Monday, 14 October 2019

The Nuanced Role of the HR Business Partner

You nailed the bastard

Thinking (as opposed to just doing) is a major component of being a C level  HR lady, believe you me. I did not reach the top of the corporate ladder just because of my sycophancy and attractive stems, as it were.

I estimate that I think about an hour a day, but not all at once. I break up my thinking into smaller parts, to ensure that I appear to be constantly  pondering the quintessential essence of my role. 

This thinking pays off. On Friday morning, I gave a key note session at an annual HR conference in NYC. In the Q&A session, a sleazy, manipulative but impressive CEO asked me, "Professor Ramsbottom, don't you see the role of HR business partner as overly nuanced?"

My Dad used to say that some of his bosses "need their fucking head examined", but I would never talk like this.

Instead, I asked the aforementioned CEO to ponder three situations.
1) Getting nerds to travel to 3rd world shit holes, whilst cutting travel expenses by travelling on Ryan-air, American Eagle, Alitalia or El Al, nevertheless allowing the CEO to travel first class on Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific.
2) Maintaining cost effective nerds from developing countries after they get their green card, who are willing to invest discretionary effort because they are "proud" of our non functioning product.
3) Work people to the bone, day in and day out, relinquishing weekends, sleep and sexual activity, whilst winning a prize from a leading trade journal as the wellness capital of the industry.

Inviting the CEO to stand up, I asked him "on which part of the nuance do you wish to forego, for heaven sake?" The CEO, who was not white or even American, nevertheless blushed and sat down.

To my surprise, Comrade Carl Marks, our chief nerd and one of my major internal clients, rose to his feet with a joint between his fingers and yelled, "Kibinimat, you nailed the bastard Gloria. What a thoughtful lady you are!"


Friday, 13 September 2019

The importance of cultural training for dealing with the Swiss and Italians

Constructive feedback

Comrade Carl Marks, our chief nerd and self appointed product-ambassador-at-large for embryonic blockchain-based  products, just returned from a trip to potential clients in Italy and Switzerland, which is a neutral country, much like Sweden.

Comrade Carl had planned the trip for  6 months, claiming that Italy-based customers are important because when they buy equipment they don't necessarily expect it to work, as opposed to the Swiss, who will not buy anything unless is it is fully functional, except in certain areas of Switzerland where German is not spoken.

When Comrade Carl landed in Milan, the car rental agency would not rent him a car, because he had brought with him only his international drivers' license, forgetting  his US licence at home. Carl texted me and told me that "HR should be halved and quartered for not taking care of administrative issues. Gloria, you waste all your time in your data mine, and we the simple folk, get fucked. Brexit now. To hell with HR. Love, Carl."

Two hours later, I received a Whatsapp message that Comrade Carl had nonetheless rented a car! I texted back, asking the ever-so-innovative Comrade Carl how he had "pulled this off". 

Before I continue this lovely yarn, I want to inform my somewhat unworldly readers in the USA and parts of Canada that "CPSU" stands for the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

So, to continue...Comrade Carl told me that since he still carries his CPSU membership card, he told the Italian rental car service agent that  the card is in fact his drivers licence, and he pointed to his date of birth as the license number, duping the Italian rental agent.

I wandered into our R&D department and told the story to 2 Italian nerds in our Blockchain team who, unfortunately, do not speak English, but rather speak English in Italian. They told me that Comrade Carl is very wise; Italy can be very broken, from an HR perspective. ``But if Comrade Carl gets (ah) caught in (ah) Switzerland, his goose (ah) is cooked (ah)`.

I texted Comrade Carl and suggested that he drive to Lucarno, Switzerland  for the weekend. "Comrade Carl, I suggest you have a few drinks before you drive back to Italy. Parking on the sidewalk is ok, because the Swiss have loosened up; the Swiss police want all tourists to have a wow user experience.  Love Gloria."

