The following home truths are somewhat brutal. They are aimed at people joining an organisation in a managerial capacity with aspirations to get to the top.
Whilst some HR people will take offence, the good ones won’t. They have a role to play in the business – and a valuable one at that. Just not in the way that some of them think and would like to have you think.
When you join a company
Just sign the paper work. Don’t ask questions don’t try and make connections. Don’t talk about your career path with anyone. They have no power and little influence – it is your line manager’s call.
While you are working
Never approach for help, counselling or advice. You will be seen as weak by the rest of the business. And the only real assistance thy can give you as just more advice and counselling. They can’t make your problem with the boss go away. (They already know your boss is a jerk, but they can’t do anything about that unless his/her boss wants to anyway.)
When you leave a company
They are watching you and your internet traffic. Don’t even think about leaking something or taking something. If you do, good riddance and you deserve to be slapped with whatever they can slap you with.
I they make counter-offer, DO NOT accept the offer. The company has a long memory and will always wonder when you’re going to threaten to quit again.
Decline the exit interview. They don’t really care; they don’t really do anything with the data and they know you won’t be stupid enough to burn any bridges.
HR can be very useful to an organisation by managing training, payroll, recruitment etc. But like Marketing and Finance, HR is a STAFF department and not a LINE department. They are experts in their domain and can shape the careers of the people in their respective departments only.
The first principle is always to identify the decision maker in anything and they are expert ADVISERS not decision makers. If you have an issue (any issue not just a people/performance one), identify the real decision maker and go to them. Don’t assume that is HR even if they tell you they are or can solve that particular problem.
This does not diminish their role, because there can only be one decision maker and that is the person responsible. If you can’t figure out who that is, you probably deserve the advice you will get from whomever you ask.
And finally, do NOT assume that the decision maker is the person that the organisational structure or job description depicts as the decision maker. This is the real skill of getting ahead.