being open and addressing the manner in a polite yet professional way. It could so be that the HR manager is unaware of their harsh tendencies and speaking to them about it could help them self-reflect. And even if they are aware, taking it up with them is a clear sign that an employee will not tolerate these interactions and could even escalate the issue with senior managers.

Riley Beam, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.

Go Above their Head

If you can’t feel comfortable or secure sharing information with your HR manager, who can you talk to? One of an HR manager’s job duties is to create a safe and secure environment where people feel comfortable bringing concerns and issues forward. They are supposed to foster positivity, cordiality, and transparency. In fact, it’s probably one of their greatest responsibilities. Thus, if your HR manager is abrasive and difficult to talk to, my best advice is to go right over their head. Even if that means going to the CHRO or COO, you need to make your voice heard and get the situation straightened out. Even HR managers have bosses.

There is absolutely no excuse for an HR manager to be abrasive, and surely their manager will want to know. There should be a system of checks and balances, where even HR is responsible to someone else, and by going over their head, you’re simply exercising your right to be hard and feel secure in your position.

John Ross, Test Prep Insight

Request for a Private Face-to-face Meeting

You will find it easier to confront the situation face to face rather than writing numerous letters to file your complaints about the HR manager. Sometimes the HRs are abrasive because they don’t understand the individuals they are dealing with. Therefore, this is a good way to address such differences. During such a physical meeting, point out your concerns about your HR’s approach, your desired behavior from them, and the consequences of them continuing with their abrasive style. This gives you the chance to share how their behavior impacts you and the workplace, so both sides can reach mutual understanding, and request that such abrasiveness should cease.

John Tian, Mobitrix

Don’t Take their Behavior Personally

Conflict is part and parcel of everyday life, and it’s a difficult situation to be in when your so-called trusted HR advisor is abrasive. Don’t take their behavior personally. It’s easy to have an emotional reaction when someone’s actions are not quite what you expect from them. The best response to abrasive behavior is to stay calm and respectful and avoid confrontation. You may not be able to control the way your HR manager interacts, but you can most certainly control your response. In my experience, abrasive people treat everyone in the same way, and it has nothing to do with you as a person.

Archie Payne, Caltek Staffing

Take It Up Directly With the HR Manager

If your HR manager displays abrasive behavior, a direct approach is the first thing to try. Often, all it takes for an offender to change their attitude towards you is an open conversation on how the behavior is inappropriate and why you wish it would change. Be firm yet polite, understanding yet assertive. Your manager mustn’t take the dialog as a show of weakness on your part. At the same time, since you are looking for a resolution and not a confrontation, it is also crucial that you take control of the conversation and lead it towards a solution.

Eva Taylor, WP Buffs

Keep Records of the Occurrences

If you ever find an HR manager being abrasive towards you, be sure you are keeping records of occurrences. Email trails and jotting down what was said, when it was said and what it was referring to, will help your case and will give HR incidents to refer to as they are completing their investigation.

Chandra Aiken, Easy Choice Recruiting

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