The Trouble With a Boss Who Cares

HR needs to develop skill in handling workplace issues, not just recruiting and social media.


From time to time, my friends in HR will ask me, “How do I become more relevant at my job?” Or, “How can I increase my visibility and credibility with my boss?”

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Here's a story for you. I recently had a conversation with an executive. He's an operational guy, a leader in his organization. I can tell that he's engaged and he cares about the company as well as his people, works his butt off and thinks long-term as well as short-term.

He recently asked his direct reports to go back to their teams and ask for a couple of things. He wanted to know everyone’s birthdays, their spouse's name, the day they started at the company and their home numbers. He made a point of telling them the reason is he wants to send everyone a personal note on their birthday and anniversary date, and if something happens, he wants their home numbers. And the team leaders can do the same. But, if anyone feels uncomfortable giving this information, fine. No pressure.

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So, not long after, the HR person shows up, and has to talk to him about “something important.” Turns out, someone complained to HR about this request, never mind his no-pressure comment. HR thought he should know about the complaint and probably shouldn’t have made this request.

HR people can get as good as they can at recruiting and social media, but until they get equally good at handling this sort of the thing, they will still be at the kids’ table on Thanksgiving Day.

G. L. Hoffman is a serial entreprenuer and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, which operates LinkUp, one of the fastest-growing job search engines. His blog can be found at


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