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Letters from my in-basket

In line with my core value of transparency

Dear Gloria,
Do you have any scientific proof that nerds who are severed at the age of 40 have an improved work life balance?
All the ladies in our HR department reads your every post and worship the ground you walk on, and we would appreciate an answer asap. Btw, there are no men in our department.

Dear Gloria,
Thank you for recommending travel by Greyhound. Our travel expenses have dipped since we implemented this change. True, the amount of travel has dipped even more, but we have a set of graphs that can prove almost anything.

Dear Gloria,
Our HR department reads your blog and you serve as a beacon, especially in the area of well-being, evidence-based HR, Spinoza, engagement and backstabbing. Do you have any ideas how to augment respect to HR during a reduction in force?

Dear Gloria,
Pleze dont be zo hardt on your CFO Mister Herr Krebbs. He is just doing his Jop.

Dear Gloria,
Do you ever visit Russia? If so, keep your eyes open. I'll find you.
Tak and spasiba

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Setting priorities on the fly

Our chief nerd and system architect, Comrade Carl Marks, was sitting in his office with his bare feet on the desk reading a newspaper called Mundo Obrero. I asked the Comrade about the origin of the newspaper and Carl told me. "Gloria, you are a running dog of imperialism but I love you! How can I make your day more pleasant?"

I told the unstable, restless Comrade that as per a survey that HR/Data ran last Friday, "priorities are confusing and this impedes my focus" received 100% "totally agree" ranking. I told Carl, nicely, that he need to "clear up his act".

The Comrade offered me a Cinzano, which I turned down in line with my core value of sobriety. Carl offered me a joint, but I told him that I would prefer a Zero or Pepsi Max. Carl told me I was a "laflaf". I googled the term but did not find it.

The Comrade went to a cabinet, opened a drawer, and took our a megaphone. Carl apparently thought that I am hard of hearing or sorda. 

The Comrade then bellowed at me for 5 minutes. Here are a few choice quotes- "Priorities are a thing of the past, like liberalism  and solidarity. Everything is important and nothing is important; this polarity needs to be managed. Clients don't know their ass from their elbow (even if they have a German or Swiss blockchain), yet they pay the bills. This is intolerable, and a derivative of crony capitalism. Gloria, tell the forces that be to shove that survey, and I will not elaborate".

I know what Comrade Carl meant. No, I do not read Marcuse at breakfast, but I am not stupid.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Whipping up support for managements' action using Data and Evidence and Leverage

A priori or ex post facto (Latin) 

Wifey, our CEO's brainy better half, read an article  about data and evidence from a prominent British scholar. 
The article elaborated on the use of data to whip up support for management actions, especially if the data can be twisted to provide evidence that managements' intelligence/action plans are unmatched, be it apriori or ex post facto, or both! (My Latin is quite functional).

Nothing is more prominent that reading an article penned by a Brit, if you ask me. Even if no one uses a pen anymore.

Stan our CEO sent me a Whatsapp at 3 AM, having been hen pecked by Wifey since midnight to "take immediate action on the data issue". The message from Stan was clear-"hire a cost effective data "slash" evidence intern to provide answers for 5 questions. See email from Wifey. Stan".

I ran like a bat out of hell to my new PC and lo and behold was an email from dear Wifey.

Dear Gloria
We both know that Stan's days may be numbered. His blood pressure is high and YTD revenue is low. However, if you hire an intern to generate some data, I think we can save my husbands' ass, if I can be so crude.
Here are five questions that need an answer, within a week.
1-Who is not fully aligned with discretionary effort, and when does their visa expire?
2-What are the leverage points we have on nerds who want to put the life back into work life balance? When does the next flight leave to their native homelands?
3-What are the sexual fantasies of nerds who dare to leave the office before 11 PM? What are they up to, if you get my drift?
4-What is the best bang-for-the-buck perk for nerds who have an American passport?
5-Is there a long German word to describe all this?

One more point Gloria. My sister's grand-daughter Daphne is perfectly suited to be your Data Dame. One day, she could even replace you as HR manager! How wonderful that would be. Please bring Daphne on board on Monday morning. Thank you my darling Canadian girl.

