How HR can deal with a stubborn boss

August 14, 2019

As an HR representative sometimes it can be hard to deal with stubborn bosses in your organisation. This can bring up many implications, but what I’ve found to be more than often than not is that communication across all levels of the business from Human resources is the best place to start. 

Stan Kimer, President of Total Engagement Consulting explains that ‘HR needs to establish themselves as a part of the strategic leadership team within a corporation such that the senior leaders value and trust their input.

It seems quite straight forward but if HR is not respected from the top then its concerns of stubborn bosses will probably be discarded, that can result in negativity on the brand of the business, its productivity and create unneeded costs. 

As Professor Sir Cary Cooper explains in the future of People 2019, if anyone in a management role does not have people skills, they should not be in that role. Improving their communication skills for managers is vital to be able to create a happy work culture and the environment they’re in.

This is a good place to start to improve your managers communication, since it is a vital part of their job. But what happens if this doesn’t help? Or if more complaints aren’t resolved and it’s falling on deaf ears? 

Siddhartha Gupta, CEO, Mercer | Mettl makes some very interesting points. By backing your case with facts and various sources can help solidify if there is truly a problem and that boss is making it hard for their employees.


Cross-check facts with other team members as well as cross-departmental employees about the manager and his/her behavior how they feel approaching the manager for cross-departmental work? 

Does the manager make them uncomfortable?

Is his/her behavior coming in the way of productivity and performance? Also, check for other aspects of the team like participation, productivity, team attrition, and if there have been past unreported incidents of bad manager behavior.

Building a case can help justify this to the top, if they can’t understand why these complaints are being made. This can help show the damage a manager is making, showing themselves and the board their impact.

‘An effective HR communication in bad manager behavior episode is about showing such managers the bigger organizational picture and how their actions could have consequences. Help the manager understand how their actions and behavior are damaging the team’s morale and productivity and is harming the business bottomline’

A stubborn manager can ultimately affect the business itself. This would turn a few heads upstairs, especially if the integrity of the business is being affected by one of their managers behaviors. 

So if you’re dealing with a stubborn boss, communication is key to be able to make it right, whether it is training your manager in communication, understanding why the employees aren’t happy or showing the effect they’re having on the business. 

As an HR representative it is up to you to be able to recognise and deal with these problems. Which ultimately means that communication across the business with weekly meetings, one to ones and monthly catch ups can help bring these problems into the light. Communicating with the board and employees will help to give HR a voice and a place at the table. 

Stay ahead with HR

Get free HR insights, expert tips and exclusive interviews, and start making more impact at work

Please enter a valid email address

See People HR in action

View our short video demo

Get started absolutely free

No credit card required

Talk with an expert to learn how People HR could help your organisation