Don’t Tell HR

It’s the end of party season. I happened to have our office event a few weeks back. Great people. Great time. We had a photo booth there. You know, the one with all of the props. Fake mustaches, glasses, thought bubbles with goofy sayings. Sayings like, “Meh,” “Employee of the month” and my own personal favorite, “Don’t tell HR.” Our profession takes a beating. There’re no constant jokes about other disciplines. Or at least not nearly as many as HR. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel like my approach to HR is ever “I don’t wanna know,” that it seems to annoy me so much? How do we stop the “Don’t tell HR” mentality? I believe its possible but it will take some work, my friends. Let’s get started!

Be the Person They Can Tell

Be a trusted resource to your organization’s employees. If they fear you or feel like they need to hide from you, something is not right. How can you possibly be effective for the business if that’s the case? You need to be reliable, trusted and not judgmental. Then people will tell you when something’s amiss because they know you’ll help them through it. Or maybe they won’t do something stupid because they know enough after having built a solid relationship with you about where is the line in the workplace and what’s ok versus taboo.

Assume the Best

Human beings (yes, the employees at your company are human beings) generally have good intentions. The person who totally screwed up that project did it because they were trying really hard to deliver for the team. The gal that missed the meeting overslept because she was up half of the night trying to prep for the presentation to begin with. I know that’s not always the case but can we at least try to come at challenging situations from this perspective at the start? Even if we find out it’s not actually the case.


Do your best in every aspect of your role so much so that the team knows you’ve got bigger and better things to worry about than policing them. You are kicking ass and taking names and moving the business forward. Do it and make it evident to your organization so they’ll never question what you’re up to or what you’re working on.

Kill Them with Kindness

There will be times in HR when you’ve got to be the bearer of less than stellar news. Don’t be happy about that. Share those messages in the kindest way possible. Think it through. Tap into that emotional intelligence and ease the burden a little.

These things are only a start. We’ve got years of resentment coming to us from all around. But we’ve got this. If we want, we can turn around the image of human resources into something amazing. Like most amazing things in life, it doesn’t come without a lot of hard work. I’m ready to get at it. Are you?


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Kelly Poulson

Kelly has spent her career helping people kick ass and become better versions of themselves. Coaching, training, recruiting – you name it, she’s done it, and in a variety of industries ranging from advertising to behavioral health to tourism and beyond. Be it supporting new managers in their journeys from uncertain supervisors to rock star bosses, helping lost newbies zero in on what they want from their careers and find their inner confidence to ask for (and receive) that promotion, or enabling leaders to be more self-aware in their management styles and more skillfully interact with those around them, she’s done it all. Outside of pushing to make people and organizations better, Kelly spends most of her time marathoning Netflix programming with her mutt, Dexter. Connect with Kelly.


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