our HR manager is out of control

A reader writes:

I am a manager for a public library. Our HR manager has convinced our director that it’s in our district’s best interest to post and interview for every single position and change in hours that ever happens, even if this means people are re-interviewing for their own jobs multiple times. For example, we want to move someone from a .3 FTE to a .5 FTE in the new budget year. She will be doing the exact same job, but she will be working 20 hours a week rather than 12. I know that person wants the hours, and rather than just adjusting her schedule, she will now have to reapply for her own job, because we are technically “removing” the .3 FTE and “adding” the .5 FTE position. Ugh.

The director is going along with this for fear that we will get sued by disgruntled employees for not allowing other staff (and sometimes the public) “the opportunity” to apply for that job, even though no one else is going to be hired for this position… the original person is doing the job, she’s doing it well, and we want to add hours to her schedule. We have 400 employees, so this practice leads to a lot of fake internal job postings, people applying for positions that aren’t really open, staff feeling like we are trying to get rid of them, and a huge amount of time wasted in these interviews. The rest of the managers have protested this and asked for case law showing the reasoning behind it, but the HR manager just says “it’s complicated” and tells us to look at “the EEOC.”

Now, I understand that a guiding principle of public service is that everyone has an equal right to apply for and be considered for a position, and that nepotism is unacceptable, but wow, this is taking it to an extreme. What can we do? I think this is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars.

Your HR manager should be fired.

That might sound extreme, but she clearly has zero understanding of the law, zero understanding of her role (which is to help your organization function as effectively as possible, not to put up fake obstacles in its way), and zero instinct about how to operate effectively. Moreover, when challenged, she resorts to vagueness (“it’s complicated”) and BS (“look at the EEOC”).

And this is BS. It’s a perversion of practices intended to guard against allegations of discrimination. As you said yourself, you’re simply increasing people’s hours, not hiring for entirely new roles. She’s forcing candidates and employees to go through the charade of interviews that will never pay off for anyone, harming employee morale by making good employees think their jobs are in jeopardy, and wasting time that should be spent on real work. She’s basically functioning as the exact opposite of what her role should be. She’s like the anti-HR.

But perhaps most importantly, your HR director should not be running the show when it comes to hiring. Other managers should be overruling her. Someone above this woman needs to step in and put a stop to this (as well as to her continued employment there).

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