Periodically, we ask three HR pros how they’d handle a difficult situation at work. Today’s problem: An senior manager who isn’t giving HR the time of day.
“I’m sorry, Stu,” said vice president Jan Burling, cupping a hand over the receiver of her phone. “Today’s not going to work for us to get together on those evaluations.”
Standing across from Jan’s desk, HR manager Stu Capper rolled his eyes. This was the third time Jan had postponed their meeting in the past couple of weeks.
“When’s going to be a good time?” asked Stu, an edge in his voice.
“I’ll email you,” Jan said before returning to the conversation on the phone.
Stu waited for an email, but Jan never got back to him.
Later that week, Stu saw Jan walking ahead of him in the hall.
“Jan!” he shouted. “Hey, I’ve been hoping to catch up with you. When can we sit down and hammer out those evaluations?”
“Stu, we’ve got a bit of an emergency,” said Jan, never breaking stride. “And I’m going to be honest – the reviews aren’t that high on my priority list.”
“I understand you’re busy,” said Stu. “But I’m trying to keep us out of a legal mess.”
“Next week?” said Jan, pausing outside a conference room.
“No later,” said Stu.
But the following week came and went without the completed evaluations from Jan.
If you were Stu, what would you say or do next?
What your peers had to say
An HR manager from California
What she’d do: I’d speak with Jan again, this time laying out why it’s so important to get these reviews done.
Specifically, I’d concentrate on the fact that employees’ salaries are likely tied to these reviews.
Not only is it not fair to keep them waiting, but we could begin to face complaints (if we haven’t already) if we don’t take care of them soon.
Reason: I’m pretty persistent and direct, so I’m not going to give up when someone like this VP keeps brushing me off.
An executive director from Texas
What she’d do: I’d go right to Jan’s supervisor. I’d explain that I’d made repeated attempts to get Jan to take care of her performance evaluations, but no progress is being made.
Reason: Stu is right – there are definite legal implications from not getting these performance reviews done on time.
Getting a higher authority involved should be the kick in the pants that Jan needs to get things taken care of.
An HR manager from Washington
What he’d do: I’d continue to try to get something on the calendar with Jan, no matter how busy she is.
Most importantly, I’d stress the benefits of regularly conducting evaluations and point out that by not doing them, we’re keeping employees in the dark and potentially exacerbating ongoing performance issues.
Reason: There are a lot of reasons to conduct performance reviews, but perhaps the most important is so that people know where they stand and so we can tell them how they can fix any performance problems.