Thursday, February 01, 2007

A great quote about Human Resources

"Human Resources is where large organizations relegate managers who are incompetent with both money and inventory, but can't quite get fired. You don't need any skills to be an HR manager, you just need to administer multiple choice tests and ask how people feel!"

-a good friend who is in Senior Management at a large Canadian company who prefers to remain anonymous, oddly enough.*

*apparently what set him off was this article on my blog.

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1 comment:

Flatland Pastor said...

Although I am probably the last person who would typically come to the defense of the HR department I think I should relate an incident when HR did the right thing and I believe earned their pay.

In my career as a retail manager I thankfully had few experiences with troubled employees, however on one occasion I was forced to deal with an extremely diffcult person. This employee had an excellent performance record until they were awarded a high recognition for their performance. Shortly thereafter this employee began exhibiting several unacceptable behaviors, including extreme tardiness.
I addressed the issues and documented our interactions but no improvement was forthcoming. In addition the employee became increasingly insubordinate in a number of areas. I don't wish to seem overly defensive here but I want to state that my management philosophy was always to do whatever I could within reason to help my employees perform well. My goal was always to create as supportive and positive a work environment as possible because I sincerely believed (and I still do) that this would foster a win-win experience for all involved. In almost 20 years of reatil supervision and management I only ever had to dismiss one employee for cause.
Finally, the employee went beyond creating problems within our store and had an altercation with a cashier at another business in the mall we were situated in. The incident was so severe that the manager of that store called me to complain and insisted I address the issue with the employee. The employee was wearing our standard work outfit at the time including the supplied company nametag. It had been obvious to everyone who witnessed the incident where this person worked, thus their actions reflected poorly on our company.
I interviewed the employee in the presence of my assitant and addressed the matter with a letter that was signed by myself, my assistant and the employee. What followed was to be even more bizarre.
The employee complained bitterly and repeatedly to my supervisor who eventually ordered me to remove the letter from the employee's file. This of course totally undermined my authority (or what little of it I had left). In addition and unknown to me the employee began to call our national HR department daily to complain about me. This continued for nearly three months until I was visited unexpectedly by the national manager of HR and the national manager of Security and Risk Management.
If J.K. Rowling had been a household name at the time I would have ended up as the "Harry Potter" of our company as a visit from this pair always resulted in a dismissal or worse. I became "the manager who lived". After a hour long interview wherein it became obvious we were dealing with an employee who was beyond our mutual ability to deal with the HR manager said, "Thank you for the way you handled this. In just about any other case we probably would be facing an expensive legal battle to end this." Ultimately the employee went on "stress leave" and did not return to work.
I spent almost half a year in retail purgatory and both the HR and Risk Management managers agreed that my supervisor had made my position worse, not better. He kept rolling right along and never even mentioned the visit to me, although he knew it was going to happen before I did.
Sometimes the incompetent managers aren't in HR and when the ones who are there are competent it's a good thing they have your back.