One of the most difficult parts about working in HR is navigating all the different relationships and their competing expectations.

It can feel impossible to make everyone happy because everyone has different priorities and expectations. 

From an HR team’s perspective, balancing all the competing expectations can sometimes be frustrating. 

Prime example: When a CEO demands everyone return to the office and the managers, employees and probably HR don’t agree. 

But… the key to HR’s success is securing the buy-in of their stakeholders. 


How else will we get ANY initiatives adopted and executed? Our work depends on others doing what we tell them to do! 

HR/People teams have 4 main groups of stakeholders:

✔️ Executives

✔️ Managers

✔️ Employees

✔️ Your HR team 

Each group has its unique challenges and requires a different approach. Let’s discuss those challenges and how you can handle them! 

The executive team:

For HR, executives can be one of the most challenging groups to work with. I chalk it up to:

  • Egos 
  • Bad habits 
  • Lack of perspective
  • Disconnected from what employees actually want 

These traits all culminate into a dysfunctional executive team. You know the one!

Where decisions can’t be made, direction changes every week, and bad habits trickle down into the culture. 


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That dysfunction impacts the culture and therefore every part of the HR job. 

Before you blame your HR team, take a peek at your executives. 

One more complicated layer: when you’re on an executive team as an HR leader you are also expected to coach your fellow leaders.  This needs its own newsletter.

How to work better with your executive team to secure buy-in:

  1. Align on expectations: HR can work on and with Exec teams in several different ways. Aligning on what will add the most value to the team will properly set expectations from the beginning.
  2. Build strong relationships: The stronger the relationship the more open your team will be to your feedback and path for improvements. It’s silly but something as small as asking about their day, life, passions can go a long way! 

The managers:

The number 1 complaint I hear from HR teams?

That their managers aren’t great. 

Truthfully, most companies don’t set up their managers for success and managing in the hybrid world isn’t easy!

Managers can be a challenging group to work with because:

  • It’s not instinct to be a great manager or coach
  • Feedback can be scary to give if you’re unpracticed 
  • Most managers have their own work they have to accomplish on top of managing, so basically two jobs. 

How to work better with your managers to secure buy-in:

  1. Don’t waste their time: there is too much on their plate to begin with so if you are going to ask your managers to do anything ask yourself: is this worth it?
  2. Ask them what they need: I’d put money down that a lot of managers would say training on how to give feedback. But without asking how would you know? I see training programs go off the rails and have low adoption when you don’t secure the buy in from the jump. Ask your managers what they need and they will be bought in. 

The employees:

Never has a GIF more properly explained how I sometimes feel working with employees. 

Employee engagement went down for the first time in over a decade. Most would point to the pandemic, hybrid work and the state of the world as reasons why. 

But, there’s another thing to consider… 

What employees want from their employer is changing. 

And that means HR teams are in for some challenges as we adjust! 

Employees can be challenging because:

  • Most don’t trust their employer or HR 
  • Connection in the remote world has suffered 
  • Layoffs have employees more anxious 

How to work better with your employees to secure buy-in:

  1. Earn their trust: If I hear HR ISN’T YOUR FRIEND one more time… but what it’s really indicative of is that employees don’t trust us. Close the say/do gap and see if you can build trust! Once employees trust you the paths you can take are endless! 
  2. Communicate: leave nothing unsaid. Especially in this current economy, employees need to hear from their company now more than ever. Communicating the WHY also leads to higher adoption and buy-in. 

Your HR/People team:

HR teams are basically The Avengers. We’re constantly off problem solving and saving the world. 

But with great power comes great responsibility and burnout

HR teams all over are struggling! The last 3 years we’ve seen more and more be added to HR’s plate and it doesn’t feel like it’s stopping…

Why your HR team can feel challenging:

How to work better in your HR team:

  1. Prioritize everything: Don’t take on more than your team can handle because that will lead to burn out. Every week revisit the list of projects/tasks and ask yourself is this important this week? If the answer is no, punt it! Don’t waste your precious energy or time on something that isn’t a priority. 
  2. Take care of your team: Encourage your team to take vacation, enjoy guilt-free downtime and find balance. This job can be draining and an exhausted HR team has a hard time being productive. Getting buy-in from a team that’s tapped out? Impossible. Taking care of your HR team takes care of your entire org! 

My course on HR Diplomacy will dedicate a week to each of these groups to go deeper into securing buy-in from these groups and how to balance competing expectations. Secure your spot! You won’t want to miss this course because this newsletter has barely scratched the surface.

Hebba Youssef
Hebba Youssef

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