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HR Cannibalism

May 17, 2011

I had a delightful lunch yesterday with an HR colleague.  We covered a wide host of topics but one that we landed on really gave me pause… “Why do we have HR peeps who put up road blocks/make things difficult for other HR peeps?”

Say whaaat?  Well, let me count the ways…

* There are HR groups (and yes, even SHRM chapters) that make it difficult, if not downright impossible, to join.

* Oftentimes,  if reaching out to an HR peer at another organization with a question, be careful lest your arm get slammed in the door as you are quickly turned away.

* If you’re looking for an HR job, be prepared to encounter resistance from other HR peeps in the networking arena.  They don’t want to introduce you to anyone – hell – you might take their job!

* What other field makes it so difficult for new professionals to enter the field?  Our ‘entry-level’ HR jobs require 2 – 3 years experience.  I mean c’mon – is this Rocket Science?


I don’t know, maybe it’s just the two of us who experience this.  It’s possible it’s a symptom of geography, history and etched-in-stone HR-culture.  A mid-sized community with long-tenured HR ladies and gents who “like things just the way they are, thank you very much.  Things have been fine, there are only so many HR jobs to go around in town and we don’t need any upstarts changing the order of things.” 

But woah Bessie – talk about HR doing itself a disservice.  Are we filial cannibals –  (symbolically) feasting on the young of our own species? And why do we do it?  To assert our dominance?  Perhaps, as in zoology, we’re hoping to conserve our energy and ensure strong future ‘reproductions.’

Or maybe we’re trying to maintain the order of things by eating and eliminating those who would present a threat or challenge.   And I would certainly prefer to be the one lying on the dinner plate rather than the one who’s holding the knife and fork.


What about you – have you ever run into any HR cannibals?


3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2011 7:23 am

    Thanks Robin. Many Many peers and co-workers spend too much time wanting to “eat their own.” They spend so much time figuring out how to destroy rather than build.

    Perhaps that is why many HR folks simply do not add value. Thanks for posting this.

  2. May 17, 2011 9:23 am

    Robin, you are SOOOOOOO right about this. The most frustrating thing that drives me battier than anything is another HR Pro who is stepping all over me. WHY? There is seriously no need for that, but ya know what? It may be because we aren’t inhibited that we find ourselves seeing things this way. To many times the HR Pro is called upon to implement rules, and regulations instead of embracing human nature, and we get stuck there. We spend more time worrying about what we don’t want employees doing that it carries over into other aspects of our lives. I for one understand that we can’t control everything, (especially our own HR kinsmen)…so AMEN Robin, AMEN!

  3. May 17, 2011 11:50 am

    In my experience, yes, I’ve run into these de-railers. However, I’ve also seen the complete reverse. For example, the online HR community tends to be much more supportive, propping each other up, including others in opps that come our way, and even helping each other find work when we need it. Maybe the real question is about confidence. If you are less confident in your own ability, you will be less likely to promote the strong abilities of others. Great post to get us thinking.

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