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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Time for a change

It was March 2009 when I started this blog. I started for a number of reasons. Inspiration from a fellow blogger (although she falls in the uber blogger class not the pond life class like me!), the desire to write and express myself after many years of suffocation and frustration with some of the boring self-centred, timid, introverted nonsense that was written by and for HR people.

The last 8 months have been ridiculously hard for a number of reasons, none of which I need go into. Writing and being able to express myself (however inanely) has become more important to me than I would ever have imagined. The fact that there are people out there who want to read and comment on what I write surprises me every day.

A few weeks ago, as an early Christmas present for myself, I bought a new domain name. The idea was that I would steadily work on moving my blog over and launch it in the new year. I have been working on setting this up and although some of the technical changes have been harder than I thought, I had advice and support on the way.

Change, however, seems to be in the air at the moment. And this morning I decided to make the move to my new site earlier than planned. It's not quite ready yet, its a work in progress. But I hope you'll like it and I hope you'll join me there. And to those that helped me get here (and you know who you are) you have my eternal thanks and gratitude.

The HRD has move house to www.myhellisotherpeople.com

(This page will soon redirect automatically)

Friday, 13 November 2009


When I started out into the world of work it was just at the tail end of a recession. Jobs were tough to come by……very tough to come by. And the same old stories were being played out. In order to get the job you needed experience, but in order to get experience you needed………

I applied for hundreds of jobs…..HUNDREDS. Hours and hours spent completing application forms, tailoring my CV, taking visits to the post office. And each day I watched and waited as the post man came with a handful of letters, most of them rejections but on the odd occasion this would be interspersed with a letter telling me that they were no longer recruiting for the role at all!

Believe me, rejection is not something that you get used to. Rejection is not a pleasant feeling or experience. I kept all the letters. I still have the somewhere. I kind of figure that if these companies didn’t want to take a chance on me back then why the hell should I give them the use of my skills and services now?

To this day, I always take care when I am telling a candidate they haven’t been successful. I think about how it feels to receive that letter or that call. To be told that you are not wanted. You are not good enough. You do not have sufficient value. I ask you all to do the same.

Because rejection…..it sucks.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Show me the money

It's an HR nightmare.................

Imagine if the top 100 people within your organisation had their salaries and business expenses published. Then, imagine if they were published online.

If you work for the venerable BBC, the nightmare has just become a reality. You can now go online and see the salaries and detailed business expenses here.

I've had a dig around my colleagues in HR and believe me they better be HR ninjas for the amount some of them are on. I'm talking gold plated performance management systems and diamond encrusted talent management programmes......

But to be fair, they probably have their work cut out getting anyone to do anything just at the moment, other than surf the net and bitch about how much their bosses are earning.

And remember......they are doing it all out of public money!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Tipping point

We all know the HR thing, you know the one.......the "we're not taking seriously" thing. The "nobody loves us" thing. And before you click away, I'm not going down THAT path! As posted chez Laurie this week, I only have a finite time on the planet and I've wasted enough time on that debate already!

Instead I want to ask you about confidence. And more importantly when confidence becomes arrogance.

I am good at my job. This is a fact. I know this because of the feedback I get and because of the progress I make. One of the things that makes me good is confidence.

When I arrive at an organisation, walk into a room, meet with someone for the first time, I need to show them that I know my stuff, I know that I am good and I know that I can add value. I've learnt from working with several CEOs that if you are timid you are done for. If you hesitate, contradict, stumble, mumble, fumble.....you are not going to get their time, their attention or their backing.

But....and this is a big but (no sniggering at the back please).....I often get called arrogant. And not once or twice, but on a reoccurring basis throughout my life.

Now I don't think I'm arrogant. In fact in many, many circumstances and in a large part of my life I am critically lacking in confidence and self-belief. But clearly there is something in the way that I hold myself or behave that makes people think that I am arrogant.

So my question is, is there a difference between self confidence and arrogance and if so what is it? And in some professions, do you need to have greater levels of self confidence/arrogance to survive?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

It's a cartoon....that's all

I am agog, I am aghast....no Marius is not in love at last. But the lunatics HAVE finally taken over the asylum........

Imagine the scene.....it's Sunday morning and I'm sitting with a nice cup of coffee having just consumed some dead pig in bread, reading the papers....it's a scene of tranquility, of peace.

Then I come across the following headline,

"Safety Expert Wants Cartoon Violence Rating"

Cue much spluttering and spraying of aforementioned caffeinated liquids.

Its true. The world has well and truly gone mad. The "expert" in question is Dr. Karen Pfeffer a "senior lecturer at Lincoln University and an international mentor for the World Health Organisation". She will be publishing the full paper later this month entitled "Risk and injury portrayal in boys' and girls' favourite television programmes" so we can all look forward to reading the details in-depth.

In the meantime the report in The Observer this morning, the good Doctor has been watching kids programmes and is troubled by the lack of consequences to violence - particularly in the case of Scooby-Doo, Batman, X-men and Ben10, "The problem is that these characters engage in risky behaviours and experience great violence but the negative consequences of dangerous behaviour are usually not portrayed".

Ok. STOP. Is it me? Please tell me it isn't.......

Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner
Tom and Jerry
Bugs Bunny and Marvin the Martian
Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd

I don't remember seeing the negative consequences of an anvil being dropped on your head, or being blown up by your own home made bomb from the A.C.M.E corporation, or having your gun blocked and it blowing up in your face. In my memory, these guys, got up, dusted themselves down and started again.

But maybe time and wine has addled my memory?

It is bad enough that someone has done this piece of research in the first place (and I hope for every one's sake not a penny of public money was wasted on this nonsense) but I would hope that a sensible newspaper like The Observer would treat this with the disdain it merits....but no. They report, "her findings will reignite the debate about the effect of violent imagery on the young".

No it won't. It will raise the question as to why there are so many academics researching completely pointless topics of no benefit to the public, why we are vilifying the young and trying to sanitize their lives beyond belief and why we have forgotten the meaning of fun.

Its a cartoon......that's all.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

A question

Ask yourself this:

You are on your death bed with hours to live and your children/grandchildren come up to the side of the bed. The hold your hand and look into your eyes. They squeeze your hand and ask you, "How should we live our lives? What is the one most important thing you can tell us about how we should be what we should do?"

What would you tell them?

Now ask yourself this.......are you true to your own advice?

Monday, 2 November 2009

Bah humbug

Refreshed from a week of walking and climbing (and drinking) in and around Hadrian's Wall, I should be in better spirit. But once again the dark powers of the evil twin Gods "Doom and Gloom" have conspired to make me want to take arms against the world and beat them to death with an over ripe pumpkin before shoving a plastic glow-in-the-dark skeleton, somewhere REALLY dark.

Let us be clear.

It is not Christmas. It is November. And only just November at that.

Therefore I do not want to return to an inbox of drinks and lunch invites (yep....still no PA).

I am not interested in Marvin the Magnificent and his Magical M*********ing Montage - available at improved rates - yep, no surprise there!

And as for "we need to communicate the Christmas working hours, so people can confirm their plans".......

Work. That's what their plan should be. Work and then stop. On 24th December.

Bah Humbug.......

Monday, 26 October 2009

The HRD is away

Climbing hills.

Normal service will resume on 2 November.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Conversations with the CEO

Regular readers will have noticed that I have not recently had a conversation with the CEO.

So have I.

If anyone sees a slightly mad, swearing, manic individual can they place let me know?

We need to talk.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The King's Shilling

A long time ago, but not in a galaxy far far away, accepting the King's shilling signalled your willingness to serve in the army or navy. It was a commitment to do your duty. The press gangs used to use all sorts of nefarious tactics to get people to accept the King's shilling...including slipping it into a tankard of beer. The view being that when you finished your beer and looked at the shilling....you'd accepted it.....and hence why you can get tankards with a see-through base.

I mention this because I used this phrase yesterday with one of our Directors. To be honest, the guy is one intransigent fucker and in this specific scenario has been happily sitting on his hands for months rather than carrying out a piece of work that we need doing. Why? Because he doesn't agree with the request.

We've had the debate, we have heard the arguments and we have decided on our path. He doesn't agree so he is not doing what he needs to. His boss has had repeated exchanges and so I suggested I do the old Mystic Meg routine and "predict his future". We danced around the subject for a while before we got to the main issue. His view was that he was happy to "put forward the company's view". My response was "you are the company".

