Tim Sackett’s HR 101: The Worst HR Advice I Ever Gave Someone

Article main image
Jul 8, 2014

A few days ago this thought came to me: “What is the worst advice I’ve ever given anyone?

Usually in a case like this, the first thing you think of, is usually correct! In my case, I came up with a number of things right away, none of which really seemed like the worst advice, and more of me making fun of what other people think is “good” advice.

Here’s a sample:

  • Don’t be afraid to fail.
  • Follow your passion!
  • Don’t play office politics.
  • Yeah, go get that Master’s in HR!
  • Just keep it to yourself, I’m sure no one will find out.

My all-time worst advice

See what I’m talking about? All of the above statements have been shared as good advice, but I tend to think of them as terrible advice.

Then it came to me. The worst advice I have ever given to an employee in my HR career. Here it is:

“Just wait and see what happens…”

This advice was given to an employee who really wanted a different position in the company outside of their department. A job was going to come open because we all knew the person in the position was going to get promoted.

I was early in my career, and believed that our “process” would help this person out. Just wait, I thought, and once this person takes their new position, you can post for the their old position.

How naive I was.

Outflanked by a man with a plan

The person who got promoted had a “plan.” That plan had nothing to do with my process, or the employee who was wanting that position.

The plan did have the old employee putting one of his buddies into his old position, and seemingly everyone knew of this plan but me. This was the day I learned that everyone has a plan, and in HR it’s really my job to know what those plans are, and manage expectations early.

The person I told to wait now didn’t trust me, and they truly believed I knew what was going to happen. The reality was, I should have known, so I really couldn’t blame the person for being upset with me.

My own bad advice probably taught me more about HR than almost anything else I have ever learned in the profession.

As soon as you hear of possible moves, you better get involved. Waiting to see what happens usually ends up with stuff happening, without you knowing!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.