More School

I have not been a big fan of Education Secretary Arne Duncan since the fiasco with the President’s school address.  Encouraging schools to let kids watch the President’s address during the school day is one thing, but as for that lesson plan to the teachers – well, we know how that went over.  Now the administration is proposing lengthening the school year.  You can read the full story here.

            His theory is that kids in other countries go to school longer, so we should too.  As this article points out, however, the kids who traditionally but the U.S. students on math and science tests – those from Asian countries – have fewer instructional hours spread over more school days.  In fact, we might be able to catch up with other countries on the number of school days by simply reducing the number of days off during the school year.  Do we really need to have Columbus Day and Martin Luther King Day off of school?  It’s not as if the kids will spend their day off honoring Columbus or Martin Luther King – it’s just a free day for them.  Also, how many “institutional days” do we really need during the school year?  If we can add 10 or 11 days to the school year by cutting out some of the days off, we could easily catch up to the number of school days that Japan and Hong Kong have.

            Duncan does make a good point, though.  Our calendar is based largely on the agrarian lifestyle that is far from the reality of most of today’s students.  In fact, the more time kids spend in school, the less time their working parents have to cover with day care, after care, summer camps and other costly alternatives.  However, do we want to go so far as to make the school system into a daycare system?  Will having kids in school from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM help their education as much as it will help their parents with day care issues?

            During the fall and winter months, when the days are shorter, kids would be going to school and coming home in the dark, which makes me a bit leary.  Having kids wait at bus stops in the dark makes me worry about safety.  During spring and summer months, when the weather is nicer, kids get more restless and want to play outside more. If the days are extended, more breaks and variety need to be included.  Kids (mine in particular) can only sit still and learn for so long at a stretch. 

            On the other hand, summer can be quite long.  I had my son in a theater camp for nine weeks during the summer, and he absolutely loved it.  Even with that long a period in camp, I still had about two and half weeks of summer to “cover” for day care between the end and the start of the school year.  I am glad he went through camp, because it kept him busy doing something other than watching TV for endless hours, had him socializing with kids of various ages, had him involved in learning activities, and had him learning in a way that doesn’t happen in a regular school setting. 

            I think kids need enrichment beyond the traditional classroom and the opportunity to explore extracurricular activities and interests.  If the schools want to extend the school day to offer these extras, that would certainly benefit the students and some working parents as well.  I think shortening the summer will help some students who tend to lose a lot of what they’ve learned during this time, because they have no opportunity to reinforce learning.  My son’s school provided math exercises for him to work on over the summer, and we did work on those a little bit.  I also enroll him in the library’s summer reading program every year, so we keep up with reading

            With all that said, I still think the decision to extend the amount of learning time, how to use that time, and what resources to dedicate to the extended school hours, should be left to the states’ requirements and the individual districts, based on needs and affordability.  If the federal government wants to help, they can provide grants to schools based on needs and requests.  That’s my bias against too much federal intervention.

Posted in Current Events, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Personal Branding Dilemma

            I don’t know if Dan Schawbel would agree with this definition, but personal branding, as I understand it, is developing one clear message and consistently delivering that message through all of your communications.  This includes your tweets, blogs, comments on LinkedIn and Facebook, webpage, printed advertisement, etc.  If you look at the titles of my blog roll to the right, the lastest “tweets” underneath, the many LinkedIn groups I belong to (41 at last count), my Twitter bio, or even the title of this blog page, you will see I have big problem with the Rule of One.

            I cannot seem to find that single passion for One Thing.  I love my family and being a wife and mother.  I have been a dedicated member of the Human Resources profession for more years than I care to admit.  My interests in psychology lead me to pursue another graduate degree, and I got through about 45 hours, or two thirds of the program, before the baby got in the way.  I cannot help but take an interest in current events, especially as they affect my career or my family.  My faith is another important aspect of my life, which is why I recently signed on as a catechist with my parish, just as my son begins his religious education.  As a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant, I am always interested in upcoming fashion and make up trends, even if I don’t try to follow all of them.  I tend to be less trendy and more traditional with my dress, so it’s fun to at least experiment with makeup, and well, skin care is a must.

            All of these interests have been found in my tweets and blogs and profiles.  My coming tweets and blogs will be very focused on fitness and wellness, another area of interest.  I have just ordered the P90X program for “total body transformation”.  Drastic situations require drastic action, and a former marathon runner who gains 30 pounds of body fat within two years needs a drastic solution.  By Christmas I should fit into some of my older dresses.  I will probably regret not glomming more of my late sister’s clothes after her passing, but I am just too big to wear most of them.  I intend to fix that.  Blogging and tweeting will be a way of holding myself accountable for my actions and progress.

