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So the HR wants us to have 1:1 to talk about how I'm doing (I started there about 6 months ago).

EDIT - this is a regular routine after 6 months in the company.

Over and over on this site, I read the statement that "HR is not your friend".

Is this a real opportunity to freely talk about good and BAD things in the workplace?

Should I bring to the table the topics that are annoying me and other people, or stick to "everything is great"?

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    "Should I bring to the table the topics that are annoying me and other people..." It depends. What are those topics? – Stephan Branczyk May 3 at 17:58
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    Where in the world are you located? Does six months correspond to probation? How large is your employer or division the HR you'll be talking to is responsible for? – gerrit May 4 at 8:34
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    "HR is not your friend" - it depends. I have a good relationship with the HR of the company I cooperate with: I happily provided the feedback (both positive and negative) and we made steps to fix the problems compliant with the company goals and run. Happy team member = happy company. – Nikolas Charalambidis May 5 at 8:13
  • Are your issues of the kind "the company could be sued for it"? HR is allergic to those. – Quora Feans May 5 at 12:30
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    ‘Over and over on this site, I read the statement that "HR is not your friend"’ — yup. HR is your co-worker. – Paul D. Waite May 6 at 12:10
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'HR is not your friend' is a statement that's often repeated to mean that HR's job is to protect the interests of the company rather than yours. Therefore if you have some issue in your workplace and go to HR, keep in mind that they won't prioritise helping you if it creates some conflict with the company's interests.

That said, there are plenty of situations where your interests and the company's will align. Giving and receiving feedback about areas in which the company can improve is one of these situations. If HR is directly asking you for feedback about the company as a matter of routine (i.e., they're asking everybody six months after they start) then you should provide it.

Keep the following in mind with your feedback:

  • Be constructive. Provide specific suggestions on what can be improved rather than just making general complaints.
  • Don't 'attack' specific people or teams. If you've been having significant issues with a particular person or team then raise them in a way that doesn't assign blame to anybody. "Jeff and I aren't working well together..." is better than "Jeff has been doing x, y, z that's causing problems.
  • Frame problems in a way that shows how they affect business. "The problem I've having communicating with Alpha team is affecting our work because..." is better than "I find communication with Alpha team really annoying!"

You'll also have to try and judge the culture in your company and make decisions about how to interact with HR based on that. In my previous company, which was a big corporation, it was clear that HR wasn't interested in the day to day work problems of every employee and I wouldn't have talked to them about any issue I was having with work. In my current company, which is smaller, the HR are more approachable and friendly and I feel confident that I can talk to them about any problems that I'm having with the company (keeping in mind that they will always prioritise the company's interests over mine).

Overall if the HR in your company has a standing policy of asking new employees for feedback after six months then that's a pretty good sign that they're happy to receive feedback, positive or negative. I think you should feel free to bring to the table any topics that are bothering you, keeping in mind the points I made above about how you should express them.

EDIT: I should also be clear that I'm basing this on my experience working for various companies across the UK, Germany and Spain. I'm not sure that HR departments might not operate differently in other parts of the world.

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    While I agree with this answer overall, I don't quite agree with the examples provided. If you have problems communicating or working with others, I would strongly suggest trying to sort that out directly with the individuals involved before involving HR (or potentially involving management instead, as that would be more in their domain if it's professional and not personal). I would generally feel comfortable talking to them about work environment, equipment, perks, etc. – Bernhard Barker May 3 at 19:06
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    I think its more correct to say that HR will prioritize their own personal interests over everything else. Protecting their immediate superiors and their own careers is their first interest and then perhaps the company if it serves them. Certainly it will be on their mind as they make decisions, and their generally not the kind of people who believe in falling on their swords to serve the company. – Mark Rogers May 3 at 20:21
  • @BernhardBarker depends a bit on whether one has done that already and the kind of problems. If it's processes or policies etc. that the other team "does different" than what would help you, then bringing this up can help. The less you've tried to resolve this earlier the more open and neutral should your feedback , but it can be valuable either way. As a newcomer you might not try to change other department's policies, but if HR hears from enough corners of the company about problems, they might trigger a change from their side. But yes, those parts could be more fleshed out. – Frank Hopkins May 3 at 20:27
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    If HR is going to be present at that meeting, writing down a few potential training courses that would improve your work might also be an idea. It shows them you want to get better, and might take the "I have to talk to HR about that" part out of later asking your manager for the courses. – WooShell May 4 at 8:47
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    @RomanOdaisky I'm not saying "don't raise any issues that you have with other teams", I'm saying don't raise the issue in a way that casts blame directly to the other team. "We're having trouble communicating effectively together" is going to go down better than "they're not communicating well with me". – Duck Hunt Duo May 5 at 7:54
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TLDR: HR IS NOT YOUR FRIEND

For a six month status meeting, you should just focus on how you are getting along and any tools and or assistance you need to make you more productive. Keep it positive, and have solutions ready for any problems you wish to address

A one-on-one with HR is not like sitting down with a friend and talking about all the problems you have with every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the job. They don't keep confidences, and they won't stick by you when times get rough. They won't stick their necks out to protect you, and they won't work solely for your benefit.

HR exists to protect the company, and to make sure the company runs smoothly by addressing problems and dealing with them. For example, if you name five people who are causing you trouble, and nobody else has said "boo" about them, then YOU are what is keeping the company from running smoothly, and you will be dealt with.

For a one-on-one meeting with them keep it sweet, keep it simple, stick to the facts and focus on the positive.

Do not bring up any "problematic" things. Six months in, you're still a new hire and they're not going to upend things because a new hire says so.

If there is something SERIOUS that you wish to discuss with them, have it well documented, be factual, and have ideas/solutions ready that are as conciliatory and non confrontational as possible.

A six month status meeting is to determine how you are fitting in with the company, it is NOT a time to air any grievances.

If you do have issues, the way to address them is to tell them what you need to better do your job. They'll be real friendly if you do that. You want to bring them solutions along with the problem whenever possible. "Hey, my first six months here have been great. I have one problem. My hearing isn't the best, and I can't always tell when my phone is ringing, could I have a light so that I can see when it's ringing?" That kind of approach.

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You've only been there 6 months, you're still proving yourself.

I would not advise bringing up anything unless it is a major issue. Small issues can make it look like you're not a particularly good fit with the workplace or your colleagues.

Major issues like health and safety risks or similar should be mentioned, but you should never single any individual out.

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  • The whole point of reviews like this is for the company to get a fresh perspective on possible issues. Sure, you shouldn't just randomly badmouth coworkers, but anything that made your life harder than it was should be brought up. – Davor May 4 at 9:17
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    @Davor perhaps later on at the company, the first one is mostly just seeing if you're a good fit – Kilisi May 4 at 9:25
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    Small issues are bad ("I don't know how to foo the bar"); small areas where you're learning or improving are probably neutral ("It was really hard to learn how to foo the bar"); a few small beneficial suggestions may be good ("Now that I've learned to foo the bar, I hope to get time to create a bar-fooing guide for other new hires"). – fectin May 4 at 20:09
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'HR is not your friend' the end result of a cost-benefit analysis. Some hold strictly to it, due to past negative experiences. I find the maxim to be useful, it spurs me to think critically instead of trusting blindly.

In my opinion, the same applies to managers - but I'll use 'HR' below.

Your 1:1 with HR is a negotiation disguised as a conversation. If you want to bring an issue to their attention, ideally ...

  • your interests align with those of the organization,
  • and you frame the issue such that there's a benefit to the company,
  • and HR sees it that way too,
  • and HR is empowered to effect the change,
  • and manages it without misrepresenting your intentions or offending someone in a key position.

In an ideal situation, you would feel free to discuss any issue you like during the 1:1. But even then, HR will prioritize their own (or the company's) needs, goals and intentions over yours. In a less than ideal situation, your openness on an issue is not appreciated and carries repurcussions.

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  • and HR is empowered to effect the change Upvoted just for this sentence. – Peter Kämpf May 6 at 4:56
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When folks say "HR is not your friend", it doesn't mean "HR is your enemy". Some employees think that when things go wrong they can run to HR and get them fixed. HR doesn't do that; HR works to keep the "human relations" within the company functioning well - their focus is the company as a whole, not your particular concerns.

But you can bring up issues that you see that inhibit the company from functioning well. If there's some program that you've seen run more positively elsewhere, mention it (for example: "Hey, at my last company, the wellness program did this, and it really encouraged us to get out and exercise more"). If there's something that's getting in the way of your progress or your team's productivity, bring it up in a tactful way.

Don't go in there with business issues or complaints about your boss or your co-workers. Do that and suddenly you are the thing inhibiting the functioning of the company.

One thing to note is that HR people tend to focus on HR issues more than anything else - training, diversity programs, that sort of thing. If you do want to bring something up that's a bit negative, stroke them a bit first by talking positively about what they add to the company.

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Over and over on this site, I read the statement that "HR is not your friend". - Just focus into what is expected to talk in the 1:1 meeting and nothing else, specially nothing abstract

Is this a real opportunity to freely talk about good and BAD things in the working place? - Yes, in particular things that affect positively and negatively your performance.

Should I bring to the table the topics that are annoying me and other people, or stick to "everything is great"? - You should not talk about topics that disturb other people, give them the chance to express that themselves. About things that are annoying you, try to point them combined with what you think it should be the solution for those issues or, at least what are your expectations.

In general these review meeting are a great debrief from the probation time or ending cycle, they tend to be very well accepted by the HR when presented as a will to make things better also from the employee side

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    OP, this is the answer. I like to call these "don't say anything stupid" meetings, because you can only go wrong by voluntarily saying something really stupid. But beyond that, just be friendly and remember that the person you are talking to is just that: a person, not a department (well, unless it's a really small company...). – Z4-tier May 6 at 4:34
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Communication in all its forms is an important life-skill. Lack of it will hold you back.

How would you prepare for any meeting? If there isn't a proper agenda then ask if there's anything you should bring with you. That asking is a nice way to say you're engaging with HR's process. Always appear positive. (If you're genuinely a nervous and lacking confidence then, for good HR people, that's an important clue to your character in the game of not putting square pegs in round holes.)

The HR people are not trying to sack you or reduce your wages. They want skilled and enthusiastic people. How can you help them? How can they help you? What trivial things irritate you about this company when compared with other jobs? You can talk about small things, but you must take notes on anything which is slightly serious. When you walked-in off the street six months ago they didn't know anything about you really. Now they know you're not a complete idiot and join in with their shenanigans. But suppose they were looking for people to start off a new project, then how would they know you'd be the right, or wrong, person to consider? Help them.

Do you have any goals at work? Discover more about the business to make it interesting? Amaze your colleagues with your in-depth knowledge. Join the company indoor hang-gliding club? Suppose you're a clerk dealing with people on construction sites, then I would certainly say I'd find it useful to spend a day on a site to see what all these things you deal with actually are and why the paperwork is sometimes a shambles. You would be amazed at the level of apathy among employees. Show some promise. Ask about skills training, not just job-specific task training. (If you have had trouble with some of the training -- many trainers are not good trainers -- then see if you can sum-up why it was sub-optimal.)

What about general life goals? You might come across as a really interesting person, somebody to say hello to in the corridor. How's your Heavy Metal Rock Band getting on? (Communication => networking => opportunities.)

HR have their own agenda, but they can also help you. Many large firms have all sorts of staff development schemes.

  • Don't sign anything whatsoever unless you're 100% happy with it
  • Watch out for, and insist on clarification of, fudge words like 'in the future' and 'we'll see how that goes'. For example HR:"Maybe we could discuss that at a later date." You:"When?" or HR:"Can I put you down as being interested in transferring?" You:"I'll need a lot more details first. So no-not yet."

Gripes (and suggestions) about the daily grind should be discussed with your manager. This meeting is about your career. Good luck.

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This depends on the mores of the company. Most often this is not a good sign. But maybe this company is different than most and does this as a matter of course? Why not ask a coworker (that you trust) in confidence about it? Is this par for the course?

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This is the biggest red flag of all that you should be looking for a new job. NOW.

I mean it. Stop reading this answer, update your resume, send it to 10 companies (or more), then come back and finish reading. Go do that. Right now. I'll wait.

...OK, you applied to a bunch of companies now? We'll continue. The thing is, a 6-month update on your progress usually happens between you and your manager. Your manager will give you feedback, let you know what you need to do or stop doing, and give you a plan for what you're going to be doing in the future. This is all with regard to your work responsibilities, which is your manager's responsibility to manage.

When HR gets involved, it means there is something about this meeting that HR needs to be present for. And if you've only been there for 6 months, the probability of this being not good is very very high. Whether they will fire you on the spot, I don't know, but the probability that something like that will happen is extremely high and you should start preparing now.

Best of luck.

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    "a 6-month update on your progress usually happens between you and your manager" - I think the key word there is "usually". Not every company works the same. If this meeting is to fire them, there likely would've been a few other warning signs. If all other feedback has been good, I wouldn't worry about this too much. If worst comes to worst, a few extra days of job searching is probably not likely to make a big difference for most people anyway. – Bernhard Barker May 3 at 18:50
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    At our (small) company, HR talks to new employees after 3 months to ensure that they feel good about the company, that the onboarding process is going well, etc. It is a chance to get feedback about how we can do better, not about the employee themselves. If there was a problem, the manager would talk to them, not HR. – TBO May 3 at 20:50
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    "a 6-month update on your progress usually happens between you and your manager" - I've never seen this in my life. Your particular experience is not necessarily representative of the whole world. – Davor May 4 at 9:19
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    This answer is very right or very wrong. Perhaps riorio will later let us know what happened. – chux - Reinstate Monica May 4 at 17:07
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    I know that pretty much every thread on this site ends up with SOMEONE saying "red flag, find a new job!!!", but it's gone beyond a joke with this one. Satire can be funny, but this is a bit much, don't you think? Apart from anything else, it's too obvious. Nobody will possibly take it seriously when a fairly standard meeting scheduled months in advanced is declared to be "the biggest red flag of all". You need to be more subtle if you're trying to make people laugh. – BittermanAndy May 6 at 11:57

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