Posted by Erik Even on Aug 17, 2009 in Employment
It can be confusing, sometimes, to figure out what a human resources manager does. Is he or she a representative of management, a manager, or an employee advocate? (Yes.) Is he or she involved in payroll, hiring, and benefits? (Yes.) Can you go to your HR Manager if you have an issue with your superior? (Yes.)
The HR person’s role can vary between companies. But here are some basic responsibilities:
Hiring: Often, managers at a firm will write up a description for a position they need filled. The HR manager will then act as a recruiter — placing the job ad, evaluating responses, and setting up interviews with potential employees. If the HR manager is happy with the outcome of that first interview, he or she will set up one or more interviews with the actual manager and other executives, sometimes on the same day.
In my experience, especially concerning technical and new media positions, an HR manager will happily pass you along to your potential supervisor, who will decide you are not a fit for the position at all. What’s the disconnect between the HR manager and the supervisor? Usually a lack of communication, and a poor understanding on the HR Manager’s part of what the position entails.
Member of management: One of an HR manager’s primary duties is to ensure professional business practices in all human resources decisions and communications. Usually this involves creating an employee manual, and then enforcing the rules of the manual. In a growing company, the HR person may need to demolish the fun, freewheeling atmosphere of a small company in order to protect it from lawsuits as it becomes a medium-sized or large company.
HR managers must be on the lookout for inappropriate behavior — sexual harassment, inappropriate jokes or pranks, racial or religious remarks, unsuitable work clothing, dangerous work practices that may lead to injury, etc. This applies to both management and non-management employees. At a well-run company, the HR manager has the authority to force management into behaving properly and treating employees with respect.
Employee advocate: When an employee is not getting what they are due — a raise, bonus or promotion, job resources, respect — the HR person becomes his or her advocate, working with the employee and with management to reach a solution. But if your HR manager has no pull with management, then they are ill-suited to advocate on your behalf. This is why unions exist.
Let us know what you think in the comments!
Posted by Erik Even on Jul 21, 2009 in Advice
From the Tubes — a Management-to-English translator:
That’s very interesting. I disagree.
I don’t disagree. I disagree.
I don’t totally disagree with you. You may be right, but I don’t care.
You have to show some flexibility. You have to do it whether you want to or not.
We have an opportunity. You have a problem.
You obviously put a lot of work into this. This is awful.
In a perfect world… I won’t give you any resources or guidance. Just get it working and get it out the door.
Help me to understand. I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I don’t think you do either.
You just don’t understand our business. I hire experts like you and then ignore their advice.
You need to see the big picture. The CEO thinks it’s a good idea.
If you do want to discuss it further, my door is always open. Go f— yourself.
I appreciate your contribution. Go f— yourself.
We’re going to follow a strict methodology here. We’re going to do it my way.
I didn’t understand the e-mail you said you sent. Can you give me a quick summary? I still can’t figure out how to work the e-mail program.
Cost of ownership is a significant issue. We want all of the benefits and none of the costs.
We have to leverage our resources. You’re working weekends..
Your project is on hold. Your project is canceled.
Wrong answer. You didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear.
You needed to be more proactive. You should have protected me from myself.
I’d like your buy-in on this. I want someone else to blame when this thing bombs.
We want you to be the executive champion of this project. I want to be able to blame you for my mistakes.
We need to syndicate this decision. We need to spread the blame if it backfires.
We have to put on our marketing hats. We have to put ethics aside.
It’s not possible. It’s impractical. It won’t work. I don’t know how to do it.
It’s a no-brainer. It’s a perfect decision for me to take credit for it.
I’m glad you asked me that. My boss told me what to say.
There are larger issues at stake. I’ve made up my mind, so don’t bother me with the facts.
I’ll never lie to you. I’ll lie to you.
Our business is going through a paradigm shift. We have no idea what we’ve been doing, but in the future we shall do something completely different.
Human Resources. A bulk commodity, like lentils or cinder blocks.
The upcoming reductions will benefit the vast majority of employees. The upcoming reductions will benefit me.
Got any more? Post them in the comments!
Posted by Erik Even on Feb 24, 2009 in Employment
Here’s a test that’s been floating around the tubes. It’s a four-question management test, apocryphally attributed to Anderson Consulting (now Accenture). Don’t cheat!
Question 1: How do you put a giraffe in the refrigerator?
Correct answer: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe and close the door.
This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.
Question 2: How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?
Wrong answer: Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant and close the door.
Correct answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door.
This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your actions.
Question 3: The Lion King is hosting an animal conference; all the animals attend except one. Which animal does not attend?
Correct answer: The elephant. He’s in the refrigerator.
This tests your memory.
Question 4: There is a river you must cross. But it is inhabited by crocodiles. How do you manage it?
Correct answer: You swim across. All the crocodiles are attending the animal conference.
This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.
The claim is that about 90% of the professionals tested got all questions wrong, but pre-schoolers tended to get several correct answers.
How’d you do?