Costly Consequences

One of the perils of working in Human Resources is getting blamed when things go wrong.  This seems to be the case in a recent costly settlement scandal, unfolding at Concordia University in Montreal.

Man Holding Money
Source: Bacho/Shutterstock

Click Here to Read the Article.

How does one jump to the unfortunate conclusion that the reason for this settlement at termination, comes from a fault in the hiring process?  Before we begin to speculate, let’s be clear in our understanding that none of the facts related to this situation have been acknowledged or identified by the two primary parties in this case.

It does seem evident, however, that there are a few costly lessons to be learned from this case.

First and foremost, no matter how senior the position may be, is the person selected for the role truly skilled and qualified to meet the requirements of both the position and the organization?  Good human resource practices should ensure that hiring decisions are based on more than just professional reputation alone.

Second, are the terms of the employment contract, which solidifies the employment relationships at the time of hiring, reasonable and mutually beneficial? Typically, reasonable termination clauses are included in the employment contract signed and agreed to by both parties at the time of hire.  In this case, it seems that the benefit in the form of the amount of severance, which was provided as a result of the ‘mutually agreed’ termination of the employment relationship, rests with the departing employee.  From the perspective of an outsider to this particular situation, it appears to be out of proportion to the benefit gained by the university based on the amount of time the individual was employed.

Third, what is the organizational risk assessment and risk tolerance for a hiring decision that does not go as planned?  As HR practitioners, we do not spend enough time in the recruitment planning and hiring process to gauge the consequences of poor hiring decisions.  We should definitely be doing our due diligence homework at the time of hiring and include the risk of impact on organizational reputation when these types of situations do not go exactly as planned, especially when they end up in the public domain.

Discussion Questions:

  1. As the HR advisor in this case, what processes or steps would you have put into place to prevent this situation from happening as it did?
  2. Do you think this level of executive severance pay out is appropriate? Why or why not?
  3. Identify three additional lessons learned from this case in relation to employment contracts and the hiring process.

The Scrapper or the Silver Spoon?

As Human Resources professionals, we are taught (and we teach others) to make sure that everything we do is in compliance with rules and regulations.  This is especially true in the areas of Recruitment and Selection.  We work hard at making sure that there are no appearances of bias in potential candidate considerations.  We apply the consistency lens throughout our human resources processes with vigorous tenacity so that we can proceed with confidence in making the best hiring decisions.

Sometimes, however, these approaches cloud the lens and we miss seeing who the best candidate really is.

Regina Hartley, a director of human resources with UPS Information Systems, provides a refreshing approach to seeking, looking at and finding the best candidate in her recent TED talk.

Click here to watch the TED talk

Ms. Hartley definitely provides inspiration to the rest of us – both as Human Resources Professionals and as potential candidates looking for future success in our own careers.

We all have elements of the ‘scrapper’ somewhere in our employment histories.  By looking for and celebrating the success of the scrapper, we open the doors to a host of dynamic and talented individuals who might be missed along the way.

Cheers to the scrappers!

Discussion Questions:

  1. If you had to make a decision to interview the ‘scrapper’ or the ‘silver spoon’ candidate, which one would you pick? Why?
  2. Identify one element from this video clip that you disagree with and explain why.
  3. Which candidate profile do you think others see you as? Are you perceived as a scrapper or silver spoon?
  4. Ms. Hartley refers to ‘Post Traumatic Growth’. What is this and how does it have a positive impact on an individual’s career success?


The HR Backpedal

Rescinding a Job Offer

No one in any profession likes to backpedal; let alone in the field of Human Resources.

Rescinding a job offer is like leaving someone waiting at the altar. I’m not speaking from personal experience here, but I have witnessed a wedding that never happened!

We, in HR, always want to move forward. We try to ensure our recruiting processes is tuned to perfection, so there would never be a situation of wanting or needing to rescind an offer of employment. Unfortunately, despite best efforts, it does happen!

Rescinding an offer of employment can range from a little embarrassing to downright illegal and place the company in Human Rights liability. Can a HR practitioner protect their professional integrity when rescinding a offer of employment?

Click here to read the article.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the best way to make a conditional offer of employment?
  2. Should all offers of employment be conditional?
  3. Will you lose potential employees if you start by offering a conditional offer of employment?
  4. When is it legally acceptable to withdraw an offer of employment?



HR Practitioner & the Hiring Manager

Working the relationship

All too often, we, as HR Practitioners fall into the trap of ‘owning’ the entire recruitment and staffing process. Is this because we want the control, or, is it because the supervisor does not want to take it on? After all, it is HR’s responsibility to ensure that the process is done effectively from the very beginning, before a vacancy is even created, to the very end, when the successful candidate is in place and working with the equally successful hiring manager.

We do all of the work and yet, final decisions are, typically, not in the control of the HR Practitioner.

Click here to view the article.

Our challenge is to find ways to work effectively with the hiring manager in order to ensure that good decisions are made. HR recruiters, as noted in the article above, need to work and understand what managers are looking for, and also, to whom they are connected. HR may have a central role in any organization, but we may not have expansive knowledge about business practices or required expertise to fill specific roles as positional or subject matter experts.

Source: Tumblr. The above content constitutes a link to the source website.

Sometimes we impose our own HR processes and timelines on to the overwhelmed and overworked hiring manager, who does not understand or appreciate why ‘our’ processes and timelines are important. If the HR Practitioner is able to make pro-active connections with each hiring manager, then there should be mutual benefit for both.

Discussion Questions:

  • Do you agree that there can be mutual benefit for both HR practitioner and Hiring Manager, if proactive connections are made?
  • What steps can you take when assigned to work with a hiring manager who is too busy to commit to ‘your’ HR processes?
  • What can you do to pro-actively encourage a positive decision-making result when working with a hiring manager?

The Painful, Yet Important, Job Analysis

Why is Job Analysis so important and yet, so very very painful? Ask any HR Practitioner if they would rather; a) do a complete job analysis for every single position in their organization or b) have dental surgery performed without any anesthesia or freezing agent? Absolutely guaranteed that the answer will always be the latter. Job Analysis may not be fun, but it is a crucial step to ensure organizational success.

Source: Tumblr. The above content constitutes a link to the source website.

Job Analysis is a fundamental tool that every HR practitioner must understand and/or use at some point throughout their career. It provides a cornerstone to ensure that job specifications are built from a neutral perspective, job descriptions can be created, effective recruitment processes can be built and put into place, and good decisions can be made based on good processes established from the beginning.

Click here to view the article.

Good job analysis resources are available through an number of live websites including, the one provided above. There are not a lot of varying opinions about the need for job analysis.   This is one area of HRM where the ‘just do it’ approach comes into play. What may be an on-going concern for the HR Practitioner, however, is access to useful tools, methods and processes when taking on the task of Job Analysis.

Discussion Questions:

Given how critical job analysis is, especially when related to formulating a recruitment strategy, why are there limited professional perspectives on effective job analysis?

  • How do we, as HR professionals, ensure that we fully comprehend the importance of this approach?
  • How do we explain and use job analysis effectively when we engage with hiring managers as partners throughout the recruitment process?