Sometimes HR Sucks-That’s Why We Love It!

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    If you are an HR professional, you have most likely had a few tough conversations with employees. Early in my career, my supervisor would always call on the days when I had to have a particularly difficult conversation with an employee. He would always start the conversation with “tough day.” I knew that this was his way of asking me how it went. Now the “tough day” designation did not occur with every conversation that one might put in the difficult column. Personally, I don’t find matter of fact discussions about performance or the company’s decision to terminate difficult. Usually by the time one of those conversations takes place, every effort has been made to help the employee succeed and the conversation is simply an expression of a consequence that has been previously communicated.

    The “tough day” conversations for me are the ones that happen because we are in business and while it can be argued that HR folks are in the business of people, we are still in business. This means that sometimes changes in the landscape of the business or the industry or just a natural disaster can totally change the business requiring swift actions and tough decisions. I recently had a “tough day.” I had to have one of those conversations with someone whose life will likely be altered due to no fault of their own. A necessary business decision was made and even though it was the absolute right decision, I still hated having to bear the news. Quite honestly, it’s the part of the job that sucks.

    But on that day, I didn’t have much time to dwell on how much it sucks. Immediately after the conversation (which required three or four different hats), I put on my recruiter hat and got busy selling. That was directly followed up by more hat changing as I put on the coaching hat, the benefits hat, the payroll hat, the unemployment hat, the legal hat, and then ended the day with the training and development hat. In was in that last few hours of the day, that I remembered what it is about HR that I love. It’s the hundred conversations I had that day. And while they ran the gamut in subject matter and emotion, they were business, people business. In the people business, you can’t avoid “tough days.”

    Next time you have a “tough day”, remember that it is part of the business and your role is to handle it with respect, honesty and candor.

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    Sheri Mazurek is a training and human resource professional with over 16 years of management experience, and is skilled in all areas of employee management and human resource functions, with a specialty in learning and development. She is available to help you with your Human Resources and Training needs on a contract basis. For more information send an email to or visit Follow me on twitter @Sherimaz.