When It’s Best to do Nothing

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

We have an interesting situation evolving at our advisory firm. We are about 40 people and just last year we finally hired someone in an HR role. She is in charge of some operations areas but her primary responsibility is supposed to be HR. She has two junior people working for her in support roles – they are mostly supposed to be ops/client service but they get involved in HR activities too.

My role is to oversee our advisors and I am an advisor myself – I play a team-lead role. However, somehow I have been anointed as the confidant for many people in the firm. I am having other advisors come to me to complain about the person filling our HR role.

She is irascible and gossips. She will tell people about the confidential issues other team members bring to her attention. It’s becoming well known that there are no secrets in HR. I don’t know whether her junior service people know this is happening, or whether they are party to it. It doesn’t seem my place to pull them aside and ask them to tattle on their boss. But I have to wonder if they have been impacted too.

I’m in a tough spot. This person is HR, but she is actually part of the problem. She is new to our firm; when I spoke to our owner he told me I wasn’t giving her a chance – I should consider myself charged with supporting her, not betraying her! Is there anything I can do? I am not comfortable confronting her on my own. She scares me a bit and I don’t want to find myself in a position where I’m considered the problem. I’m not sure whether I have a responsibility when people are bringing these issues to me. Do I ignore it or try and get through to her? Do I put my own fears aside and take a bullet for the team?