Love, Wifey

Friday, 3 May 2019

Loyal Opposition in Organizations

I got stuck with the lunch tab

Comrade Carl invited me to the Plan of Records Committee Meeting, during which product release dates are set in stone. 
Carl asked that I film the meeting and “show it to your HR cronies to illustrate what real leadership looks like".

In the meeting, Comrade Carl stated that a new product version to a Cook Islands client needs to be released 6 months earlier than planned and asked for comments. Sanjay, Sanjay, Sanjay, Svetlana, Svetlana, Svetlana and Igor all claimed that the new commitment  was "doable". 

Nguyen, true to style, kept silent. 

Aaron claimed that the new release date is delusional but the "client does not know his ass from his elbow, so we can blame them when the product backfires".

Comrade Carl told Aaron that he appreciated his openness, and asked me to escort Aaron to Ms Axe, for a “choppy choppy” session as well as a new membership card to our Early Bird Involuntary Retirement Plan. Aaron had a brief meeting with Ms Axe, and he left the building with his head tucked underneath his arm.

I challenged the comrade over lunch an hour later, noting that “in my correspondence with the British and Scandinavians, I have noticed that dissent may have a positive function in creating commitment”.

The Comrade downed 2 cheeseburgers, four brandies and a martini and was silent for ten minutes, during which I texted my sister and picked at my chicken salad. Then Carl lectured me as follows.

“Gloria you don’t have a fucking clue. Dissent is important only the decadent west, where opposition is “loyal”. Loyal opposition?  Are you crazy? Jesus Christ. In the west, the opposition serves as a check and balance, and protects the minority. That’s why the west is fading. Everywhere else, opposition is silenced, killed or stowed away in jail, kibinimat. There is no room for opposition in my regime. That’s why I’m so revered. That why I pay your salary. Btw  Gloria, read up on Comrade Lazar Kaganovitch, a fine administrator of creating firm commitment to a regime. And look how the good dentist Dr Assad of Syria bounced back from the brink - dumping his 4 millions dissenters in the heart of Europe".

I reminded Comrade Carl that none our products have been sold in 7 quarters. “That’s another issues Gloria. Don’t mix apples and pineapples”. 

Then Carl upped and left the table to pee, and apparently fell asleep on the can. I paid the bill, and went back to the office to play with my new German blockchain.

Carl's role model
Tovarish Kaganovitch

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Comrade Carl returns to work immediately after surgery

After a kila repair

As HR business partner, I often wonder around the cubicles, eavesdropping, gossiping and picking up tidbits of minutia in an effort to be ahead of the pack.

This week, I had planned to spend my time wandering around Comrade Carl Marks' Blockchain Department. The comrade underwent surgery on Sunday for a triple inguinal hernia (which he called a "kila") so I thought that this week would be a good time to gather information about Carl's leadership, in the opportune time of his sick leave.

When I entered the physical domain occupied by Comrade Carl's nerds this morning, I was surprised to see them sitting on the floor, surrounding their leader who had come straight from the hospital.
Comrade Carl was gaunt and he certainly was not sitting down, but he appeared clearly in charge. He told his nerds that it took 12 men to strap him down to the operating table, and that he talked on his cellphone giving orders even as he was put to sleep "by a Russian anesthesiologist named Vlad".  

Comrade Carl told his nerds that hernia surgery is "nothing at all" and although he feels a twinge here, there and don't ask where, he is in full command and "I will shoot the first nerd who tries to move into my space. Don't fuck with me".

Comrade Carl told his nerds that "I could have had sex an hour after surgery, but decided not to, because risk assessment is the duty of the commander".

Carl then asked all of his nerds to kiss his ring, and wish him "refuah shlema", a full recovery in some strange tribal ritual. 

"Gloria let's go to a stand-up lunch table", suggested Carl, who walked slower than usual, more like a duck that a person.

