When was the last time you had to make a snap decision without input from the leadership? What was the decision that you made? Did it upset the employee or the employees involved? I’m willing to bet that you have this specific dilemma in mind. So, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Every HR manager is expected to make snap decisions about a wide range of issues, special requests, parental leaves, technology concerns, etc. Staying consistent and compliant is difficult for any team. Especially, if it’s just you running the show.
In this article, We’ll talk about how HR managers can make better decisions in difficult situations. By the end, you’ll be an expert problem solver, no matter what comes your way.
The points we’ll cover are
So, let’s dive in.
Many companies have been in the middle of some pretty significant changes in recent years as far as HR management is concerned. The most common change among many companies was the return to the office after more than a year of working remotely. And with that came question after question about everything from scheduling to technology to PTO requests.
Although there are also different issues coming from different departments of the company overall, most of these questions that fall on HR managers’ shoulders are very delicate in nature as their approach to solving such questions is a decisive factor in employees’ future and achievement of company goals.
It is overwhelming, to say the least. But thanks in part to some useful tips, best practices, and essential resources that help HR managers get the hang of the circumstances.
However, in this section of the episode, I’m going to post a bunch of different questions without answers, I promise this is by design.
When we reviewed these common problems, I’ll dig into how you can make fair judgment calls for each. For now, let’s cover some of the most common categories of judgment calls you have to make every single day as an HR manager/professional.
5 Common Categories of Judgement Calls HR Managers Have To Make
This is a big one because no matter what devices your team uses there’s a huge broad spectrum of issues that can crop up. Sometimes, it’s a user issue. A person cannot log in to their device or they’ve saved too many files locally which prevents them from updating their operating system to the latest version. Maybe, their computer is just old and needs to be replaced.
How does the HR manager determine which tech-related request to delegate or to adjust personally?
If you’re working for a small to mid-sized business, I’m willing to bet that you do have a dedicated IT team, but it’s relatively small. The worst part, in countless industries, it’s nearly impossible to be productive without your computer or laptop.
Paid Parental Leave.
Another common judgment call HR managers have to make is related to parental leave. If you have a paid time off policy for new parents, you know exactly what I’m talking about. What if someone joins your team and only a few weeks later needs to take time off to take care of their newborn? Or, what if an employee wants to split the parental leave time into two distinct chunks of time? How does HR accommodate these requests? It is especially tricky because parenthood is a sensitive topic, to begin with.
Overtime and PTO requests.
Most employers are probably familiar with overtime requests. In some cases, they’re absolutely necessary. For example, there are companies that pay out overtime to some of their team members each year because they’re needed on hand to help with their clients over certain processes.
But in other cases, you might find that one, two, or even three employees regularly clock overtime even if it doesn’t really seem that necessary. Similar to overtime requests or PTO exceptions maybe that employee is saving his hours and utilizing them to take off six straight weeks in the near future.
Both of these situations can hurt your company’s bottom line. How does an HR manager address it?
With many offices coming back to in-person work, the HR managers may find that employees have certain expectations or hopes for different work-from-home policies. Over the period, we’ve seen many employees who decided to quit if they couldn’t continue working remotely full-time.
What kind of message does it send to your employees if you decide to let some employees work from home full-time but not others?
Fielding Employee Grievances.
In more extreme cases, employees files grievances like EEOC claims or harassment complaints. It’s up to the HR manager to take the lead on these. Yet, how to handle them depends from one situation to the next.
As an HR manager, have you filled all these requests? Not only that, but how do you respond to them in a timely manner that appears fair? Let’s get into that right now.
Everything begins with your culture guide. In case you aren’t familiar, a culture guide is an enhanced employee handbook. It clarifies everything about the company from its vision and mission to how you request time off and instructions for the printer. It’s also updated regularly to incorporate the latest regulations and best practices.
This is key for an HR manager because you’re the owner of the culture guide you’re responsible for that it clearly reflects company policies related to all of the different judgment calls we just discussed.
However, in some situations, you’ll want the language to be vague to allow for decision-making. Let’s walk through some examples.
Ways HR Managers Can Handle Judgment Calls In These Areas
Technology. A proper culture guide is one that spells out the equipment each team member receives when they join. While it sets out to reach out to the company’s HR department in particular, in general, the guide doesn’t explicitly address how to fix specific issues with the equipment.
Mainly, because there are so many different ways in which technology can cause problems. This is where the role of HR comes in.