The practice was not illegal, or he could have used Whistle blowing legislation. It wasn't even grey. He just doesn't agree.

My view? No-one slipped this in your beer. You take the King's shilling you do your duty.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Gender Bender

I’ve spoken before about gender stereotypes and work, but something happened this week that really gets my goat. I’m involved in a voluntary capacity at my local school, which is a village, state school for 5-12 year olds. The school is lucky enough to have two male teachers. I say lucky because I believe male teachers are hugely important role models for boys at this age and there are not enough of them in the profession.

One of the teachers is relatively new. It came out in conversation that the village witches had been gossiping about this guy and casting aspersions about his sexuality. Apparently it was their conclusion that he was gay. Unfortunately I wasn’t there when the conversation took place (or maybe fortunately), because I would have had one or two things to say about the matter.

What the hell does a teacher’s sexuality have to do with their ability to teach? If he was gay, does that really matter? But….perhaps….just perhaps the actual undertone here is something different....something more sinister?

Are these people having the same conversation about the women teachers? My outraged reaction was something along the lines of, “well that witch is fat and ugly and wears trousers all the time so she must be a dyke”. But are they wondering whether the nice Miss.Y from class 3 actually likes sleeping with corpses because she wears black a lot? Or Miss. Z who wears shorter skirts than most spends her weekends partaking in Romanesque orgies?

No, it’s because he is a man. And a man who “god forbid” is working in a predominantly female profession. Ergo sum he is gay and probably a kiddie fiddler to boot. The same conversations were murmured in the darkest recesses of the playground about the other male teacher, but he’s been around for a number of years now and since Special Branch haven’t swooped in and confiscated his computer, I guess he must be ok……?

Years ago I went for an interview with a major pharma. It was a long process and at the final stage, I waited a long time for feedback. The call from the head-hunter eventually came: “they really like you, you have all the skills and experience they are looking for, it’s just, well, they think you’re a bit…….gay…..” So I told them to go f***k themselves….up the arse. It doesn’t matter that I am married. That I have two kids. I’m a man, in a predominantly female profession. Therefore I MUST be a homosexual. And anyway, what if I was?

And it’s the same case for this guy. He has a girlfriend. I’ve met her. But I guess that counts for nothing to the school yard witches.

If you’re a man, in a woman’s world……well hell, there must be something wrong with you.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Sanity is not a competency

In our time I’m sure we have all come across our fair share of lunatics. Normally through job applications. You know the ones? The fantasists, the dreamers, the clinically insane….

Now I know that someone is probably going to call me for picking on the mentally unstable, but seeing as I have done the fat, the stupid, the ugly and women. I figure what is there to lose? Why alienate 99% of your readers when you can go for the big 100? Yes you. You know who you are.

I received this job application from Philip.

Philip was kind enough to apply for a job that I wasn’t advertising at a Company that I don’t work for. But I don’t think that should come between a potential employment relationship.

He is applying for the job because he thinks he would find it “easy and interesting”. So, you know, I’m kind of liking the guy by now.

His salary request for £300,000 per annum seemed a little steep, especially considering he could only work Monday to Wednesday. But his request for a £4,000,000 joining fee did start to raise some questions.

Fortunately he informs me that “the reports and results [he] produces are second to none”. So I’m starting to think that golden handshake might just be worth it….

There are a few gaps on the CV though, but Philip helpfully points out that he has recently been “helping various people overcome personal grief, and also with helping them with various problems and generally being sociable (WITHOUT REMUNERATION)”.

But just when I was about to pick up the phone, the bombshell. Philip informs me that “very fortunately indeed [he] has no ties with any of the companies that [he] has worked at”. He has, “never worked for the same company twice”. And “This will remain the case”.

You had me won over until there Philip. But company loyalty? It’s a must.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

When negotiations turn sour.......

IDIOT: No offence.........but I need to talk to the organ grinder and not the monkey.

HRD: (After a pause and a pretend phone call). Right I've spoken to the organ grinder and......"no offence".....they think you only warrant the monkey.

Friday, 9 October 2009

The sounds of another icon turning to dust

Think of Britain and what do you see? Rolling fields, rain, warm beer, cricket. And how about postal boxes. The red ones. An archetypal image of Britain. A symbol of this sceptered isle.

Not for long. Not if the Communication Workers Union has anything to do with it. Yesterday they voted by 3:1 in favour of industrial action. This on the back of several localised strikes that have led to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of letters being destroyed, lost or otherwise delayed.

Why are they striking? Because they say that management are "modernising too quickly".

The Royal Mail is already significantly less efficient than other mail providers and these days, businesses have the choice of who they use. Two of the big commercial users of the Royal Mail (Amazon and Argos) have already said they are putting in place alternative arrangements. What are the chances that they will come back post industrial action?

Joe Public, for the moment, does not have a choice of who it uses as mail provider (although the use of email must surely be another nail in the coffin). Combined with stories like this one. And the likelihood of a Tory government. How long before we start to hear the cries for the opening up of domestic postal services to competition?

Just like the Miners in the 1980's, the postal workers are bringing on the demise of the Royal Mail as we know it. Take pictures of those post boxes when you see them guys. Because soon, they'll be adorning novelty pubs and peoples back yards. And no longer a fixture on every street.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Bring out your dead......

There has been a mighty brouhaha in the UK HR community about this article which appeared in The Times on 5 October 2009 written by Sathnam Sanghera. Message boards and blogs are filled with arguments pro and con. These basically divide along two lines:

1) HR is a pointless function full of bureaucratic little dweebs who failed to make it into traffic warden school
2) HR is misunderstood by society and is more strategic than a strategic thing from strategy land….if it could only be taken seriously

I was approached by one of the main trade press to provide a rebuttal to Sanghera’s article and after considering it for a while, well if I’m honest, I struggled.

That’s not to say I agree with him whole heartedly, the article is poorly written, poorly argued and lacks any real substance other than Sanghera’s views. And seeing that his biog shows that on graduating from Cambridge University he went straight into journalism – his views don’t carry as much weight as many in my opinion.

But let’s face it; our profession IS probably one of the most neurotic professions in the world, constantly doubting and questioning its own worth and worrying about how it’s perceived. Like an abused partner that is constantly told they are worthless and meaningless, are we really surprised that we have some sense of neurosis?

And then this just gets worse as we start to harm ourselves. Read the blogs, look at the comments. Lets be self depreciating, because if we say we are pathetic then it won’t hurt so much when others tell us we are. Will it?

So we change how we look, alter our views and appearance, because maybe they’ll love me if I change? All a load of old tosh and a waste of time and energy.

Business Partner? My arse!

Let’s get some confidence, let’s get some swagger, let’s stop worrying and start performing. If people don’t take us seriously lets work to persuade them, to show them, to convince them. We have worth, we have value, we ARE lovable. And if they don’t understand…maybe that’s their problem and not ours. Maybe they have the issue.

If anyone is going to sound the death knell for Human Resources, it will be the profession itself and its lack of spine.

Sanghera has that much right, if nothing else.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Generation XY

I like to think I’m a bit of a new man. You know, in touch with my inner soft furnishings. I don’t just watch films about war and I’ve been to a musical. I can cook and get a lump in my throat watching Watership Down.

So much so, it seems that I could be mistaken for a woman.

This has happened to me once before when, in a bar in France, a lady who had consumed enough Pastis to intoxicate the entire Foreign Legion from behind a dune, tapped me on the shoulder and in a gravelly voice borne of smoking Gaulloises since the cradle, enquired, “mademoiselle?”.

That relationship never had a future……...

More recently it has happened in the blogosphere, which doesn’t really surprise me as a lot of HR people are women a lot of bloggers are women…so combine the two and Bob's your Auntie.

Anyway, it made me wonder this.

If we put aside the arguments about whether HR as a profession is any good or not for the moment and accept the stereotypes given to it (remember: we are as other people see us).

Is HR viewed as being un-commercial and ineffective because there are more women in it?

Or are women attracted to HR because its appeal is being less hard edged and commercial and more intuitive?

And is the only way to change the perceptions of HR to recruit more men and change its modus operandi?

Friday, 2 October 2009

Idiot questions and suitable punishments

I it just me or are we inundated in HR with idiot questions?

Sometimes it feel as if the whole of the organisation has some form of "business tourettes" brought on by being in the HR department.

"Can you tell me how much holiday I've taken?"

