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Facing Human Resources in Mexico

This article is based on my own experience and cannot be generalized.

Human Resources policies are different across the globe and variate a lot according to cultures. By leaving France to live in Mexico with my better half, I experienced it and unfortunately not for the best. After hundreds of applications, phone calls and job interviews, here is the outcome of my observations:

1 – High distance with candidates and employees in general

I realized with time that human resources in Mexico are lowly accessible. It is difficult to obtain a direct phone number and to obtain a phone exchange with someone form human resources. As a matter of fact, it’s even harder to obtain an appointment.

In Mexico, Human Resources department are high in the company’s organigram. Why? Because hierarchy is a big deal. I am refereeing here to a strong vertical management: you will never see the CEO shaking the hand of the secretary, you will never see a high managerial position close to workers. Distance does matter according your position in the company’s hierarchy. If I think about France, we do not have a complete horizontal management style as it is the case in Nordic countries such as Norway or Sweden, but hierarchy is not as strong as in Mexico.

As Human Resources are high in the hierarchy they have a lot of decision power and also, a lot of control.

2 – Lack of honesty

I unfortunately noticed that human resources in Mexico are not fully honest and transparent. When you have a direct exchange with an HR person, things are pretty blurry. It happened a lot of times that people gave me hopes, tell me that it was just a question of time, that they will call me back, that it was administrative and so on…but ultimately, they just made me lose my time because in reality they were not planning to hire me. Why not having told me the truth?

I learnt (and I already mentioned it on the blog) that it’s cultural. In Mexico, facing a person directly and telling him “no” is perceived as an offense, so we prefer lying. Everything is better than having to face the person. To the contrary, not telling the truth in France is rude: in Europe in general, and this is especially the case of Northern Europe, we dare to say things to people. The emotional dimension is put apart. I wouldn’t say that feelings don’t matter but in a working environment, they come after.

3 – Few efforts in retention policies

In Europe, the financial crisis from 2008 strongly impacted the employment market and it’s hard to find a job despite your education level. However, employee rights are protected and in case of unfairness at work, people have resources to be helpt: unions, juridical procedures, associations…That it’s not completely the case in Mexico. If an employee faces an injustice at work, his possibilities to fix the situation will be limited. This is why, even though employees may face issues in their company, they will stay because they cannot afford the luxury to leave and being unemployed from a day to another. Finding a job is hard and they won’t be helpt out in case of unfairness. In this context, why deploying efforts to retain employees? Why human resources would dedicate time, money and energy to take care of its workers? This situation makes employees highly dependent on their company.

4 – Low consideration

Who says weak efforts in retention policies development says low consideration. I obviously won’t cite the company in this article but I remember once, having a job interview with a responsible of department. This person wanted to hire me as soon as possible and had a strong need to get someone quickly for the position. But instead of supporting her, human resources were acting as an obstacle. They never allowed me to meet them and argued to her that it was not her job to initiate a hiring process. I may understand that, but at the same time, they had no candidate. By being so “up” in the hierarchy, it seemed that they were disconnected from the needs of the company.

5 – The importance of networking and recommendation

I guess that everywhere in the world, it’s always easier to get a job through someone that you know who can for instance transmit your CV. I have nothing versus that, until the person hired will really be qualified for the position. However, recruitment from recommendation operates at a different scale across the globe, and in Mexico this tendency is really strong. It’s actually almost impossible to get a job without knowing people who can recommend you. That can make things easier for most people. But in my case, as a foreigner, it makes the process harder.

After having noticed that, here is what, according to me, should normally do human resources:

1 – Human Resources should develop processes to be the most equal as possible

Being the most equal as possible means treating people in the same way, avoiding favoritism or discrimination. Processes are needed for hiring policies in general, to conduct job interviews, for the well-being of employees, for evaluation and payrolls, for retention and for training.

2 – Human Resources must align its policies to the overall strategy of the company

The main objective of human resources is to serve the company, supporting it to implement its strategy and achieve its goals. I am not quite sure that when an HR department says to a department manager that it’s not his role to look for candidates but doesn’t have any candidates at the same time, is serving the company. What is behind that? After one year, I still don’t understand.

3 – Human Resources shouldn’t be reduced to an activity of CV scanner

It’s more! Scanning CV is probably the first step but human resources shouldn’t be reduced to that. Most of time, people who work for human resources have a background in psychology and/or in humanities. Why? Because the heart of their job is to deal with people. I mentioned the importance of processes because working for human resources requires to be straight. But is also requires to be human, to listen people, to be available for them. And I think that there’s still a lot of work to do in Mexico.

I am not an idealist. I am simply highlighting what could be improved. There are not perfect policies. There are not perfect countries. There is not perfect world. But our role as human beings is to make our world better. There will always be something to improve. There will always be something to turn greater. There will always be something to work on.

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