Undermined as a HR Administrator

Hi all,

I am looking for some advice regarding my current role, I am a HR Administrator for a large company for over a year now, and previously was a HR Officer that took redundancy in another company for 3 years.

We have a lot of dealings with site managers, who have their own HR Advisor they go to - but for example if I answer the phone regarding a sickness query or contractual query (which is part of my role) they refuse to speak to me and want to be put through to their Advisor - but I can happily answer what they need to know myself. For example a site managers advisor wasn’t in that day, I asked if there was anything I could help with, and I was told they want to be put through to someone that has ‘more experience.’

I never had this when I was a HR Officer, I feel since I have the Administrator title - no one wants to come to me even for basic queries which is part of my job role.  I am L3 CIPD qualified and halfway through my L5 Diploma. 

I have my appraisal coming up this week and I want to put across how undermined I feel in my role, I feel my manager doesn’t want to take how I want to progress seriously. I have asked to shadow the Advisors but I have been ignored. How can I bring this up in a positive but firm way? 

Any help would be appreciated. 

  • Hi Caitlin

    I think you are facing the challenge everyone in HR faces at some point: gaining credibility. In HR we rarely have the authority to enforce management compliance. We have to establish ourselves as authorities. At the moment, managers know and trust their HR Advisors and don’t see you as someone who can provide the advice they are looking for. Shadowing the Advisors won’t help you with this because your problem is nothing to do with the knowledge and experience you have; it is about the trust they have (or not) in you. You need to find opportunities to demonstrate your competence to them.

    Could you get out and do some site visits? You need to find some ways for the site managers to get to know you. At the moment you’re just a voice on the phone who puts them through to the person they actually have a work relationship with. Could you get the Advisors to signpost the managers to you to deal with some of their queries?
  • Couldn't agree with Elizabeth more. They need to see a face out on the site/s perhaps?

    And the next time someone phones you with "I'd like to speak with someone more experienced", simply reply:- "Well so and so isn't here, so try me".

    You line manager may not necessarily care about your future and as for your appraisal, then thats what it is for. Tell your manager what you've just told us, especially the last paragraph, and if necessary just repeat it until he's acknowledged it!!±. (Easier for me to say it sat here of course)
  • Ultimately, your progression is only of interest to your LM to the extent that it makes his or her life easier. If answering routine inquiries is part of your job and, instead, such inquiries are going to the Advisors, then their day is being eroded by poor communication of the purpose of the Administrators.

    The argument to make to your LM, therefore, is that her team is not being used efficiently if Administrators are seen as HR's receptionists.

    That said, qualifications and experience aside, you are in a bottom rung role so it isn't possible to undermine you. You're already at bedrock. Upwards referral is a practice that protects you and the company: you are protected from the accusations of managers ("But Caitlin said...!") and the company is protected by ensuring that professional advice is given only at a certain minimum level of authority. Rather than undermined, what you feel is undervalued, but others have already given some excellent advice on how to have your ability valued by your colleagues.
  • Hi Caitlin

    I know how you how you feel as i'm in a similar situation. I have been with my company for a year now as an assistant, we dont currently have an advisor mostly likely wont be getting one soon. I have been asked and want to take on more advising tasks to progress to the next level and my manager is very supportive. However the managers will always go to her first by phone and email. I agree with the others, try and get yourself out there more.

  • In reply to Robey:

    Hi Caitlin

    I agree with Robey, obviously it depends on how your company is set up but I'd personally not expect a lot of hands-on HR involvement only 1 year in at HR Admin level in a large company with its own Site HR Advisors.

    Bear in mind this could have come from the HR Advisors themselves to their Site Managers, to only go through them even if day to day queries. There have been a times in the past where I've had a few similar queries from the same site, and after some probing its been indicative of larger issues, but in isolation they were fairly simple day to day queries. If someone else is involved it could potentially dilute the HR Advisors overall knowledge of how their site is ticking over, effectively undermining their role.

    In your shoes I'd definitely mention it, I'd steer clear of "feeling undermined" and focus on just wanting to get a bit of clarity on the role and remit so you know where you stand. Perhaps there's a particular site you could be assigned as back-up to?

    Ultimately though this may be the way the company prefers to operate their HR model.
  • As well as the other excellent advice given here, I'd really suggest building your relationships with the Advisor team. If you were to reach out to them and ask for a 1:1 with each of them to determine how they'd like to be kept informed if you answer questions from their site managers. So you might offer that if you take a call with a sickness query, that you'd answer it by phone but follow up with an email of that advice, copied to the HR Advisor. It gives them confidence to refer questions to you (and I don't imagine for a minute that they're being territorial about this) because they know they'll be kept in the loop. This might also be a positive suggestion that you could follow up with your line manager too.
  • I would suggest providing the advice anyway. Follow up the phone enquiry with a message to say you have passed the query on. Provide initial advice based on the query with an "in the mean-time" approach. Copy in the advisor and say that they will be in touch with the manager on their return. This way you are building your credibility with both the manager and the advisors.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    27 Aug, 2019 12:34

    Hi - did you try any of the suggestions above?

    How are things going?