How to Annoy Your HR Manager

HR managers share their most frustrating situations

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

Human Resources 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 at work and create satisfactory interpersonal relationships.

Some readers claim 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 their job.

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

Take These Actions to Annoy Your HR Manager

Here are your favorite ways—these were all contributed by real-life HR managers. Enjoy.

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, the employee issues have been going on for months. 

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 to information regarding benefits or any other 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 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), employees come to HR saying, "I didn't know . . . " or "Oh yeah, I got it but I didn't read it." 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.

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 doing this because HR told me I had to............."

​​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.

Want More Ways to Annoy Your HR Manager?

Here are more ways to annoy your HR manager, in the words of contributing readers.

There is a difference between a concerned informant and a tattletale. ​HR struggles with the tattletales who feel a need to report every perceived unfairness to HR. The challenge is to train these individuals—the frequent tattle tales, who, rather than taking responsibility and trying to resolve the problem themselves, they come to HR for a quick fix.

Now that we have made this monumental strategic decision that we spent weeks developing, just run it by HR to check for any people issues.

Let 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."

The three things that are most annoying: unqualified people applying for jobs, spouses trying to intervene on an employee's behalf if someone was fired or in trouble, and people trying to get you to hire their friend using an upper-level contact at the company and trying to bypass HR.

The things that used to really annoy HR managers were when employees did not update their expression of wish form for their pension and death in service benefits or update their personal details regarding beneficiaries' addresses. Unfortunately, HR managers have all had to deal with 9 or 10 situations in which a staff member had 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.

It was just a nightmare and all because people wouldn't update the form so to really annoy HR don't complete your expression of wish forms or update your personal details.

More Ways to Annoy Your HR Manager

These are additional ways that readers cited as top ways to annoy your HR manager.

  • Employees who turn required paperwork in late.
  • Managers who tell employees: "I'm only doing this because HR has told me to..."
  • "Sickness rates are up? What the hell is HR doing about it?"
  • Hate equal opportunities monitoring, a typical HR jobs worth mindset.
  • 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.
  • Giving out information/communication and having employees come back to you with the form and say "what is this about" when they didn't even make an attempt to read about it. It is so difficult to be patient in those situations, however, well worth the effort to remain patient.
  • Distributing information regarding benefits, communication via various formats (to appeal to all), giving specific instructions and deadlines if a response is required, confined to a single page's worth of information as much as possible. Then, weeks or even months later (when it's too late), the employees come and say, "I didn't know..." or "Oh yeah, I got it but I didn't read it."That's a pet peeve. HRmanagers do appreciate those who do read and respond ​and continue their efforts because it's the right thing to do.
  • When line managers have to give bad news to their staff and say, for example, "I ranked you/proposed a higher increment for you, but you know, HR, they... If you've got problems, please ask HR."