Conflicts with HR

Modern solutions in a latent conflict environment

Specialists departments and HR are often at odds with each other.

While in many organisations, this is accepted, a hierarchy is established in others. HR is considered a necessary evil, but the professional and managerial staff set the tone. This aspect often leads to decisions that are far away from scientific evidence. Acting this way is not a path to sustainable success for any organisation.

Photo by Nikhita Singhal on Unsplash

How can the tension between professional/managerial staff and HR be successfully resolved or managed?

The reputation of HR

The reputation of the HR department in the organisation is usually neither overly positive nor is this department voluntarily involved in processes. HR is often accused of being too process-oriented and not results-oriented enough. In addition, there is the perception of a lack of knowledge about daily business. However, this view is very one-sided. As soon as HR asks to be involved in the business, which is almost mandatory for many measures, the feedback is that there is not enough time to do so. While open-door policies are often advertised, the reality is often far away from it. You cannot complain about HR, but at the same time not involve them in the business process. If HR openly shows disinterest in the business process and does not show any proactivity, this justified criticism should be communicated promptly to improve the situation. Always remember: HR professionals, just like professionals and managers, work for professional salaries. If you invest low amounts, you will not be able to hire professionals.

Cooperation & Collaboration

P&MS need a regular exchange with HR. The often-scheduled annual meetings are too infrequent for doing so. An exchange should take place quarterly or, better monthly. Here it is important to inform each other about the news since the last meeting and to give an outlook on what is expected of the other participants. Such a productive and proactive exchange prevents alienation between the departments from happening. Pure cooperation based on, e.g. recruiting and seminar requirements are no longer enough. What is needed is genuine collaboration and integration into the actual processes of day-to-day business. This action is the only way to ensure that a collaborative model of success is created.


Allowing each other time for collaboration is essential but often fails because of the realities of everyday work. This aspect should not be accepted; otherwise, the rifts you may have previously been working on will quickly emerge. The keyword is Managing Expectations. The term has already found its way even into German-speaking areas. If you proactively manage expectations from both sides, thus also pointing out possible unavailabilities, restrictions, and other limits, more understanding of the situation of the other will arise on both sides. You can also announce which information, innovations and benefits you will provide for the other side. Such communication ensures a much better understanding on both sides. It is now up to you to start implementing it promptly.

More on the topic of communication between professional/managerial and HR staff in this week’s podcast: click here to listen and learn.

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Niels Brabandt

Niels Brabandt


Niels Brabandt is in business since 1998. Helping managers to become better leaders by mastering the concept of Sustainable Leadership. Based in Spain & London.