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The HR Solar System

April 17, 2012

Here’s one I’ve pulled out from the dusty archives… (November 2010)


I was witness to an interesting phenomenon not too long ago – a round of “HR Solar System.” Also known as “I’m in HR and I think the planets revolve around me.”

At a recent workshop, the speaker posed the following question: “if an employee is getting off track, whose job is it to get them back on board?”

So while I ticked through some answers in my mind – “the employee, the manager” – I really wasn’t surprised to hear an answer bubbling up from throughout the audience – “it’s HR’s job.”

Seriously HR? Really?


One thing that always makes me wince is when HR colleagues make statements along the line of “I have to meet with Sally Sue Employee to issue her write-up/written warning/PIP.” And Sally Sue works in Accounting. Or Marketing. In other words, Sally Sue is NOT having this performance discussion with her manager – she is having it with HR.

Stop it HR.

HR’s role is not to insert itself into every single employee interaction. Our role is to assist the managers by providing them with the coaching, support and guidance so that THEY can have performance discussions with employees who report to them.

Our role is to assist in supporting a culture where employees are treated with dignity and in which there is adherence to laws, regulations and policies. Our role is to work to ensure that our organizations provide the foundational structure and the environment in which the employees can succeed. And ultimately our role is to do all these things in order to impact our organization’s performance and success.


The quickness of these workshop attendees to respond “that’s HR’s role to get an employee back on track” points to a continuing desire to be acknowledged and validated. I saw it happen live. I hear stories about it on a regular basis. Jason Lauritsen wrote a great post about this syndrome over at Practicing HR after the conclusion of the HR Reinvention Experiment in Omaha. He made some great points and readers chimed in with some super comments. Go check it out and then let me know —

—- does HR still view itself as the center of the universe? Do we suffer from Solar System Syndrome?

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 30, 2012 1:19 pm

    HR solar system .. love it! Seriously HR need to lay back a little bit, interfere only where and when needed, and not impose themselves everywhere
    thanks for a nice article

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