Carl said, "I am not a liberal leader, sweet Gloria. My nerds come from 3rd world shitholes where weakness means "here is a chance to take control and ax the leader. All that bullshit HR theory teaches compassion, but there is no compassion, just power. You are either a hammer or a nail, kibinimat."

Carl handed me a $20 bill and said, "lunch on me. I'm going out to run a mile. Lunch is not good for my Gesundheit".

I saw Carl get into a taxi, slowly, and head home.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

We need to hire a marketing manager pronto in order to convince our install base and potential clientele to admire our product as it should be, with vision and messianic expectation.

Pilates uber alles

CEO Stan's wife, who all we all call Wifey, invited me out for lunch, in line with her core value of scrutiny. Wifey is a brainy damsel, and if you ask me, she does not really hold Stan in as high esteem as does his management team.

Wifey told me that she just had finished an adult education course on the "legacy of the Obama foreign policy" . 
Wifey explained to me that Obama crafted his policy towards the Middle East as it should be, as opposed to how it actually works. 
Wifey told me that except for Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, his value-driven foreign policy paid off, as it were. "He even won the Nobel peace prize. He transcended reality. That was brilliant".

After our dessert of coffee and Danish with 5 scoops of vanilla ice cream, Wifey suggested that I propose some changes to our HR policies factoring in the Obama doctrine, while mitigating the risks. "Perhaps you can convince the nerds to value their salaries and management as they should be".

When I asked Wifey to put more meat on this proposal, she told me that "I shall rely on you, my darling Gloria. You are sharper than a Swiss knife and sweeter than a Hungarian cupcake". Then Wifey left the restaurant and I picked up the tab, which I expensed.

When I got back to the office, I updated Comrade Carl Marks, our chief nerd, and asked how he would go about incorporating Wifey's proposal. 

"Eureka," bellowed Carl and took a shluck from his joint. "HR is useless and can be replaced by a voice automated bot, however, we have herein a great opportunity to milk our investors for more money. We, meaning you Gloria, need to hire a marketing manager  pronto in order to convince our install base and potential clientele to admire our product as it should be, with vision and messianic expectation. Then they will accept the metaphysical essence of our product as it is".

Carl took yet another "shluck" of his joint, and gave me a kiss.  I was running late so I bolted out to my Pilates class. 

There are days when I feel that this job is a bit over my head, but in the positive sense.

Transcending reality with a shluck

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questionnaire- How diverse are YOU?

100% non diverse

Today was Diversity Day, and Hugh White, the straight white boy who runs our diversity plan, gave a lecture to our middle management about how to diagnose the level of diversity in each team. 

During Hugh's long, tedious, protracted lecture, the audience texted their family and friends, sending Whatsapp messages to their native homelands. When Hugh finished his talk, 69% of the nerds were sound asleep.

Hugh had prepared an online questionnaire, which I have included below, which all middle managers need to "administer to the nerds in order to determine their level of diversity". A nerd who score 5 "yes" scores is considered "very diverse"; every manager can have no more than 30 direct reports with more than a 5 score. At least that's the HR diversity goal for 2020.

1) In your native homeland, can you vote more than once in each election?
2) Are women in your homeland often murdered if they loose their virginity before they are married?
3) Are mosque and synagogue shootings frequent?
4) Do you walk around your hometown with a gun, spear or hand grenade?
5) When you speak English, do clients often ask you to repeat yourself?
6) Do you like spicy, hot food?
7) Does your native homeland have free, unfettered elections, yet most journalists are in jail?
8) Do you need to pay for sex before marriage in your homeland?
9) Does the  Field-Marshall,  King or Queen of your native land advocate flogging people who engage in some types of sexual activity?
10) Are more than 30% of politicians in your tribal homeland generals or former generals? 

Hugh sent me an email just now, after having scored the above questionnaire for all our engineers.