No, but I can tell you how much I've taken. Because I have a brain.

"I want to make a complaint against my manager, but I don't want them to know. Is that ok?"

Yeah.....I want to punch you but I don't want you to know. Close your eyes?

I'm thinking that we should have some sort of fining system going on. A 5% deduction in monthly earnings for every 5 minutes of my life that you waste. Or maybe bring back happy slapping or sumo wrestling?

Tell me I'm not alone....tell me this pain is shared?

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Where only the brave dare tread....

My name is the HRD. I am a white, middle class male (I’m not middle aged, but fast approaching). I therefore am part of one of the most discriminated against groups in western society.


No really.

It’s pretty simple. Consider this.

1) When it comes to health. Take two cancers. Both have about the same level of occurrence. Both have about the same mortality rate. The only difference? One occurs in women only. One in men. Surely it’s hard then to explain then why government investment in breast cancer far outstrips that of prostate cancer?

2) In affairs of the heart. My wife has an affair. She leaves me. Of course the weight of law is that she will gain custody of the children, the house and a large proportion of my salary for the forthcoming years. Is this because of my behaviour, because I am not as good a carer? Or because I am male.

3) In the workplace. I can’t be promoted or moved into positions of superiority because…well because I am a white middle class male. And that would be discriminatory to promote me. Lets find someone else, someone less…stereotypical.

4) At home, I need to be able to cook and clean, to raise the children, to express my emotions, to be in touch with myself. But come the moment when something really heavy needs lifting, when the electrics go kaput, when there is water coming through the ceiling. Who you gonna call?

My name is the HRD. I am a white middle class male.

Pity me?

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


Test, test, test. We don’t know what we’re doing so, I know, lets use some spurious test to give us some semblance of a measured process and then just come up with the conclusion we had in the first place.

I hate tests and I hate testing. Lets face it t he purveyors of these things are really the modern day Soothsayers. Selling predictions based on some old bunch of weed, the size of your arse and the direction of the prevailing wind.

And I know the challenge will come back, “when they are used properly they can be informative as an addition to other means of assessment” (God, did I really just write that?) but so can graphology. Not that I hear anyone chanting for that apart from the French and lets face it, they still have two hour lunch breaks, 6 months holiday and call everyone Mr and Mrs in the workplace.

I’m yet to be convinced there is any better means for recruitment or development than sitting down and having a conversation. Asking questions and listening. Talking, exploring and getting to know the person. Sure sometimes I will use a few scenario based questions to give the person something to discuss, but tests? Nope.

I have never taken MBTI, Belbin, FiroB etc.etc. Although I have worked in companies that used them regularly. Quite frankly I never understood the point. What was it going to tell me about myself that I didn’t know already? And if I didn’t know it, was I going to accept it because it was on a piece of paper?

I think not.

Friday, 25 September 2009

I am what I am

It's been brought to my attention that my last few posts may have sounded somewhat....well.....angry.

It has been suggested that people are starting to see me as behaving like Simon Cowell having been fisted by the winner of the "largest reindeer hoof in Alaska contest" and forced to chew the testicles of an alligator whilst humming the them tune to Star Wars.

Its been a tough time and things have been pressurized, but if you grant me a minute I'll try to redress the balance.

This takes me a little away from subject so my excuses in advance.

Things that make me happy:

1) The sunset when the sky turns red and the clouds look like froth on the fire of hades
2) The first sip of a glass of white wine after a hard days work, crackling on my tongue
3) The smell of damp leaves on an autumn day sinking deep into my consciousness
4) Holding hands and walking in the rain with not a worry in the world
5) The smell of a baby - like nothing on earth
6) Solving the Guardian crossword without assistance, remembering that I do have a brain
7) Laughing with friends that are dear to me, knowing that we are one
8) Seeing my kids succeed where they feared they would fail, learning that believing is strength
9) The British countryside, underrated, undersold, unique
10) Being me. I am what I am.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Fugly is NOT the new black

Last night was pleasant enough. I was at some HR do, for HR bods, doing HR things in their HR worlds. It was over a glass of passable white wine served in a somewhat chunky tumbler and some Mexican things (I’m never sure what they exactly are – just seems to be the same stuff folded in a variety of different ways) that the conversation took a turn.

I was bemoaning the fact that I was struggling to find a decent PA…..

“and they’re all crap and even the ones that aren’t that crap, well they’re…..kind of…..not so…….umm……well they’re ugly…….”

And in that moment, there it was……..my secret was out.

Yes it’s true. Given the choice between two equally skilled candidates, I will choose the one I find less ugly over the other one. I don’t choose JUST based on looks. I would never preclude someone just because of their looks.

Actually, I tell a lie. If you look like the gorilla that fell out of the ugly tree hitting every branch on the way down, you are either going to have to be married to the finest purveyor of cheese in the whole of France or have created a means of turning water into wine if you want darken my door.

I’m open and honest about this. I just want my office space to look tidy. And quite frankly ugly people….well they just clutter up the place and make it look a mess.

PLUS and this is a big plus……when you work in HR you need to be making an immediate impact. Our jobs are hard enough as it is influencing and cajoling people. If they can’t get beyond the size of your conk (that’s conk with an N), or see daylight because your ears are covering the windows….well they are hardly going to listen to your strategy for talent management.

It’s fair to say that I got taken to task on this. I am apparently a “contentious bastard” (I’m sure she loves me really!) and am “missing out on a whole host of talent”. Ugly talent I should add……

My view? I’m just honest about my prejudices. Everyone chooses people that they find attractive. That’s just the way we are.

And as far as I can see discriminating against the ugly is not yet illegal. So, if you are the bearded women, don’t come to me for a job. Move along dear, the Freak Show is just down the street.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The sound of steam being let off

I was writing something else to post, but then quite frankly something/one has got under my skin and I need to expunge this from my system through pushing it out into the blogosphere. What follows is not pretty and has been rated an 18 by the BBFC…..I apologise.

“You know what?

I don’t have the answers. Sometimes I don’t know. I am not the all seeing, all hearing fucking uber oracle that’s sat here waiting to provide you all with calm, peaceful resolutions to your otherwise unimportant and shitty little lives. Sometimes I just don’t know.

I have a brain and I have inner resources and both of these can become minimised, clogged up and filled with the pointless crap you wrongly feel is important. If it’s that important to you…….do it your fucking self……..

There are levels to which I can remain calm, focused, non-judgmental and rational in the face of all the irrationality, noise, and quite frankly total fucking madness that you people project.

I am just skin and bones. I am human.

So take your issues and your problems and your whines and your moans and shove them so far up your sphincter that when you look in the mirror you see Ja Ja Binks staring right back at you.

Shove it…….I’m off for a lie down”

Monday, 21 September 2009

The HRD is............

Isn’t it strange that in a world awash with communication tools, we’ve so successfully managed to right royally roger the art of communication? We have more opportunities than any other time in the history of humankind to communicate and yet time and time again we ask it to drop its pants and bend over.

My theory?

We are living in our own little worlds, our own little bubbles. We travel with headphones on, listening to our own music, watching a video. At work we fire off emails, we send texts, we chat via Messenger. At home, we blog, we tweet, we update our status, we record, we watch………

When do we talk? When do we listen? When do we truly interact?

Communication has become so easy that we don’t think about what we say, or how we say it. It’s just another thing. Something we do.

The Manager pinging out emails from the bunker of their office
The repeated use of text speak and avoidance of any sort of grammatical basis
The use of social networking to replace friendship

I’m not saying that these things are bad per se (I throw that in to show I’m an educated chap - don’t you know). Everything has its place but at the end of the day it’s hard to beat good old face to face communication. It has been going for thousands of years and looks pretty future proof to me…….

So I’m going to stop.

I’m going to change.

From this moment on I will not be participating in anythi

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Overleaping the mark

Yep, its a recession and I know that everyone is trying to find ways of making their next buck.

I'm a great believer in ingenuity, in entrepreneurial flair, in people going the extra mile.

But there is the extra mile and there is too far. Way too far.........

This little beauty came into my sweaty little hands from a friend who had received it at work.

The names have been removed to protect the innocent......

N.B. I should add that this was a genuine pitch by the individual involved

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


I took time out of my union activities yesterday to try and recruit myself a new PA. As previously noted, I hate recruitment. Having an attention span of somewhere south of 30 seconds and being remarkably judgmental means that normally before the person even sits down I have put them in the yes or no camp.

