It’s really important that human resources (HR) be the source and example for the type of leadership that your organization should strive for and provide. Many of those in leadership positions do not come into their jobs with the background, experience or understanding of the importance of proper and respectful treatment of employees in order to get the desired results. It is my opinion that HR is the source of this knowledge and sets the tone. HR should not only support consistent treatment of your employees but reinforce the importance of fairness, compassion, and respect in all of the advice, counseling, and recommendations that they make.

If your leadership is harsh, condemning and disrespectful in the treatment of others, this will result in employees who share the same behaviors and who become, over time, angry, resentful and fed up. It comes down to cause and effect—whatever behaviors you exhibit are those results you will realize. Too often leadership only knows that they have to have a heavy hand and know how to control, limit and condemn. They try to run the shift by barking orders and instilling fear in everyone—most times out of fear of losing control. 

Strong and confident leadership comes with experience and understanding. Some of the best qualities that an effective leader can exhibit include…

1. knowledge of the work

2. confidence in your abilities (but not arrogance)

3. understanding of what motivates and drives others

4. ability to embrace the importance of treating others with respect

5. the principles and importance of fair, consistent and compassionate treatment

In human resources we try to get our leaders to understand the importance of looking at all aspects of the individual’s employment and their situation.

1. Are they a new employee just learning the ropes? What is their job/position?

2. Did they get an orientation or training for their job?

3. What is their longevity with the Company? 

4. Do they have prior discipline or other counseling on their record?

5. Do they have a personal issue impacting an otherwise solid job performance?

The most effective leaders should understand that they once were in the position (not literally, of course) of the person they are counseling. Before passing judgment, they should listen to the perspective and feedback of the employee, evaluate all of the facts, and come to a decision which is fair and just for both parties. We should always remember that a “win/win” result is the ultimate goal and that constantly replacing employees is not only costly and time consuming, but impacts your organization’s reputation and long term success.

I think that good leadership takes a lot of time and effort, and is always evolving and changing with the times. When or if we remain in the ways of the past or perpetuate a poor leadership style because it’s all that we know, we are then doomed to repeat those mistakes and to never set a leadership tone that is right for your people and in tune with the times.

HR Question of the month: Please send your HR questions and concerns, or share your thoughts on your human resources challenges via email to the following address. Send input to Your comments, questions or concerns will help determine the direction for my next month’s column and earn you a copy of my book. Include your mailing address when sending your responses.