HR Friends Don’t Let Friends Behave Badly

Have you ever had a friend who knows full well what you do call to tell you about an HR pickle they’re in? One that reads your blog and knows more about HR and appropriate behavior than they lead you to believe? And do you let that friend off the hook when they tell you about their knuckleheaded actions when they try to play it off as no big deal? If you do, don’t. HR friends don’t let friends behave badly.

I have close friend. We’ve known each other for a really long time and we frequently keep in touch. And he’s a dude. Works in a “Bro” environment. Fist bumps, high fives, and fanny slaps. All with other bro’s. The other day, he gives me a call. Yes, we still use the phone. After a few minutes of busting my chops about this blog and goofing on what I do, (not to worry, HR peeps, like a nasty Roger Federer return, I don’t let him off the hook about the dude ranch where he works) he goes on to tell me about an instance where he was called out for his locker room behavior.

While in a session about respectful workplaces, employees had to write on a Post-it an instance when they felt uncomfortable in the workplace and post in on the wall. The facilitator then randomly selected a few of them and read aloud. One particular post described a time when a male felt offended and uncomfortable when his male colleague continues to smack his behind after a big sale.

My buddy tells me that he knew this was about him and he wanted to go hide. He then tells me he can’t believe this dude would be offended about some good ol’ fashioned celebrations like we used to do after a big play on the hoops court in college intramurals.

After about 8 seconds of silence on the phone, I respond, “Dude. Don’t you even listen or pay attention to what I do? C’mon, man!” I go on to explain that regardless the situation or relationship, make or female, butt-slaps are never appropriate in the work environment. Unless you’re a jockey and your colleague is Triple-Crown winner, Justify.

So, my HR friends, we must continue to fight the good fight. Keep pushing the HR content and reinforcing what good looks like in the workplace. Sure, it’s not the most cool topic of conversation over some cold IPAs, but we have a duty to protect our friends and the bro’s they work with. We must continue to beat the drum of good performance management, exemplary employee experiences, and solid leadership development. For the sake of all employees everywhere, we can’t let our friends behave badly.


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