That said, yesterday I was recruiting with other members of my team and therefore felt I needed to be a little more professional than the norm....say, maybe waiting a minute before making a judgment. But hey, why bother when the pool of applicants is so ridiculously poor that like lemmings that do the honourable thing and commit career hari-kiri in front of your eyes.....

So in tribute to the little darlings, here are my top tips on things not likely to get you a job.

1) If the dates are wrong on your CV, then change them. Do NOT walk into the interview and when questioned say, "yeah that's wrong".
2) "I didn't realise the building was so close to the road" is not meaningful small talk. This is London. Show me a building that isn't close to the road not lived in by royalty.
3) If the role is for a PA, you kind of guess that spelling and grammar might be important. You did not use to order the "stationary"...trust me....you didn't.
4) You will be asked the question, "why do you want this job?" It's not a trick question. It's not there to catch you out. It's simple.....think it through beforehand. Lie. Do anything but sit there like Bambi in the crosshairs.
5) When completing an in tray exercise, try not to suggest prioritising the activity needing completion before midday, before the one needing completion before 9.30. If you do.....fess up. Don't try and justify it.....really.....don't......please.....

I could go on, but the depression is soaking through every pore in my body. Needless to say we didn't offer. Anyone want a job?

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Sell out?

This week I was accused, on another blog, of selling out. The premiss of the argument was that because my job entails certain activities that could be considered anti-union, therefore I could not be a socialist.

To be fair to the individual involved, they are not the first person (nor can I imagine will they be the last) to accuse me of either hypocrisy or selling out. And they are probably just trying to be sensationalist and inflammatory in order to serve their own ends.

But honestly? I find this ridiculously naive and idealistic.

I have a job, which I am paid to do. I am good at it.

I have my beliefs and my ideologies. These are what make me who I am.

Sometimes in my job I have to do certain things that clash with my beliefs.

So I have a choice, I can either walk away from the job or I can get on with it and know that regardless I am who I am. I'm me and I'm loved.

And at the end of the day I am putting food on the the table and in the mouths of my children. There is nothing I wouldn't do to ensure that they were ok. If I wasn't working and they needed food, then I would steal. I don't believe in breaking the law, but I would steal. Its these kinds of decisions that those of us in the real world come up against every day.

We all make compromises in order to make our way. That's just the way it is.

My experience of these social idealists is that they normally spend most of the time lurking in their bedrooms, pleasuring themselves over well worn sticky copies of the Little Red Book, whilst dreaming of having a girlfriend/boyfriend....I mean..... the glorious day. Not a million miles away from religious zealots, war gamers or the guys that get dressed up as Wizards and Warlocks for fun.

Me? I get on with it. I work, I make a living, I care and I provide. And in my spare time? Well that would be telling......but come the revolution, I'll be putting myself up against the wall.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Union like a hole in the head

Anyone who has read back through my posts will know that I am not anti-Union. I would recommend to anyone that I cared for (outside of my organisation) that they join a Union.

They can be good personally, but organisationally they can be a pain in the butt. This week has been Union week for me.

I have been shouted at, abused, and essentially told that I am one step away from being Pol Pot.


Because I suggested that an 11.8% pay deal was probably a little unrealistic given then current economic climate.

Because I refused to enshrine redundancy terms of four weeks pay per year of service into our terms and conditions.

Becuase I turned down, out of hand, a 33% increase to base pay.

And one lot has now indicated that because we are being so unreasonable they are going to ballot for industrial action.

Yeah...you know that "I support the ability of labour to organise" malarkey....its taken a knocking.....boy has it taken a knocking......

Next week "How to illegally prevent Unions from picketing parts 1 and 2"

Thursday, 10 September 2009

When I want your opinion

CEO: HRD….come in…..sit.
HRD: How are you?
CEO: Depressed. I’m depressed.
HRD: ……..ah…..um……….I could tell you a joke?
CEO: Ohh please!
HRD: What’s ET short for?
CEO: I meant “please!” as in…..not “please” as in……
HRD: …………….because hes got small legs…….
CEO: Good God…..please tell me that’s not your best……
HRD: Where do cows go on a Saturday night?
CEO: Look can we get to the point?
HRD: Sure…..the mooovies…..geddit?
HRD: Oops
CEO: So……ask?
HRD: Ask?
CEO: .....me. Ask me!
HRD: Why are you depressed?
CEO: That board meeting. They’re all….
HRD: Mad? Stupid?
CEO: …………….probably. I mean why the fuck won’t they say anything? I ask a question and……nothing! Nada! Rien!
HRD: ……………….
CEO: I mean for fucks sake its not as if I don’t tell them what I think enough. They should be able to tell me what I…um they….think. Shouldn’t they? Its not as if I don’t make it clear what the fucking answer is.
HRD: …..maybe……
CEO: ……yes?
HRD: ……is it just possible…….
CEO: …..what!
HRD: ….they don’t see the point?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Moan, moan, moan

Moaners (and I'm not talking in a good sense here) - Don't they just get your goat?

The HR profession is full of them.

1) "I want to be taking seriously" - then stop behaving like a paper pusher
2) "Nobody follows the guidelines" - that's because they're incomprehensible and impractical
3) "People don't involve me early enough" - see 1 and 2 above

At the same time, we are of course moan central for anyone who ever wants to complain about anything in the business that ever happened at any point to anyone from anywhere (did I cover it there?)

1) "It's too cold/hot/wet/dry in here" - put a scarf/bikini/wetsuit/damp cloth on
2) "I want a pay rise/new office/new boss/nose job" - jog on....just jog on....
3) "I'm unhappy with my career" - take a number and join the back of the queue

Everybody seems to want to moan about something.

Me? I just want to moan about moaners.

Friday, 4 September 2009

What if?

How many times do you say you can’t do something “because”?
That you would love to do something “but”
You were going to “however”

How often do we limit ourselves through the assumptions that we make. The limiting assumptions that shape our daily lives and make us go in a direction that may not be the one that we truly want to go. The one that we believe would truly make us happy.

“I’m no good at….”
“He wouldn’t like it if…..”
“It wouldn’t work because….”
“I’ve never been able to….”
“If it wasn’t for……”

What if none of these things were true?
What if actually we could decide completely our future?
What if we realised that we had total control and ownership over our own decisions?

What if anything was possible?

Maybe we’d make some mistakes, get mud on our face once or twice. Maybe some things wouldn’t work out as we’d hoped. Maybe we’d get hurt.

But at least we’d know.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Tip of the day

1) Do not send links to porn from your work computer
2) If you are going to send links to porn, don't accidently send to all users
3) If you are going to send links to porn to all users, don't work in the IT department responsible for internet usage

Follow these simple tips and you are unlikely to get into my bad books. Unlike some people.....

Thursday, 27 August 2009

The dreams of youth

This weekend is a holiday weekend in the UK and I’ll be returning home to the place where I grew up. It’s remiss of me that I haven’t been back to the fold for a year and it started me thinking about the hopes and dreams I had as a child

Kid: Mum, Dad. We’ve been talking at school about jobs and I made a choice
Mum: Ohh really son? What is it?
Kid: I know what I want to be when I’m a big boy!
Dad: Hey, good man. Come on little fella, tell me what it is? Spaceman? Racing Driver? Footballer?
Mum:…..Doctor, Lawyer?
Kid: smugly Nope. I want to be……………..an HR Director!
Fish (in tank on the side): ………………………………..
Mum: Ohh my God, what will the neighbours say………
Dad:………,.ok little man……its good you’re exploring options…..options are good, we all need to look and think and rule out the completely f***ing stupid, but I don’t think you need to rush into anything, make any decisions, you’ve got the whole life ahead of you…….let's not be rash………
Mum: What will the family say……..
Dad:….so tell me……..what….I mean how….I mean WHY?
Kid: Well I like dreaming up ideas and special worlds and places that only I can understand and everyone else says are just silly……..
Mum: What will the kids in the park say………
Dad: Will you shut up! Uhuh go on son…..
Kid: I like make believe, pretending I’m a big strong, important and powerful man who everyone likes and wants to be friends with….....
Dad: Yup
Kid: I like painting by numbers, colouring in and I always have the most-tidiest pencil case in all of the school………
Kid: And I’m rubbish at maths unless I use my fingers and toes…….
Mum: I’m leaving town……………
Kid: So the teacher said it was the absolute, most perfect job she could think of in the whole wide world for me…….
Dad: ….right…..umm….be there’s no rush, there are lots of good jobs out there, undertaker……taxidermist…….pest controller…….no need to jump right in and decide now
Mum: I’m feeling faint……
Kid: But Dad, I leave Uni in the summer, what am I going to do then?
Mum: ***thud***

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Pride comes before........