Let’s take a company-specific example. Suppose there are two different tech requests that have come to the HR manager’s desk. The first involved a small crack in a computer screen. The team member wants to replace the computer with a brand-new piece of hardware. As this issue doesn’t hamper employee productivity, deciding against granting the request would be the better option in this case.
On the other hand, a different team member approaches with a request for a new computer. They need to run some important software programs that are essential to their job function. Not only that but the computer that they were using at that time would randomly shut down before they could save their work.
In this case, granting the team member’s request would be a wise decision as the quality and pace of work would be enhanced.
Parental Leave. If your company offers a parental leave policy, it’s up to the organization’s discretion to make tweaks or adjustments to the benefits. As long as it goes above and beyond any state and federal laws, you have that flexibility.
Suppose you have a team member whose spouse recently gave birth to their first child. Instead of taking the full parental leave benefit, the employee requests to split the leave into two sections to accommodate the busy season for the company.
For such a situation, your company’s parental leave policy must be robust. To be precise it must have factors like ‘flexibility’ in order that both employees and the company aren’t at loss. If you have a policy of your own, I would recommend spelling it out explicitly in your culture guide.
Overtime and PTO Requests. Software tools can really help your team manage overtime and PTO requests. Specifically, the software has built-in tools that handle both overtime and PTO. Managers can review the requests and assess past employees’ records to decide whether they should approve or deny the time off.
For HR, these streamlined platforms mean that you actually spend less time evaluating decisions related to PTO and overtime. It also empowers managers to make their own decisions related to PTO requests.
Remote Policies. During the pandemic, many companies implemented new remote work policies for exempt and non-exempt members of our team. They cataloged the rules in the culture guide which gives HR managers more agency to make tough decisions. You can simply refer to the guide when requests are made instead of seeming that you came to your decision without any viable reason.
Employees may not like the decision you make but they’ll respect the judgment call that is caught up by the company.
Fielding Employee Grievances. These might be the trickiest judgment calls you might have to make because they are often so unique and specific to the situation that you can’t plan for an employee grievance.
With that said, your culture guide should be so comprehensive that it covers your base and many other topics. For example, it’s entirely possible that someone files an EEOC claim against your company at some point or maybe a harassment complaint against another coworker. You should have anti-harassment and security policies already outlined in your culture guide to ensure you’re following the guidelines you’ve already approved.
No matter what the judgment call is, an HR manager should always remember that you have the power to make these decisions. You should never respond to an exception request by saying,” The boss says no, so it’s a no”.
The decision needs to come from HR. HR managers need to collaborate with the leadership on a regular basis because this helps to find the boundaries and responsibilities between the two parties. How to position the conversation and your role is key here.
Because you want to take on more responsibilities as an HR manager, it’s best to explain to the leadership that there are certain tasks that you think you can handle yourself. Say something like this. It won’t be better for you if I use my judgment on these things because it will allow you to work on things that you’re supposed to be working on.
If you have a former employee who files an EEOC complaint, you review that claim and also your company policy and if you have done everything right then EEOC and other similar organizations shouldn’t scare you. And if you follow your policies as we recommend and you’re honest as you should be, then you should always be good.
After decisions with your CEO, you might learn they don’t even want to know about complaints like this. The only way you can know this is by previously establishing what they do and don’t want to know about staffing issues. I can’t recommend this because it helps tremendously in the decision-making process. Claims, complaints, harassment, etc. all of that you should be able to handle
Your CEO should know that. But if your company gets sued or suddenly appears on the local news channel then the owner probably needs to know.
For the most part, the HR manager should act as a dam. There’s a spectrum, don’t think these issues are black or white another key thing to know is that these things only aren’t reserved for HR leadership. It’s also up to HR managers to coach other team members to make judgments and take decisions on their own with input from top leadership.
When everyone on your team is empowered to make decisions about running up to the chain of command every single time, you end up with a more efficient and productive company. You should be confident that you know what you’re doing. It can be hard sometimes. But remember what we always say your job is really as strategic as you make it.
The first thing that you need to do to make better decisions and judgment calls is to build out your culture guide. The more comprehensive your guide is, the better your chances are that your employees will know what’s expected from them and what to expect from you.
Additionally, I recommend that you set aside some time with leadership to check in on some big and important topics that we covered earlier in this article. This gives you an opportunity to demonstrate that you’re thinking strategically about your role within your organization