Nov 02 2011 Published by under [Education&Careers]

What HR wants and what the university wants and what you want are rarely in sync and often directly confrontational. HR only wants to avoid getting sued. Period. Everything they do is to cover their ass. Do not think they give two shits whether you hired someone qualified or a hobo, as long as it fits their checklist of Things To Do To Avoid Being Sued. The people working in HR don't understand anything but what is on that list and they will defend it to the death.

11 responses so far

  • AcademicLurker says:


  • BugDoc says:

    Yes! The easiest way to avoid being sued is to never fire anyone no matter how incompetent. If you keep paying incompetent people free money, they will not sue you. Of course, nothing will get done either, but at least the University will not get sued. On the bright side, perhaps a University employee will win the International Internet Solitaire Championship, bringing fame and glory to our institution.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    And I thought I was cynical 🙂

  • When one becomes wise in the ways of university like Master proflikesubstance you understand these things. Then you will learn of the "upward demotion" where an incompetent administrator is "promoted" into a nifty sounding position where they can no longer do so much harm and may actually shuffle paper in a minimally useful manner while being encouraged to seek other employment hopefully. Of course when you upwardly demote an athletic director and they become the head of the research and grants office (yes, it happened), you've sold the main function of a university down the river to help athletics.

  • MacCruiskeen says:

    I would modify that somewhat. In my experience it's the job of the office of legal counsel to protect the institution from being sued. HR departments generally have no independent thought process whatsover. They do, it is true, like to tick off boxes on forms, and coming up with new forms. And it is also true that if your needs don't align with the boxes on the form, they can make things difficult for you.

  • nick says:

    True and frustrating, but probably unavoidable in these weird times.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Is this the "must post the job announcement for two weeks" for the postdoc or grad student you are about to take on? or is this the old "you must document the employees' deficiencies and create a plan for improvement, then you can fire them in 3 months"? or perhaps the "give your reasons for proposing a raise for this person but no, you can't see our sekrit list of HR buzzwordbullcrappia we use to evaluate that request"?

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Luckily this is simply advice for today.

  • Namnezia says:

    Or the "your not allowed to give your outstanding technician an outstanding performance review because those are only reserved for those we think are outstanding". Of course I ignore them anyway.

  • Eli Rabett says:

    Eli has a winning entry, since the University has a hiring freeze, you have to ask the Provost and the CFO's permission to pay a stipend to an undergraduate student (beat that one back but not without loss of life).

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