Its been 51 weeks this week since I started at the madhouse. 51 weeks.

I'm proud that during that time I can hand on heart say that I have changed the way in which HR is perceived. We're not perfect. Not perfect by any means, but people are starting to get what I am saying. They are starting to understand the value of a good, proactive, strategic HR function.

This morning was a high point.

For three hours I was with the Deputy CEO, the Comms Director and the Strategy Director. We were talking about how we drive the strategic agenda forward, how we focus the Board on thinking strategically and not tactically, we were debating the key issues that we saw for the business and our industry in the next five years. We were making a difference.

And this was a meeting that I engineered. It was never going to happen and I made it happen. We were placing HR at the centre of the business agenda and facilitating and driving change.

It was a high point. And I returned to the office on a high.


"HRD. Its FD. Just want to let you know that Facilities Director (little FD - fD) came to see me, now shes back from maternity leave, about the move from reporting to me to reporting to you. Not happy. Not happy at all. She says it will look like a backward step in the external market and she's worried that Facilities won't be taken as seriously anymore now its reporting into HR. Just wanted to let you know."


I'm not ashamed to tell you that the air went blue. But then, "hey" I thought. What the hell. When did I ever worry about what the FD thought! And certainly not the fD!!

Just goes to show, you. You are as other people see you.

There is work yet to be done...........

Friday, 21 August 2009

Vive la difference

I’m back from the deepest darkest recesses of our nearest neighbour where I have been sojourning for the last few weeks.

There are many reasons that I love France and love the French. Wine is not far from the top of the list and cheese definitely a contender…and after this summer the fact that the have a sun in the sky is a plus too. Sure they may struggle in the backbone department at times but given the weather, the wine and the countryside I too could easily jump into the “cheese eating surrender monkey” camp.

“You want my country? Sure! You mess with my cheese and wine, I kill you!”

But the real reason that I like the French is their complete inability to follow any rule of law….

If a swimming pool says that the slide is for over 11 year olds only, you’ll most likely see a portly hirsute French guy chomping on a piece of Brie whilst propelling his newly born down the slide head first on the remains of a rubber ring and imploring him to stop wailing and have some fun.

If you’re on a road limited to 110kph you’ll be overtaken by some guy in a 12 year old 2CV whilst shaving and brushing his teeth and listening to Johnny Halliday.

And of course if it says don’t smoke….well that’s just an invitation to unfurl a plume of smoke from brands of cigarettes that in other parts of the world has been designated as WMDs.

Its no surprise of course to find that this love of all things anti establishment also extends to the workplace where our French friends think nothing of walking out, blockading, burning down their place of work and even taking their bosses hostage. If you don’t believe me, do a quick search on Google for “protester comme une grenouille” (!)

So from today on I’m taking a leaf out of the tobacco pouch of my Gallic cousins and will deliberately flout a rule or law every day for a week………..Vive la Revolution!

Right after I’ve filled out these forms that are cloging up my in tray…….

Monday, 3 August 2009

The HRD is now leaving the building

In the morning I wake up. I shave, I shower. I put on a nice suit and a nice shirt made to my size. I wear cuff links that match and cologne that I'm given.

My hair is cropped, my skin soft.

I travel to work on the 6.52 train with my Blackberry and my iPod. I catch the tube.

I go to my corner office where I have a lovely view of London. An Assistant. Respect (most of the time). A good career. A great career.

I make decisions, I sit in meetings. I influence. I lead.

On Wednesday morning at 11.20 I am getting on a plane. A plane to Nimes.

For the following two weeks I will be running in the hills of the Ardeche. I will be hiking up the biggest, swimming down the rivers, kayaking the white water.

I will be wearing shorts and t-shirts, a rucksack with my gear. I won't have shaved, I will smell like a baboon's underpants. I'll be sun burnt and weathered. I'll be battered and bruised.

For two weeks, I will be me. The person that I really am.

I'll be back though. You can count on that.

The HRD is now leaving the building.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

No baby seals were hurt in the making of this post

***ring, ring, ring, ring***

HRD: Yo bitch!
CEO: I'm sorry?!?
HRD: (shit!).....ummmm.....witch.....NO!.....I meant, "Hi...How are you your holiness?"
CEO: Do you have a holiday booked HRD?
HRD:.......err yes.....next week
CEO: Thank God. You're sounding somewhat off centre. Anyway...
HRD: Off centre?
CEO: Shush. Just shush.......This flu thingy.
HRD: "Flu thingy"? Not sure what you're talking about...is there an issue....a problem?
CEO: HRD.....now, do we need to talk to Occupational Health?
HRD: About the flu?
CEO:........about YOU!
HRD: Ok, ok. Flu. Yes. What about it?
CEO: Has anyone got it?
HRD: Ummmm, yes. We have a few cases.
CEO: Who?
HRD: Why?
CEO: I just don't want them coming near.....I mean I don't want to touch....I mean OBVIOUSLY they need to be kept away...............from me
CEO: Well...you get the message? Comprende? Anyway what else do we have in place?
HRD: We are cleaning the meeting rooms on a more regular basis, we have signage and advice for all staff and we have alcohol hand gel in all toilet and kitchen areas.
CEO: Do we?
HRD: Yes
CEO: There is none in my bathroom
HRD.....oh dear.....
HRD: .............yes?


Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The one to make you feel all warm inside

Two posts today on two differing topics……

In the UK, it has rained throughout July, the Met Office have revised their forecast for August from “hot and sunny” to “variable”. Swine flu is on the increase, the recession is still biting hard, Whitney Houston has a new album coming out and the Government is hanging by a thread. But…..BUT there are reasons to be cheerful! Ohh yes there are.....

A copy of the book “You are really rich, you just don’t know it” fell into my sweaty palms this week. And my initial reaction was similar to being told that your best friend is actually a closet Celine Dion fan. But I had a train journey and I had managed to leave my iPod somewhere (please email if you find it, its recognisable by the blend of quality music from throughout the 90’s!).

The book is the result of research into a replacement to the traditional financial value system. In a nutshell they asked 1000 people to rate 50 life events and 5 items of monetary value on a happiness scale. They then did some mathematical jiggery pokery and came up with a cash value for the life events. And the results really cheered me up.

Topping the charts was “having good health” which is worth £180,589 closely followed by my favourite “being told ‘I love you’” which weighed in at £164,921. And of course laughing (£108,021) is worth more than sex (£105,210). But imagine if you could combine the two……

Take a look at www.reallyrichlist.com. Since reading it I have felt a warm glow….and no I haven’t spilt my coffee on my lap again…..

The one to make you angry

The second of two

This is a disgrace.

Today the Danish company Vestas is going to the courts to remove workers from its Isle of Wight factory who have occupied it in protest at the decision to close the factory.

The company make wind turbines. Yes wind turbines, the things that are supposed to help us prevent the earth from heating up to the point that we will all need to grow fins and gills. It is the only factory in the UK that makes wind turbines. We will then be importing from abroad……again.

The Isle of Wight is a small community. It doesn’t have a huge amount of employment that is not seasonal. Unemployment is above the national average and there are around 60 jobseekers for each job centre vacancy.

Plus if renewable energy is the future then what the hell are we doing reducing the capacity to produce turbines in the UK? Its madness, pure madness.

Congratulations to the protestors their friends, families and supporters.

Contempt to the managers who delivered notices of dismissal along with pizza.

But still the warm glow remains.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Entitlement culture

You are entitled to,

1) An hourly rate of £5.73 (for +22 year olds) or £4.77 (for 18 to 21 year olds)
2) 28 days holiday inclusive of public holidays
3) A years worth of maternity leave 39 weeks of it paid at £123.06 per week
4) Two weeks worth of paternity leave paid at £123.06 per week
5) Be a member of a Trade Union
6) Statutory redundancy pay of up to £350 per week
7) A safe working environment

You are not entitled to,

1) A subsidised canteen and restaurant
2) Choose you’re the hours and days that you attend work
3) A Christmas party
4) Healthcare
5) A car
6) Choose your manager or your colleagues
7) A say in everything that might ever impact you in anyway whatsoever

You are certainly not entitled to,

1) My understanding
2) My being nice to you
3) My time patience and consideration
4) The shirt off my back
5) Touch any part of my body unless proffered
6) My weekends
7) My freedom

Friday, 24 July 2009

A weighty issue

Having posted a bit of a diatribe (make that two diatribes – is that a gaggle?) at http://www.punkrockhr.com/ about obesity, I checked with my conscience.

She told me I didn’t understand all the issues. So I tried to explain.

She told me to blog about it. And as I always listen to my conscience………

My beef is this: obesity is a societal issue.

The way we structure and organise our society has led to the issues with increasing obesity. The way that people explain this away is dangerous. Sure it might make you feel better as an individual to say that you have a “genetic predisposition”. But the statistical probability of that is slim (no pun intended).

The chances are that it is a lifestyle problem. Most obesity is caused by taking more in than you expend. That is the long hard truth of the matter.

And worse. By taking the “genetic predisposition” line we also risk giving the green light to children that there is an answer and that it’s ok to be overweight. We are not focussing on the real problems, the real issues.

Fast and unhealthy food is too cheap.
We have lost our cooking skills and the ability to make nutritious affordable meals.
Organised exercise is inaccessible or prohibitively expensive.
Nutritional information is poor and inconsistent.

These are societal issues. And this is where I come in as an HR professional. My organisation is part of society. We are a living and working organism. And we have employees. People who come to work every day for us. People who make us who we are. People who we care about.

I believe we have a role in providing information and opportunities for our people. We provide free healthcare for all. Information on and ways in which people can assess their health and wellbeing confidentially. Biannual confidential medicals. Subsidised Gym membership. Plus a canteen that provides subsidised nutritious and balanced meals.

None of these are forced on people. We don’t make people stay and eat - they can go across the road and buy what the hell they want. We don’t make them join the gym or go to the Doctors. We create an environment which is conducive to healthy living and where it is ok to tackle issues of wellbeing.

Being obese has long term health complications. Sure you may argue that an obese person is as “healthy” as a slim person. But then there are examples of professional sportspeople who smoke. But we wouldn’t argue that a smoker was “healthy”?

These long term health issues will result in medical and societal problems in time and in turn, unless we act, these will impact on my organisation.

This is not Big Brother. This is a ticking time bomb.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


This morning I stopped to get a bottle of Lucozade at the shop next to the office (think Gatorade for Brits). Coffee wasn't going to do it on its own today. Cofffee was out of its league.

It was 7.30am.

The guy behind me was buying a can of Guinness.

For a moment, I thought maybe he had it right and I had it wrong.

Just for a moment.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

A class act

We have a class issue here in the UK.

We have serious issues with class and with movement. People will tell me that it doesn’t matter what family you were born into, that you can progress and change.

That is just not true.

I’ll repeat it for the hard of reading. We have a class issue.

Let me put it another way,

75% of Judges have been privately educated
70% of Barristers have been privately educated
70% of Finance Directors of major companies have been privately educated

That’s against a UK average of less than 10%

We have a class issue.

People will point at the odd one who made it (Richard Branson is normally the quoted example or Sir Alan Sugar….Baron Sugar?).

One swallow does not make a summer.

This is not about the rich versus the poor, or the “haves” versus the “have nots”. This is about the ruling elite, a clique, an exclusive club, versus the rest of us.

This is about recruiting and promoting people who are like you and only people who are like you. Sometimes its out of ignorance, sometimes its out of fear of difference, often it’s out of a sense of duty to friends and family. Trust me, I see it every day.

There is a glimmer of hope. Alan Milburn has today published his report on “Fair Access to the Professions”. I’ve read it (oh yes I have) and it makes a world of sense.

Its not law, it’s just a report. But the more of us who jump up and down, who make a noise about this. The more of us who tackle this issue head on in our own places of work. The more there is a likelihood that something is going to change.

We have a class issue in the UK. There I said it. And the sky didn’t fall in.

I just hope I don’t get a speeding ticket, because the chances of getting off now are slim……….

Monday, 20 July 2009

Litigation, litigation, litigation

Last week was “one of those weeks”. In fact its feeling like it has been “one of those years”. In the words of Lizzie, its shaping up to have been my “annus horribilis” in many ways.

My organisation has always had somewhat of a soft underbelly when it comes to claims relating from employment. Actually that’s wrong. Soft underbelly suggests some sort of resistance. We’re talking pushing on a non-existing door in a blank cheque kind of a way.

A collective “make it go away” mentality.

I do not share this view.

In any shape or form or substance.

I believe that legislation is there to protect people. Not for the use of lawyers to try and make a buck or two through launching nebulous claims that they know a company will look at and think “stuff it, its going to cost us xxxx to defend, let’s just give it to them and make it go away”.

If I have done wrong, if we have done wrong…then we should hold our hands up and admit it, be adult, compensate and learn. That’s how adults behave.

But if we haven’t done wrong? If we have behaved with the best interests of our customers our colleagues and our community at heart? Why should we compensate?

The problem is that behaviour breeds behaviour. And because we have always gone down the road of least resistance, the folklore says “make a claim and the company giveth away”.

So I have piles of litigation mounting up. Including a Sexual Discrimination claim made against your truly.

But my shoulders are broad and we won’t be easy pickings. Not on my watch.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Its the delivery stupid......

How often is poor communication the cause for confusion, anger, upset?

How often do we send a text message, speak on the phone, type an email (or all three for the superbly talented) whilst we are doing something else?

How much importance do we really place on ensuring we are communicating effectively?

These are the questions I’m mulling over having miscommunicated badly. Really badly.

As in nearly end of the world, meteor storm showering the earth badly.

As in poke every square inch of my body with a red hot needle badly.

As in…..well you get the picture….

I knew the message I wanted to communicate, I knew the message I wanted to get across. But I was really busy and I got it wrong.

Under challenge I was defensive. I mean if you look at the words that were communicated then sure they could have been taken the wrong way. But that wasn’t my sentiment that wasn’t what I was trying to get across. That wasn’t the message I wanted to convey, I mean can’t they understand that?

The cold light of day shows me that it was my error. It didn’t matter that I was busy. It didn’t matter that I had a million other things vying for my attention. I was more concerned with task than with the message.

How many times does that happen each day?

4/10 HRD. Must try harder.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Teachers and learnings

The UK media is awash with this news story.

Interestingly, normally a case of an adult assaulting a minor would result in headlines about demonic behaviour and much hand wringing. Not so on this occasion, there seems to be a degree of sympathy and understanding.

Now I’m not normally in favour of teachers hitting kids (if indeed that is what happened) BUT this highlights a number of areas that really need to be addressed.

- Teachers no longer have the power to deal with unruly pupils. This is to the detriment of the education system as a whole. In each class there will be kids that want to learn. I’m not talking about the bright ones, they will succeed anyway. I’m talking about the middle tiers, the ones that might make it or might not the ones that could be making a really productive contribution to society in years to come.

- The behaviour of some children is becoming beyond a joke. When a child thinks they can stand up in a classroom and swear at a teacher, or swear at an adult in the street, things have gone too far. This is unacceptable behaviour. Where are the repercussions, where are the punishments, where are the rules?

- Where are the parents in this? It used to be that adults believed other adults over the children. If a teacher said that little Joey had been badly behaved at school, little Joey was in deep doggy doo-doo with the parents. These days, too often the response is, “Not my little Joey, he’s not a naughty boy. He’s just lively”

- The pressure on teachers dealing with these sorts of situations day in and day out is incredibly stressful. Think about being abused, insulted, disobeyed, and contradicted and in some cases physically threatened day in and day out. The end of term is 6 school days away and it seems for this chap it became too much.

Our economies, our prosperity, our futures are being determined here. This is the generation that will be running the world when we are in our twilight years. And I tell you what, I for one am terrified by that thought.

So beating up a pupil can never be right, but if it makes a few kids think, a few parents consider and brings this subject into mainstream debate, then there is something to positive to come out of this sad, sad affair.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The urn, the pig and the predictions

Forget Michael Jackson, that was yesterday’s news (or in fact ceased to be newsworthy post 1979 and Off the Wall).

Today sees the start of the Ashes….now that’s a real event.

Yep we’re talking cricket. For those of you from less cultured countries, this is a game played over 5 days involving 11 people on each team, throwing and hitting a ball, whilst dressed in white. Sure it’s a little unusual, but it is also the greatest sport on earth.

I’m not going to try and explain the lure of cricket, you’re either born with it or you’re not (although think “5 days sitting in the sun with friends drinking” and you get somewhere close).

But the Ashes, well that’s extra special because it’s against the Aussies. And we know that the non-indigenous Australians are descendents of ex-criminals transported there by the English. And that makes it extra spicy. They don’t like us, we don’t like them.

Don’t believe me? Imagine a solid wooden ball covered in leather coming at chest height at around 150kph…duck? hit? ambulance?

But why all this talk of cricket? What on earth does that have to do with the world of HR…..?

Because I have two predictions.

Anyone that tried to access the BBC website last Friday afternoon whilst Andy Murray was playing will have experienced significant difficulties. Everyone was sat at work watching the furry little Scotsman on his inevitable charge towards second class sporting prowess. Sky Sports will be streaming the five five-day tests live. Expect IT systems in businesses around the UK to crash and burn on those days and productivity to fall.

We also have a creeping increase in the cases of Swine Flu going on here too. Advice is that if you are experiencing flu like symptoms to stay at home until you feel better. Reported cases peaked over the last few weeks (the hottest of the year….coincidence or not?) If the Ashes series is tight and goes into a clinching test don’t be surprised if it coincides with a new high in the number of reported cases of swine flu.

You have been warned....

Monday, 6 July 2009

R U 4 Real?

Now I've heard everything.

160 characters to apply for a job by text....for guess what? A marketing role. (I refer you to my previous comments.....)

But in the sake of experimentation and participation I proffer the following,

"Grumpy HRD. House trained. Fully flexible. Neither long in the tooth nor green. Laughs in the face of misfortune. Comes with own teeth and hair. Discount on bulk orders"

And did UC there was no text speak involved? Although I can't help feeling it sounds more like a dodgy lonely hearts entry.....

Do I get the gig? Can you better it?

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Welcome to the asylum

Today I’m striking out. I’m fed up. I’m fed up hearing how pathetic and pointless HR is.

Sure there are a lot of crap people in the profession. There are a lot of weak pointless individuals who are in HR because they “like people”. Really? Well go audition for Miss. World then and you can travel the world and meet lots of people….and if you are really good you might get to help the children too.

What’s that? You can’t? I forgot…..too ugly. Ugly, stupid and ineffective. That sums up about 90% of the profession.

But let’s be honest, look around you, the rest of them ain’t that good either…..

Finance – You count. That’s what you do. You count. It’s taught in school. My children can do it. Its not that fucking impressive is it? And particularly as you have computers the size of Peru to help you do it these days. You are as strategic as a lump of four week old cheddar found down the back of the fridge. And you count. Congratulations.

Marketing – Yep you know these guys. They were the ones at University always off their tits on something. Why do so many students want to work in Marketing? Because it’s easy. And because it’s about pretty pictures. Deep down you all want to be the writer or creator of the next big thing don’t you? But you’re not…..because you didn’t make it. You are as creative as a door knob. So go market. Promote stuff you didn’t make to people you don’t know. Sounds enriching.

Sales – Where to start, where to start…... Imagine a litter of Labrador puppies on amphetamines. Excitable, directionless, cute but ultimately ineffective. 99% of the time the person has already made a decision whether to buy or not. That makes about three days a year in which you actually achieve something. The rest of the time? You are as beneficial as fluff in the wind. Do you want a doggie treat?

Just a personal opinion, I mean….don’t take it seriously…..I’m only HR.

Monday, 29 June 2009

The moment when self worth explodes

I was jumped on when least prepared and at my most vulnerable.

”What do you do in HR?” she asked.

I readied my defences against the, “provide tissues, bake cakes and go home early” attack (the last bit being of course true, but then who’s going to discipline me?)

But there was unnerving sincerity. “I mean I know you guys are scary” she said, “but what do you do?”

Now I’m not scary, nor am I evil. In fact I’m the sort of guy you could take home to meet your mum and I wouldn’t kick the dog, worry the cat or pull the heads off your baby sister’s dolls. Indeed I am perfectly housetrained and an all round good chap….honest…..I’ve even been told I can be charming with a good following wind and a running start.

But what do I do………………………….?

Frantically, I reached for the Blueberry, scrolling through the week’s events, emails and meetings.

“You see I………I do…..things like……things like….well there’s some stuff here that I did…..and some stuff I’m going to do. Then there are the other things……..things that need doing ………when I’ve worked out how I’m going to do them……….for when the other stuff is done......simple........really”

Crap….what do I do?

And double crap.......how come it takes up so much time and energy?

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Wishing the days away

Every day I commute to work. It’s a relatively long commute. I leave home at 6.25am and if I am lucky I get into work at 7.45am. In the evening if I leave at 5.15pm I can be home at 7.00pm.


3 hours and 5 minutes a day.
15 hours and 25 minutes a week
801 hours a year or 33 days


over a month each year just trying to get to and from my place of work.

And sure there are some upsides. I get to listen to music, read a book, think about my life, the universe and everything.
But there are also the downsides. Big steaming piles of downside.

1) Super sized people – if you can’t fit on one seat of the train and therefore take half of mine, pay for two. If not, squeeze yourself. This is your problem and not mine. Sorry, if its harsh, but its true.

2) Man trolleys - You know those bags on a stick that you drag behind you? They are wrong in so many ways. You are a human caravan. You are not allowed to overtake. Put yourself in the slow lane and get the fuck out of my way.

3) Backpacks - When you have one of these on, you take up more space…just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t pressed into my face. Think of yourself like Quasimodo…..get the picture?

4) Stupid ring tones - You are the only person in the world who would have “Pinball Wizard” as your ring tone, so why the hell have you not realised that and answered your phone. Are you really thinking “oh someone with the same taste as me?” Because there is no-one.

5) Smelly food – Wrong, wrong, wrong for so many reasons. You eat at a table. You wouldn’t do this in the theatre. You wouldn’t do this in the Doctor’s surgery. Don’t do this in a confined tubular human carrier.

6) Super sized headphones - It’s not cool, it’s stupid. These are portable devices. The clue is in the name. You need a separate man trolley for your headphones....that makes you an idiot on two counts.

I could go on, but I fear that I may alienate the remaining two non-American readers who survived the previous humour reference.

Maybe I need a holiday.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

It's the smallest things......

As I have grown older (and hopefully wiser), I have become more attuned to the impact that the small things have on morale and motivation. No longer do I knee jerk to the “HR has to be commercial, lets slash and burn the fuck out of the organisation” mantra. Instead I try to understand what is important to others as well as myself.

This is never more in focus than in recessionary times when the pressure is on to target these marginal elements for cost saving, to see them as “low hanging fruit” (pause to vomit).

Reducing the quality of the coffee
Removing the subsidised canteen
Cancelling the Christmas party
Changing the expenses policy

In one organisation I worked in they altered the frequency that the bins were emptied. Instead of the bins being emptied everyday they emptied them every other day. Most colleagues ate at their desks whilst working and not taking a proper lunch break. Their commitment was rewarded by stinking bins. Their response? To ban employees from eating at their desks. Go figure….

And this highlights the second issue. In my experience, there exists a colossal reality gap between the decision makers and the people that are impacted by their decisions. I give you two scenarios from a recent “recession planning” board session,

The Sales Director proposing the removal of the canteen subsidy saying, “No-one will notice the extra couple of quid on a sandwich”. Not when you are earning a good six figure salary no. But then.....most people aren't.

The IT Director that proposed making savings “by restricting access to social networking sites”. And totally pissing off a large proportion of the workforce who is under 35, work excessively long hours and like to check into Facebook during the working day.

These are the sorts of decisions and conversations that are going on all over the corporate world. I believe it is incumbent on any decent HR professional to stop and challenge and make sure that we realise the extent of the decisions we are making and are not jumping head first into short-termism that ultimately rips the heart and soul from our organisation. To stand up for the people who maybe don’t have a voice at the big table and to represent a fair and balanced view of what is important to employees.

Because, like it or not, if we don’t do it, it’s unlikely that anybody else will and ultimately our organisations will suffer….as will our people.

And for the record,

We still heavily subsidise the canteen
We have open access to social networking sites
We didn’t pay any exec bonuses

Now that’s what I call real savings……….

Friday, 19 June 2009

Total applause

I provide work, you provide pay. That’s the basis of the contract of employment.

I stop working, you don’t have to pay.

You stop paying, I don’t have to work.

Simple really….no?

Then consider this story.

As I repeatedly say, I am not a union basher (and in this case it looks like the unions are keeping this at arms length!), but I applaud Total and Jacobs.

My reasons for this are,

1) 51 jobs were lost. That requires statutory consultation. THAT is where you make your points as a collective workforce. If consultation wasn’t properly carried out you get an injunction and make them start again.

2) Wildcat strikes are illegal. You may agree with this, you may not. But that is the law. The workers here have a history of doing this. It is simply unacceptable.

3) Having illegally withdrawn labour the strikers are in breach of their contracts. There are legal and legitimate ways to organise industrial action. This is not one of them.

I’m sorry, but I have no sympathy for the workers, although I do for their families who will suffer as a result of this stupid macho dick-swinging behaviour (you can guarantee the vast majority will be blokes).

These workers have tried to run the business through mob rule. They threw their toys out of the pram, and guess what, no-one wanted to give them, them back…….

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Le cochon qui vole........

** ring, ring**
HRD: Your dameliness……..
CEO: I’m just catching up on these email things…..
HRD: Mmhmm….
CEO: This one on the Union people. Talk.
HRD: Umm. So as I said. We negotiated, we failed to agree. Bit of an impasse. Not entirely sure I see a way through. They are adamant they are not shifting, I have nothing to offer them. So kind of stuck. I think we keep our heads down and hold tight.
CEO: Interesting……
HRD: So I thought I better let you know…..in case
CEO: HRD? I was thinking…..
HRD: Ohhh (falls head first into the pit of doom)
CEO: Have you considered….whisper whisper whisper
HRD: ……………………………………………………..
CEO: Hello? Are you there?
HRD: ……………………………………………………..
CEO: HRD????
HRD: …..yes…..CEO?
CEO: Yes?
HRD: That’s……that’s……a REALLY good idea…….
CEO: It is? Really? Oh! Right!...........So…anything else you need any help with?

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Keep Calm and Carry on

Its time to add some humour to the situation.  

Americans...humour has a U because guess what?  We all laugh at U!  Geddit?

(watches as both of his regular readers leave).......

Ok, I'm not going to get into cultural debates on spelling that would be wrong.  It would be wrong because.......well lets just say what is the name of the language? English?  There you go.  Debate over.

Shit, that wasn't the point of this entry.  I am not anti American in anyway.  In the slightest.  I'm going to stop digging now.

I am dealing with a sexual harassment case.  Its bad.....its really bad.  In fact its criminal.  The Police are coming tomorrow.  It involves written correspondence which I have been reviewing this evening with a glass of wine.  Thats not being flippant, its necessary to get through it.

I've dealt with a lot of shit in this arena over the years.  More than anyone should have to.

I have been through three cases of alleged paedophelia.
I have dealt with four alleged rapes
I have dealt with numerous internet porn issues (including the first dismissal in the UK...I believe) and violent porn images
I can't count the number of sexual harassment cases I have dealt with.  From innuendo to physical intimidation

And laughter is the coping strategy for dealing with this.  Its not a funny subject don't get me wrong.  I am not taking any of this lightly or suggesting that it is humourous in any shape or form.

But tonight I am going to laugh and make merry......tomorrow I'll deal with other people's nasty reality and I won't let it touch my beautiful dream.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Know this

There are times in your career when you are on the crest of a wave.  When everything that you do is easy and lucid and structured.

There are other times when the reverse Midas touch prevails and everything you touch turns to s**t, crumples in your hand and the pieces blow into the wind.

There are times when your life is full of NNS. 

Its what we do, its what we signed up for. No?

Every conversation this week has been tough.  Every decision has been difficult.  We are in the attritional hard yards.

The trick is chin up, focus on the horizon.  Know that every inch you gain today is taking you closer to your goal.

Know that no-one is going to say thank you, but everyone will be grateful.  

Know that you are right and the steps you are taking are solid and assured.

Know that there will be an end.............

Friday, 12 June 2009

It's over......

I'm sorry to break it to you, but unfortunately I have been having some relationship issues.

It all came to a head yesterday in a pretty difficult conversation. And, I guess it turns out that maybe we are just incompatible after all.

Over time we’ve tried, we really have. Well, I’ve tried - I’m not being bitter it’s the truth!

But there are too many things that get in the way:

I believe in support and doing the right thing. She just niggles at the detail and picks at inaccuracies.

I believe rules are there to be broken. She thinks I am wayward and uncontrollable.

I make decisions and act on them. She thinks she should be consulted on everything.

I want to plan for the future. She just takes a day at a time.

So yesterday we sat down and poured out our hearts. She told me how she felt I told her how I felt. It was emotional but I think it’s for the best. I think we will still stay in touch, but friends? That’s a step too far.

Payroll and I? We were never going to make it.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

It's naughty time....

The naughty boy is back, oh yes he is.

You may remember that we had a naughty situation that I wrote about before, which led to disciplinary action after a long and tortuous conversation with the CEO. Last week it was roosting time at the turkey ranch.

I get a call from the naughty boy he wants to see me “off the record”. Now one - my door is always open, but two - there is no such thing as off the record. Not with naughty boys.

He comes and sits and tells me that his position has become untenable, that he can’t see anyway back and…..that he wants to come to an amicable arrangement. He continues to make his case. At the end I ask him, “are you saying that you are going to resign and claim constructive dismissal?” he answers that he wants to part amicably.

Now the issue here is that we don’t really want the old duffer to go. He has value, he has a contribution to make. He has just been a very naughty boy. And we certainly don’t want to pay him to go….that’s just counter intuitive.

I go back and tell him we want to work with him to rectify his behaviours, to facilitate a good working relationship.

The email I receive over the weekend is something to behold. The demand is we agree to …..remove the warning and pay him £100k to leave, by midday……OR……he is going to make a few calls and look for a new job.

Pause. Read that again. Look for the flaw in the negotiation strategy……Find it?

Oh Buddha……..he copied in CEO…….

Thursday, 4 June 2009

URGENT Recruitment breakthrough!

There have been a number of posts on HR blogs recently about recruitment techniques, recruitment technology and poor quality CVs.

Then I read this.

It appears we are all being duped and have no successful way of attracting, measuring or selecting.

So I am calling on all my fellow HR and business colleagues to stop what you are doing today and introduce sumo suit wrestling as the only reliable and flawless way of selecting….winner stays on!


Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Wading through treacle

Let me be clear upfront. I hate recruitment. I hate people. Therefore I hate recruiting people. Actually that’s not entirely true, I love interviewing great people and bouncing around ideas when there is a spark, intelligence and a passion. I hate the crap that you have to go through to get there in the first place.

At the moment we are recruiting for my team. We have a mid-range HR Manager role, managing a small team and paying £50k (c.$83k) it’s a good company with good benefits, healthcare, pension, discounts, 25 days holiday, profit share. We should be recruiting good people. We put this on a well known HR recruitment website.

Foolishly I asked my PA to print me the CVs so that I can “test the calibre and see who’s out there”. My team have just come to check that I am ok as the laughter has been spilling out of my office. There are a number of observations to be made,

1) HR people are no better at CVs than the rest of the world, in fact they’re worse
2) There’s a lot of dross out there desperately trying to get a job
3) There’s a lot of financial services people out there desperately trying to get a job

Now on this last point, we are not an FS company, we are totally different. But ranting about your successes in HR at Lehman Bros that made a commercial difference……..You are the Weakest Link….Goodbye!

So despite the complete lack of professionalism, here are some of my favourites.

“With a strong track record of leveraging people and the organisation through making use of such tools as lean thinking/six sigma, change management, project management and building and maintaining relationships.” – And the ability to speak without breathing by the sounds of it

“A HR professional with a record of bringing a strong business focus and analytical thinking style to conceptualise and lead business-linked HR initiatives” – I was with you for the first half and then……

And then listed under key skills,

Typing speed 45wpm. Microsoft Office skills – This is an HR Manager role ffs
First HR nominee to receive 2 nominations for a staff star award – But did you get a Blue Peter badge?
Ability to work as part of an interview panel – Uhhhhhhhh yeah……

And finally my favourite,

“I play drums and sing backing vocals on a regular basis with a covers band – weddings, PTA parties and charity fund raising events” Words fail me…..

So does anyone out there need a job?