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Home | Got a Minute | HR headaches | No. 106 – My HR manager is making me cry and I want to quit. What do I do?

No. 106 – My HR manager is making me cry and I want to quit. What do I do?

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10 May 2023

I have worked for my employer for over 20 years and now we have a new HR person who lies and spreads malicious gossip about the staff she doesn’t like. It has caused me to feel stressed out and I cry all the time. Even though I am a manager, I feel like a junior member of staff as she is constantly reminding me to show her respect. She has even told staff not to speak to me. I am being given more work than I can cope with, so she can give my work to someone else. I have had virtually no training in the extra work, and I am making mistakes with embarrassing results, which she tells people about. I want to resign, but my friends say to go on stress leave. What do you recommend?

OK, let’s work through some solutions together since resigning will, hopefully, be your last resort. You mentioned you have been with your employer for 20 years and the HR person is new – is there a more senior manager you have worked with over that time, who knows your work, you can speak with about what you are experiencing? It sounds like you could initially seek advice within your company, from someone you trust, about how the new HR person’s behaviour is affecting you.

If your mental health is being impacted, can you access any EAP or other services provided by your employer to help deal with the stress you are feeling? This can become a serious issue without taking care of your health, so you may like to let the other internal senior manager you talk to know what is going on for you, so they can help you receive the support you need.

Finally, keep a record of everything that is happening since it may be that your new HR person is trying to move you out of the organisation, and bullying you out of a job breaches a number of workplace laws. You can speak to your union if you belong to one, or seek advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

I have my first job interview in an office coming up and everyone tells me I need to have some questions ready to ask. The problem is: I just don’t know what to ask as I have never been in this situation before. Can you please let me know what kinds of questions I should ask?

The fact you are asking this question tells me all I would need to know if I were hiring you! I love how you are keen to learn and no doubt, you will succeed.

For an interview like you have described, some general questions you might like to have up your sleeve (separate to any specific ones you will think of) include things like: what would a typical day look like for the team I am to join, or for this role? What qualities do you think will make someone successful in this role? How will you measure success in this role in say, the first three months, or the first year? What opportunities for training and development will there be in this role? Can you tell me a bit more about the culture of the team and company – how do people tend to work? What is the team’s approach to flexible or hybrid work?

Hopefully, these kinds of questions will help prompt your own as well. Most importantly, good luck! I am sure they will be lucky to have you.

Why do some employers post job ads that don’t include the salary or even a salary range? It makes it hard to know whether to apply or not. And if they don’t put a salary figure in there, what’s the best way of asking about pay without sounding too mercenary?

I agree, it is frustrating when there is no indication of salary. When you do ask, often the employer or recruiter will then put it back on you to state a figure. Employers want to see what your salary range expectations might be, so they can decide whether to include you in the mix. For some employers, it also gives the opportunity to pay less if your expectations are lower (and these kinds of questions also contribute to the gender pay gap).

I do think you can ask about remuneration without sounding mercenary (I mean, everyone needs to be paid so nothing to be embarrassed about in that regard). Maybe something like “It would be good to understand at some stage the remuneration involved, just so I can gauge whether this will be a good fit for us both.” That is a very discreet way of saying “How much are you going to pay me!” without saying it so brutally. If you are applying for a role through a recruiter, this is normally an easier conversation, and you can just ask whether they can give you an indication of remuneration.

Either way, it really would be much easier if every job ad included a salary range at the outset.

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