Subjectivity and the HR profession

Basing the profession’s work on “gut feelings” gets HR nowhere.
By Kunle Akingbola
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/01/2001

We all know that it is impossible to enact legislation, policy or guidelines for every issue employers will encounter in the workplace. Specifically in human resources, we deal with a wide array of issues from day to day that are outside the realm of HR-related legislation and the numerous policies and procedures of our organizations. These issues often have a thin line between objectivity and subjectivity.

The consequence of this is that we are constantly required to consult on issues with no previous precedence in our organization or acceptable best practices from other organizations. This inevitably makes room for purely subjective perspective. The danger in such situations is that our feelings and gut reactions can overshadow our professional judgement. We can therefore ( knowingly or unknowingly) cloud our professional judgement with our subjective opinion.

The fact that our professional judgement should be based on the undiluted analysis of situations, issues, or facts is under-emphasized in the discourse among human resources practitioners. I’m starting to think that there is an urgent need for the incorporation of basic ethics training in human resources education and professional development.