HR as a Scapegoat!

A scapegoat is defined as someone who is punished for the mistakes of others.

I thought of writing this, as one of the cases being discussed in the forum was about Operations people blaming HR department for some failures.

Amusing isn’t it? but still we have all faced it at some point of time in our organizations. We as HR professionals are punished or blamed for what some other department or may be the owner is doing.

Sometimes, people even forget that HR people are also employees and do not take all the decisions on their own, they also have a reporting structure and a decision making authority is above them, still the blame for anything goes to “yours truly” the HR department.

Be it delay in opening bank accounts, salary transfer delays, low ratings during appraisals, bad hire, policy implementation, less or more training, low hikes, less salary…and what not. You name it and our fraternity has taken the blame.

The case which is being discussed talks about whether the HR department can be made accountable for the failure of the operations team, what do you think?

If it is a case of Bad hire, then obviously single handedly one cannot blame the HR department as operations people must or should have taken part in the recruitment process.

If it is the case of Non performance, then what were the senior officials doing? Sleeping when the performance was going below par? What were they up to? What about the internal checks, KRAs and performance reviews? Do you really think only HR department needs to control all these things. The answer is- no.

Then why are we being treated like that, because when you are dealing with 100 different cultures, 100 different backgrounds, 100 different personalities and yes with different attitude these things are bound to happen.

Yes, this is the only department that takes the responsibility when they are not able to solve the problem of any employee, or to be honest we get the blame as we do not communicate properly or in abundance.

  • It is our failure actually to not communicate properly, if it is about delay in opening of bank accounts, tell the employees clearly that you are just a mediator between a bank and the employee, the delays can come from the side of the Bank if the documentation or paper work is not complete.
  • If it is about not giving enough hike in the salary, please communicate informally that HR department also works with budgets, there is a specific budget within which we have to finalize the salary hikes. So, how can we be held responsible for something like this?
  • Open communication channel always work where you are dealing with such diverse backgrounds, and yes, do not take unnecessary responsibility of dealing with everything on your own, involve people from other departments especially during recruitment.
  • Have SOPs, policies and procedures for everything, no matter how small the thing looks like make sure it is documented and clearly communicated.
  • Create a culture where there is no blame game, people take responsibility of their own actions and make sure they are accountable for certain things related to their work areas. Companies with such cultures of strong leadership do not come across such scapegoat kind of problems.
  • Process orientation is very important, for completely avoiding the passing of the ball in the organization. Process integration is one such solution where you have well defined process, where operations process ends, where Accounts department process starts everything should be clearly declared and decided. This reminds me of an example in one of the Textile Companies I worked for, if anything went wrong the scapegoat was the Administration department, if logistics department failed to transfer some goods from one place to another; it was Admin Dept.’s fault as they did not provide the driver on time. Bingo!! Does it solve the problem? No my dear it does not.

So just stop being a scapegoat, grow up and let the company grow with you. When the ball is in your court make sure you utilize it completely for the sole purpose of your and your company’s growth.

Dear friends and members of HR fraternity…do share your problems and solutions so that we all can grow together.

  • Pktbharat

    the above posted article is very true since we hav to act as a bridge b/w the employee & employer,so all the total responsibility cannot be laid on in our heads without any justification b’coz we are dealing with diversified culture,which cannot be moulded in a overnight span.

  • Rima_1227

    The above posted article is showing a true mirror. As I am fresher and started my career as HR, I am facing this sort of Problems but this article has given me a confidence to tackle the view of all diversified employees.

  • Brilliant job done ! This is such a topic which we all live and literally draw survival strategies for it. I remember I was told by one of my HR Heads , “HR is a thankless job. You will only be remembered for the mistakes and defects you make!” I agree , I have learnt a lot from resolving escalations. In the long run it did earn me a lot of respect.
    But, I love the way you have discussed how to resolve a blame-game situation with complete ownership. Looking forward to read how other readers manage situations like this.
    Congratulations once again !

  • Karthick

    nice article

  • Karthick

    very nice article HR as a scape goat.The article reflects what iam currently facing in my organization. Every single point reflects it.very nice article archana.
    by karthick

  • Saleem

    Perfect and very true artice. Thankxs for the info Archana.

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thank you everyone….I’m glad that you shared your inputs here. This article is very close to heart, as during my initial days had faced the similar problems but somehow i managed to came out with flying colors because of the way i dealt with people around me. This write up is based on true incidents and all the solutions mentioned can be practically implemented.

    This is the reason, in reply to some of the queries on forum, I mention that every thins cannot be resolved through techniques or methods sometimes what you need is just a Human touch and feel to problems.

    So go ahead fight the world with humility….and by Being Human…:)

  • wow really nice. this things i really had experienced in my work life.i liked it i will try to remind myself all these things

  • Rajivranjan67

    Yes Archna

    I am in line with you. I can still add upon other cases when the HR is blamed for
    generator not starting immediately, the lift having problem, employees being transferred, the car on hire in which the employees is travelling gets punctured or has breakdown, no parking space available, etc

  • Selvi

    Oh my god, bingo, so true, sometimes some freshmen will even give me a stare at the lift when the lift jerked…ha ha ha.

  • Aghav Kumar310

    reallty itzs good article helpful for who joined as new hr professionals.

  • kshantaram

    true, hr being an interactive department with all the managers and all the employees is expected to take the heat of the organization being good and polite to all at which hr could be generally good – but generally the personnel/salary sections especially are staffed with traditional or untrained staff who learn things on the job alike a clerical job and could lack conceptual, technical or soft skills and the needed sensitivity and act beurocratically shunting people for their queries and grievances or behaving defensively while there could lot of inaccuracies of data or delays in the matter owing to work pressueres, infefficiencies, etc while the accounting counterparts too do not co-operate on most occasions having a similar behavioural culture; ultimately the employees get irritated and complain to their managers or the top management and hr gets the bang becoming defenseless as some errors and mismanagement are obvious – salary deductions, tax deductions, benefits administration, quality of tea/coffee or the food, the punching machine not working, late coming rules, overtime rules, no administrative support to drop employees late night, etc. there could be policies framed but how efficiently they are communicated and administered and sensitivity in communication and proactivity in problem solving are critical for effectiveness of personnel/hr.

    equally the managers too do not co-operate in supporting hr in following policy or procedures, delay things like appraisals, attendance sheets, leave approvals, etc and then join employees in blaming hr keeping themselves safe because they as production or marketing managers of the organisation are more indispensable and close to the top management and use their clout in the process not taking collective responsibility for organisational effectiveness and culture. hr is consiered a service department at the beck and call of the top management and the managers. hr needs to be assertive but sensitive too while needs to educate the organisation on hr matters consciously, but may have to begin with internal transformation first setting the house in order atleast conceptually and behaviourally leaving the line managers defenseless.

    hope this gives a balanced picture of the phenomenon with organisations a long way to go including the top management avoiding emotional outbursts making hr a scapegoat for all the ills in the organisation. A CEO with right hr attitude could transform the organisation coaching the hr team too effectively providing the necessary policy and structural support including right well paid manpower, hris system, hr budget, autonomy, etc.

    humble regards/kshantaram

  • mishra.r

    Good observation sir, truly i am very happy for read this one……..

  • Simmi Shukla

    Good one ma’am, I hope non-HR guys will understand this

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thanks so much Mr. Shantaram…the insights provided by you have actually completed the writeup in a well deserved manner.

    Would look forward for more of your valuable contribution on other articles also,where you can share such insights.

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thanks Simmi….:)

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thank you Nabomita…HR can do many better things in organisation only when they stop being the puppet in the hands of the owners and senior management.

    Process Integration is one such thing which can bring autonomy for various department with clear cut accountability, leaving no such room for blame game.

  • Namratauppin

    thank you for the most important message you have given me as an HR to grow.

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thank you Namratauppin…I would be glad if it will be of any help to you and others.

  • Vidhi Saxena

    Very good article, nicely explaining the real time situation of HR department…Looking forward to read these kinds of articles & discussing such real time scenarios for better suggestions & solutions

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    True Silvi…I had experienced it all.. the glares, the stares and comments and what not. Its just unawareness that Administration and HR are two separate departments.
    Thanks for your comments.

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thanks Aghav…:)

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Great Vidhi…its a wonderful platform where we all can share our experiences and work out some new solutions for problems.

    Thanks for your appreciation…it motivates me a lot.:)

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thanks Mr. Mishra…

    But this is written by a madame’ not sir…:)

  • Nikhil Gurjar

    In the blame game, its always politicking that makes one win :-)

  • phani

    are the HR persons really acting as the bridge between the 2 Es. They always bends towards the management only.

  • S Bhaskar

    Yes Ms. Archana

    you are 100% true in the above article. Always the Administration only will be blamed in any case. Why work started late? (Morning conveyance vehicle was not in time) Why production or productivity less (due to non availability of Motivational factors or the workforce moved for tea or snacks and coming late – administration failed to provide in time) Why materials not received in time (earlier payment was not made or withheld) etc. etc, etc………………………….

    As like above, if we want to avoid such blame-game, we should not keep the ball in our court, and whenever we receive any mail or request for any task, immediately we must act fast and communicate the same immediately to all the concerned about the present position and its accomplishment from HR/ Administration side.

    Nice to see such thought provoking article Ms. Archana

  • Katkuri Mounika

    Very truly said… HR roles consists of all the departments… it will integrate all the departments… if the company is growing that is only due following proper HR policies…. HR take the whole responsibility and intern get blamed for improper reasons…. thats not at all fair… but in other way as a HR its makes us strong enough to face any problem and to come out with effective solutions..

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Hi Monika. every department and function has a specific role to play for achieving common goals of an organisation, HR’s role in many companies is not yet properly defined, which creates problems as mentioned above, and sometimes HR being an integral part takes extra responsibilities outside their work areas, which then creates problems when expectations does not meet….

  • Anurag Singh

    This is called experience makes us perfect, really good, all the best, expect more frm you “a true/real life of HR”

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Hey Thanks so much Anurag….we will try to match up to your expectations…:) keep reading..

  • Subhanmsw

    Subhan JSW Mining

    great Madam realy apreciable…

  • Raj Puni

    “Perception of HR” is an issue that HR must address. HR has been one of the most maligned departments in many organizations during recession and thereafter and its efforts to limit attrition were largely underestimated. Not only does HR has to improve its image in the eyes of employees but also it has to strengthen ties with other business departments.

    Research shows HR is still seen as a back-office, transactional and operational function in most of the organizations. HR departments must examine their effectiveness and the way they deliver services to ensure it becomes a high-performing function. Experts suggest HR outsourcing as an important solution. It enables HR to decrease its administrative burdens and practice a more direct approach to business needs.

    Moreover, HR has to prove its worth and become business partners and be profit center rather than the cost center which is again the perception in most of the organizations. Since the role of HR managers has not been clearly defined in many organizations therefore the axe always falls on HR personnel. However, I can assure you that the HR department will remain so long as the the Word “Management” exists because they are the best bet for the role of managing people in an organization. HR professionals will need to act differently and play an active role and need to appear as new Avatar. They have to play the role of a strategist, innovator and alchemist.

    Col R K Puni (Retd)
    Associate Prof.
    IBMR, Chichwad, Pune

  • Sarvesh Tiwari (Exec. HR)

    excellent article….

  • S P Nayak

    very very nice, personally i was bit tensed & get relieved and idea as well. Thank you so much … Keep posting Madam

  • Sumajaikumar

    true but HR is always considered s cost center and not given importance as operations.The employees feel the HR is deducting the amount from his salary and HR is responsible. Employee forget that HR is also a team of employees and they act as management decides.,

  • D. Thaker

    Well said mate. But HRs are doing what goal-keeper/wicket-keeper are doing. You take 1000 catches or make 1000 saves but people will rremember 1 miss. A Thankless job. gear yourself up for blames before you join-in.

  • It Professional Ahmedabad


    These are cold wars actually with business minds & HR s….

    Criticism is the phase of professional life till you get the position,power, authority……It gets increased when actually you are going upwards…..gradually it will decrease if only it has been handled ,digested appropriately by the victim…

    It was a right saying if you don’t like the rules, work hard, struggle till you die, reach the top,& change the RULES.

    This is applicable for all the professionals from all the fields not only HR…..
    The difference is people from other fields gets criticized by their own boss or within own team & actually these unhappy people including those bosses keep blaming HRs……

    HR Male / Female need to play the role of he mother in the organization…who just know how to do,give indefinitely………..for the child…..that is the mass …Human being…..without any expectations………..& can even die ….same like mental status …they are always taken as if its their duty…..just like taken for granted…..

    anyways…..feeling great to poar my own emotional bursts while writing this….

    For which I am very thankful hearty we all are not just writing here own views….but you are doing the healing process… this….which is a spiritual soul only can do.

    on behalf of the mass ,Thanks again….
    for this noble cause to uplift the mass internally

  • Vachinna

    really superb because i go throuogh this kind of experience in my carrier

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thanks to you Vachinna for such wonderful words of appreciation… .this is the saga of many HR professionals, how people stare when they don’t get coffee/tea on time, when their appraisals ratings does not match their expectations and blah blah blah….. Thanks again!!

  • PCsoni

    I am a HR executive in CIL by this article my true experiance is explained

  • PCsoni

    In our organisation the function of HR department is such defined that there is neither limitation nor end. In office HR executives works as Personnel Manager, Office Administrator, Attendance & Salary, CMPF, Legal matters, Industrial Relation, Welfare, Recruitment, DPC, Promotions etc. In clubs or other programmes as event manager, co-ordinator etc. The company people view as “Khan-Pan” department. In the shortage of hands & resources they have to work in different ways.

  • Ijsubhi

    this type of the problem is in every department . hr is not responsile but the concern department is mediator betwwen the managment of operation head and the concern party .

  • Jvravin

    Hi All

    I am working in Sr HR position in  a Software MNC , I too face the same problem…

    1. Management thinks HR is a support depart like Finance & Admin dept…

    2. They think HR is not a billable dept as like the production dept…they bring in revenues for the company…

    But i am unable to accept the same cause i believe HR is  the backbone of any organisation,,,Hr Guys recruit people and take care activities like Induction,Training, Salalry, Grievance handling , try to reduce the attrition rate, Take measures to Retain employees, taking care of the welfare of employees etc…

    the management also having a 2nd thought in giving good compensation for hr staff

    I don’t understand why Management is looking the Hr people as a support depart or backoffice dept….Do every company look HR deprt as the same as HR is not a billable dept or bring revenue for the company…

    Friends kindly advise me how to tackle this…What are the points we need to highlight to the management to convince them that Hr function is equally important like other operations in any organisation

    Do we need to concentrate on any other areas to support tge same


  • Vaishali Jain

    I agree with you very well,, because i faced these problems in my last company.

  • Raj Puni

    Dear Madam.

    Nice to share your views and tips for the excellent way to deal with the people in the organisations where people of different personalities, background and cultures come together to meet their own objectives. I would like to give my personal opinion that modesty, patience, uprightness and professionalism in your own domain will help in dealing all the interested parties i.e Superiors, peers and subordinates. HR being a buffer has to act like a professional staff officer who has adequate expertise to deal with the problems which will force the people to bank upon you and in turn enhance your image in the organisation.

    HR being generally dominaed by the females should not become scapegoat and take the things lyingd down. Best of luck


    Col R K Puni(Retd)
    Associate Professor

  • Kiran munsif

    Oh my God!this is simply what i am experiencing now a days . it seems like u have given words to my thoughts. cure without going to doctor . love you <3 for this and will hope to have more articles like this. 
    May God bless you. 

  • Geetumishra2009

    It was a very good article..As I’m a fresher, I’m yet to experience all this..but yes its hard to bridge the interests of both employees n the superiors..AND the title is eyecatching..thnanks for the post

  • This is totally thankless job. If the salary is on time, wages hike is good, every thing related to administration is working fine. No one will appreciate your work because they feel that everything is being managed as usual. there is no role of any HR or Administrative people in this, but once the thinkgs go out of track, all there and move the gun point on HR people. If the taste of food in canteen is not good, HR people is to be blamed as the are the cook, if salt is sharper in food, HR person is to be blamed.
    But if the food is good and everything is working fine, they feel that things are inborn right to have the thing in tone….