"Gloria, we have problem. There is no one who is not diverse except for you and me. Hugh"

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Blockchain and labour contracts


In today's post, I shall share with you, my loyal readers, innovations to our new labour contract.  
I generally do not share my thought leadership free of charge; this having been said, sometimes I cannot control my selflessness and I cave in, from an HR perspective. So let me roll out the whole story.

I just returned from a meeting with our labour relations lawyer,  to whom I explained needed refinements to our existing employee contract. I constructed these refinements using an Austrian blockchain which was assembled in Hungary.

The lawyer-boys heard me out, promising that within a week, it will all be word-smithed and ready for launch. 
By the way, in grade school, there were twin girls in my class, Sheila and Sharon Wordsmith.

Some of the changes in the contract may be perceived overly liberal, yet I promise my readers that Liberal is not my middle name. Alas, I was never given a middle name. Had I been given such a name, I would have been called "People".

Now to the meat. These are the main points which will be introduced into our labour contract.

1-Long term employment is not in anyones’ interest. It is an old fashioned and stodgy concept. Employees agree that being fired by text is part of the deal, Lucille.

2-Clearly, salaries and other pecuniary perks will be aligned with client payment schedules

3-Employees understand that discretionary effort and running an extra mile are our core values, augmented by intrinsic motivation and willingness for self-sacrifice.

4-Mobile phones are to be left open; calls are to be answered seamlessly within 3 rings. During bio-breaks and sexual activity, the phone will be set on vibrate.

5-Remember and respect the HR lady, so that your days may long upon the Earth.

When I left the lawyers office, one of the young interns walked me to my car, carrying my briefcase. 
The lawyers have a way of making me feel like a million dollars. It provides me with meaning.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Building bridges between Nerds and Sales People-The role of the HR lady

It has been one month since our latest product was released and launched in a small corrupt island off the coast somewhere in the Pacific near Australia, where people throw spears and litter the beach with plastic.

The product crashed upon installation, taking out the Island’s electrical grid for 3 weeks. Many people in the aforementioned island don’t use electricity, but the prime minister and his family sure do and a lot of noise was thus generated.

Our sales manager, who had visited the island several times, is now being held hostage, and being fed with tribal food which is far too spicy.

In the meantime, the interface between our Sales team and R&D team has degenerated, making the middle-east look like a garden of peaceful co-existence. To be more exact, there have been 3 stabbings in the parking lot, and a Molotov cocktail was thrown in the dining hall.

Naturally, this is a people problem and I acted without delay by holding a round table dialogue between Sales and R&D under my auspices in the HR Conference Room aka the Vatican.

The discussion got out of hand after Comrade Carl Marks made his opening comments.
This is what Comrade Carl said, after I promoted HR and then handed him the microphone.

“Nerds, salesmen and sales women, Gloria, the precious Ms Axe, I wish you all a good afternoon. Lend me your ears. Instead of pointing out how useless our Sales team is, and how finicky our client is, I want to tell you about how things work in Saudi Arabia”.

I knew then that this dialogue would be non-wow. The Comrade continued.

“The Sauds and the Wahhabis are two families who work in synergy to run the joint. The Sauds provide the state mechanism and the armed forces, and the Wahhabi boys provide religion and morality. It works wonders, except a limited number of unexpected excesses, which happen everywhere, even in Britain.”

“I see the relation between Sales and Engineering much in the same light. We are 2 love birds in the same nest. We engineers provide the user experience, the brains, the sophistication; Sales handles the tut—tut-tutting customer and other background noise by managing customers’ expectations. It is a marriage made in heaven”.

Comrade Carl then pointed at me saying, “Gloria has good intentions, but HR is full of shit. In Saudi Arabia, most of the HR managers are either British expats or Saudi princesses. Gloria is from Canada, and with all due respect, what does she know about anything except paper work and visas? This conference is dismissed”.

Carl pointed at the door and told his nerds, “bara bara”, with means go out, I was told. But I am not sure in which language.

I just got this text from our CEO Stan. “Gloria- great work. I heard that Comrade Carl gave a great speech. Stan”.

Bara bara