This is the tightrope act all of us in this field are faced with. We are that position in the organization that really shouldn’t stay late for an extra shot of tequila at the annual holiday party. However, we do need to engage with employees in order to have our finger on the true pulse of the organization and to create a culture of trust. We want employees to come to us when they are having a bad day, need to vent, or want to complain about their co-worker.
In order to be successful in our roles and to create a relationship of trust, we need to set boundaries in a respectful manner. These boundaries should be clear so that employees will understand when they come to us and tell us they have an issue but “want it to stay between us”, they will understand when we explain to them that there are certain things (such as harassment claims) that cannot go without escalation. That has always been a tough situation for me.
It is not easy once you are on a friendly level with an employee and they want to tell you about how horrible their boss is but don’t want you to do anything about it. Not only is it our job to help with those matters, but it is also in our nature to want to help. But I’ve been stuck in that awkward situation where I want them to feel comfortable confiding in me, and knowing that they will feel betrayed if I take action – even if it is with good intentions and an attempt to remedy the matter.
So, can HR have friends in the workplace? I came across this blog today that pragmatically addresses this question: