I am a senior manager at a small not for profit organisation. Whilst I and our CEO was on leave recently our HR Manager made each of my team meet with her on an individual basis. At these meetings she told them about a recent exit interview that she performed on an ex-team member. She had not discussed this interview with either myself or the CEO. The interview displayed that the ex-employee was not happy with me. This was to be expected as I had disciplined the employee on several occasions and the HR Manager attended each of these meetings. She pushed each of my team to complain about me. Upon my and our CEO's return from holidays she complained that all of my team had complained about me.

We have since carried out a staff survey. The results of this survey clearly show that my team do not have any complaints and are quite happy. After declaring the survey results my team have come to me individually and told me what happened whilst I was on leave.

I feel that I am obliged to complain about the HR Manager's behaviour. What are your thoughts?

  • 1
    complain to whom?
    – Kilisi
    Mar 18, 2017 at 1:49
  • 1
    @Kilisi In the US, many companies have anonymous or semi-anonymous hotline for reporting compliance or ethics violations. That will be channeled up to corporate governance/audit via a process that's in a written policy, and investigated.
    – alroc
    Mar 18, 2017 at 12:02
  • @alroc we have similar 'anonymous' stuff here, in practice everyone would know within a few minutes... perhaps US is a bit different.
    – Kilisi
    Mar 18, 2017 at 12:07
  • "I feel that I am obliged to complain about the HR Manager's behaviour." When faced with complaints about a superior, it's the responsibility of HR to investigate to some extent. Complaining about this will in the best case achieve nothing (water under the bridge) and in the worst case reflect badly on you.
    – pmf
    Apr 10, 2018 at 12:21

3 Answers 3


Definitely that person does not belong in HR. The goal of HR is to handle complaints and show that there is a solid process for handling complaints in place (which reduces employer liability in many jurisdictions). On the other hand, creating complaints when there is no real issue just increases the company's possible liability. Now there are a bunch of reports in HR against you and if, for example, one of your underlings accuses you of harassment down the road, it will look like the company did nothing about it all this time so they are on the hook.


So far you have a lot of hearsay. But if you have the authority you can displace this person. Or you can take up your concerns with the CEO.

You're not obliged to do anything over hearsay, but it's a possible morale issue if HR is maliciously trying to undermine management, and it's definitely not their role to be doing so, so this lady needs to be disciplined.


Be careful here. Even if the complaints are baseless, your employees will take this as a sign of how feedback is handled. It sounds like someone left because they were unhappy, so the HR manager checked for a fundamental problem, and (accidentally?) went too far. If so, disciplinary action could discourage people from going the extra mile in future.

Is there any part of the criticism that you could work with? The situation could be consistent with a team that feels unable to talk openly with management. It's hard to convince people in a small organisation that a survey is anonymous, so even those responses might not be as conclusive as they seem. By showing a willingness to respond even to partisan criticism, you might give someone the confidence to come to you with a more important issue in future.

If the HR manager really does have ill intent, there'll be plenty of next times. Then when you have to discipline her, you can point to your handling of this situation as a way to reassure everyone that you're on their side.

  • Regarding paragraph 1: According to the OP the employees went to him themselves in order to inform him about this, so I'd assume that won't influence future complaints.
    – Seth
    Mar 20, 2017 at 6:49

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