Human Resources blind-sided
I know I’ve written about this a zillion times at the least – but based on something I observed recently, I feel compelled to write about it again.
Psychological research indicates that the first person heard in a dispute is most often the one believed. If someone makes an accusation there is the presumption of guilt. We see this in the criminal justice system all the time. Jurors report that they start with a presumption of guilt because they believe the case would not have come to trial if the defendant were not guilty.
In the business world, an allegation – a complaint – is made to HR. Without interviewing the person being accused, or bringing the protagonists together, HR accepts the allegation as true and then either looks for evidence to prove it (rejecting evidence that might disprove it) or just merely accepts that it is true and punishes the person having been accused.
Guilty – without due process. Guilty – without being able to confront the accuser. Guilty – without having the opportunity to tell his/her side of the story.
HR pretends that it is protecting “confidentiality” by not disclosing the accuser, the circumstances of the allegation, or any other facts that might help the defense. HR pretends it is protecting “confidentiality by not attempting to bring the parties together to mediate the dispute.
HR is not judge nor jury – it just thinks it is.
HR is not a qualified investigating body – it just thinks it is.
When training HR professionals in the corporate/government world and when teaching budding HR professionals studying for their MBA degrees, I emphasize the importance of neutrality and teach how to go about interviewing, investigating, mediating, concluding, etc.