How to Annoy Your HR Manager

HR Managers Share Their 10 Most Frustrating Situations

Fellow employee has annoyed the HR manager.
••• Letizia Le Fur / Getty Images

Would you like to really annoy your Human Resources manager? It's not difficult because HR managers are human. Yes, some of you don’t believe that, but they really are. Most are just like you—trying to do a good job, gain raises and promotions, make a difference in the world and at work and create satisfactory interpersonal relationships.

Some employees believe that HR managers just like to fire employees. While there may be a few unusually nasty HR people out there, most HR managers don’t consider firing people is even part of their job.

Want to annoy your HR manager? Seriously? You can engage in a variety of behaviors and actions you can take that will really light his or her fuse.

Here are ten of your favorite ways to annoy your HR manager—these were all contributed by real-life HR managers, often by multiple managers. Enjoy learning how to frustrate and annoy your HR staff.

Waiting Too Long to Involve HR

Wait until you want to fire an employee before coming to HR for help with performance improvement coaching, possible disciplinary action, and the documentation that must accompany all such actions prior to firing an employee. Often times, to make matters worse, the employee issues have been going on for months before the manager contacts HR. 

By the time your HR staff members find out about the problem, frequently no documentation exists, no performance improvement plan was created, and the employee action will take the additional time necessary to legally, ethically, and effectively fire an employee. This causes confusion, frustration, and annoyance for all.

Fail to Read and Respond Properly in a Timely Manner

Fail to read and respond to information regarding benefits or any other annual topic when the information/communication was provided via various formats—repeatedly—to appeal to all employees. Usually, specific instructions and deadlines for a response were also provided. Often HR summarized the details on a single page and spoke at a meeting about needing the forms returned by a specific deadline.

Then weeks or months later (when it's often too late to address the problem), employees come to HR saying, "I didn't know." or "Oh yeah, I got it but I didn't read it."

That's a pet peeve. HR managers do appreciate those who do read and respond ​and continue their efforts because it's the right thing to do.

Fail to Read the Instructions at All

A secondary peeve for HR occurs when employees come back to HR with the form and the instructions, and not having even tried to read it, they ask, "What is this about?" HR staff members truly appreciate employees who make the effort to read and respond—before coming and demanding your HR manager's time to tell you what the paper you didn't bother to read says.

Blame HR for Bad News and Decisions

When line managers need to provide bad news to an employee, and they blame the decision on HR. For example, “I proposed a higher salary increase for you, but you know HR, they disagreed. If you have problems with your increase, go talk to HR.” "I'm only telling you this because HR told me I had to."

Or, better yet, when the decision has been made to reorganize a department or a work unit with the manager a complete participant in all of the discussions from the start, blaming the changes on HR. The employees who were disadvantaged or dislike the changes are sent to HR to find out the rationale. (And, as an aside, what is wrong with a manager who fails to involve his or her staff in a reorganization discussion in the first place?)

Expecting Exceptions to Procedures

​​One sure-fire way to put an HR Manager in an awkward position is to present a close friend or relative as the "perfect" candidate for a position and to then become indignant when the HR manager requires that normal hiring filters and protocols must occur.

The manager annoys the HR manager by failing to understand the nature of a hiring system in which the same steps must be followed for every potential employee. This avoids the appearance of any form of discrimination.

Another example occurs when employees try to get your organization to hire their friend by using an upper-level contact at the company to try and bypass HR with their rules and procedures.

Giving Your HR Manager the Tough Tasks

You can annoy your HR manager by letting HR do the hard tasks as in, "I'll ring the successful candidate to let her know the good news. Get HR to ring the unsuccessful candidates."

Or, "Hey HR manager, I know you have little idea about how to assess the qualifications of various candidates for a technical role, but I need you to do the pre-screening interviews. I'll show up to talk to the finalists."

Failing to Keep Personnel Information Up-to-Date

HR managers are really annoyed when employees fail to update their expression of wish form for their pension and death in service benefits or update their personal details regarding beneficiaries' addresses. Unfortunately, career HR managers have all had to deal with 9 or 10 situations in which a staff member has died, and in spite of repeated requests from HR, had not updated the form or details.

Most of them had been married or in partnerships two or three times and had children with their different partners. It caused a lot of problems trying to find people, trying to help the pension trustees to unravel their arrangements, manage the competing demands of those who thought they should benefit from the money, and so on.

Playing the Role of Tattletale

A difference exists between a concerned employee informant and a tattletale. ​HR struggles with the tattletales who feel a need to report every perceived unfairness and wrong action to HR. The challenge is to train these individuals—the frequent tattletales—who, rather than taking responsibility to try to resolve the problem themselves, come to HR for a quick fix. They expect the HR manager to quickly solve the problem—even if the problem exists only in their mind.

Expecting HR to Clean Up Your Messes

You can annoy your HR manager by passing the ball to HR if there is a critical decision needed regarding employee discipline or other relations, finding fault with HR after over-ruling HR instructions, and falsifying HR policies and making a mess in the organization and then, returning to HR to resolve the problem.

Worse? When you created the errors, mistakenly interpreted the company policy, overruled HR decisions or recommendations, and more, but you expect your HR manager to set the employee straight while making you look good and credible.

Not Involving HR in Planning Decisions

Senior managers can annoy their HR managers by failing to involve them in important planning meetings and discussions. "Now that we have made this monumental strategic decision that we spent weeks developing, we'll just run it by HR to check for any people issues."

In a second example, when HR is blamed for issues they don't control or are uninvolved in—depending on the organization, they may not even realize a problem exists. "Sickness rates are up? What the heck is HR doing about it?" Instead of informing and updating the HR manager on the situation, some employees just point their finger.

The Bottom Line

Hundreds of ways exist to annoy your HR manager. These are ten of the key ways that were shared by HR managers who find themselves challenged by certain employee behaviors. Now that you are aware of these annoyances, please do your level best to make your HR manager's day.