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Being able to forge a healthy relationship with Human Resources — ahem, HR — is a critical step in the development and growth of your career path. But often, people tend to duck and hide or flee the path of HR for the fear of receiving bad news.

Here’s the thing: if you are the one ducking and hiding, you’re missing a huge opportunity to build an important relationship with a key influencer. Not to mention, you’re hurting HR’s feelings.

It’s easy to get along with HR — if you approach it the right way. They want to be friendly with the people they support… up to a point. But at a minimum, they want to get along with you. Here are five ways to get along with HR:

1. Remember HR Is Made of People

This is easy to forget because the perception of HR is of cold, calculating old ladies ready to kill your career aspirations, but the HR department is made up of people. They come to work for the same reasons you do. They have families and lives and their own dreams.

People make up HR — and just like other people, they want to be liked and respected. The easiest way to make a connection with your HR partner is to treat them as you would any other person.
Say hello to them when you cross paths in the hallway instead of scattering. Ask them how their weekend was at the water cooler as you would with your cube-mate. Remember that they’re people first, HR second.

2. Deliver Value

HR is always on the lookout for ways to make their lives easier — isn’t everyone? Being able to deliver value to the organization proactively and when asked goes a long way in creating a solid bond with HR.

When you’re delivering, you are not a “problem child,” and therefore you’re one less person they have to worry about when it comes to employee relations issues or performance improvement plans.

Stay off their radar for bad reasons and get on their radar for being an accountable, reliable employee who delivers value to the organization.

3. Keep Them in the Loop

My fellow HR colleagues may be upset I’m sharing this with you, but there is a rush of power that comes with knowing “everything.” And when HR isn’t aware of a critical detail because someone left them out of the loop… watch out.

Avoid this at all costs by keeping HR in the loop with anything and everything that’s relevant to them. Not only the bad news, but also the good news.

If you’re thinking about your next move or want to be considered for a promotion, HR should be one of the first stops on your list. They’re always looking for qualified people to offer up as potential candidates during talent management discussions — and if you don’t keep them in the loop with your desires, they aren’t able to suggest you.

4. Stop Referring to HR As “Them”

Inside of organizations, inevitably there’s an “us vs. them” mentality when things don’t go the way we want them to. Since HR is usually the group sharing the bad news, the department easily becomes the “them” in the conversation.

There is nothing worse than not feeling part of the team you’re working so hard on, and being called “them” is the quickest way to do that. In conversations, change your references about HR and know that they truly are your team members. Their focus is just from the company’s best interests instead of a specific project/department. That doesn’t mean they are “The Man,” but that they have another perspective to add and look out for.

Be inclusive of their ideas and their role, and stop putting yourself on the other side of the fence.

5. Remember They’re the Messenger, Not (Always) the Bad Guy  

HR tends to deliver more bad messages than good ones — layoffs, downsizing, demotions, firings and so on. But they are not the people making those decisions on their own; it’s not their fault.

It’s easy to assign blame to a group when you don’t see them as people, colleagues or friends, but HR truly are more the messengers than the bad guys. Remember that when they have to deliver the news — they aren’t excited or giddy about doing it, it’s just part of their job.

In the End

At the end of the day, people who work in HR are just like you, except their focus and specialty is helping employees and organizations succeed. The easier you make it on them to do their job, the better it will be for you and your career.

When you’re friends with HR, you will see many more doors and opportunities open for you because you’re on their radar for all the right reasons.


This post originally ran on CareerMeh: smart, actionable advice for Millennials, by Millennials.