            So who am I really, and what do I want to share with the world?  If asked to define myself, I could probably narrow this down to counselor and teacher.  Being a parent is like being a little of both.  Being married is a form of self-improvement therapy in itself.  As a human resources generalist, I can practice both in training and counseling and coaching. In fact, I am most on my game when I am acting in these roles.  I am no expert on fitness, but I have learned a lot from my many years of running and training, and I enjoy passing that knowledge along.  As for my faith, well it’s always within me and it comes out spontaneously, when it’s appropriate (I hope).  However, I still do not think I have summed up all that I am, all that I do and all that I care about even in this paragraph.

            Maybe personal branding isn’t for me.  Maybe my mission as part of the social networking scene is to just be: to let whatever is on my mind or whatever piques my interest to come out and be shared, in the hope that someone else will gain something from it.  I know that I am gaining from the connections I am making online, so I hope I am giving something of value in return, even if am a bit all over the map.

Posted in Current Events, Human Resources Profession, Parenting, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So What Was All the Fuss About?

            This is definitely yesterday’s news.  Yesterday President Obama made a benign, encouraging and inspiring address to the nation’s students, some of whom saw it, some of whom didn’t, and some of whom will see it after the fact.  Which students see it and which don’t will depend on decisions made by the districts, the teachers and the parents.

            I was told well in advance that my son would not be able to see the webcast live, but would likely see the recording at a later time, whenever it would be most convenient for his class.  I actually gave my son a preview by reading from the text of the speech, which was available on the internet, while he was doing his homework yesterday.  He seemed very engaged in what I was reading and in what he was doing.

            Now that it’s all over, isn’t silly how people overreacted?  Why wouldn’t parents want their children to respect their nation’s president as a representative of the country and the institution of the presidency?  Why would anyone not want their child to have the opportunity to be inspired by an eloquent speaker and our country’s current leader?  Is it not appropriate for our leader to encourage our children to dream big and work hard for those dreams?  Haven’t other presidents, including Reagan, delivered similar messages to our nation’s youth?  Really, what was all the fuss about?

            Well, the fuss started not so much with the announcement that the President would be issuing a webcast to students, but with the lesson plan that was offered up by the White House to accompany the speech.  This included requesting the students write letters to themselves stating how they would help the President.  The White House, amidst the public outcry, admitted that this was “inartfully worded” and was corrected.

            The fuss was fueled by the fear that students would be “indoctrinated” to support the President’s policies, which many parents do not support.  The fuss was that the address would be a step toward a socialist indoctrination of the nation.

            Before the speech, a friend asked me what I thought of Obama.  I had nothing negative to say about the President, but responded that I am not a socialist.  She laughed.  She believes most people in this country aren’t socialists.  I wonder.

            Socialism is an economic model based on state ownership of the means of production and distribution, resulting, theoretically, in a more egalitarian distribution of wealth than we find in a capitalist model.  The idea that the White House would encourage young and impressionable children to listen to the President’s message and consider how they can help the President sounds a little like they are trying to plant the seeds of loyalty to the State as an ideological model.  Why would this be important to a leader who embraces a socialist economic philosophy? 


“Socialism cannot exist without a change in consciousness resulting in a new fraternal attitude toward humanity, both at an individual level, within the societies where socialism is being built or has been built…”

Che Guevara, Marxist revolutionary, 1965


If a socialist system will ever be accepted in this country, a change in attitude will be necessary, and it must start with the youth.  This is what all the fuss was about: the belief that President Obama, who wishes to take steps towards nationalizing health care, who wants to appoint czars to run various aspects of the economy, who associates with radical extremists (think Reverend Wright and the erstwhile Green Czar Van Jones), and who wants to issue lesson plans to all of the nation’s schools, is leading this country in the direction of socialism and wants to get the kids on board.

            In retrospect, that may seem silly and paranoid, but we don’t know what the President’s speech looked like before the public weighed in.  In hindsight, the White House would have done better to release the contents of the speech early on and encourage teachers to use the public address in any way they felt appropriate, allowing schools to develop their own lesson plans based on their own goals.  As a pep talk or a civics lesson, the speech would fit well in to a social studies curriculum. 

            At any rate, after much ado about everything, all’s well that ends well.  I am happy to have my son hear the President’s message, and – for those who read my previous article – my son is happy to report that I am still the only girl he has kissed on the lips. J

Posted in Current Events, Parenting | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

I Will Send Him to School on Tuesday

            Two things happened this week that made me realize that parenting in the 21st century is much more challenging than I imagined it would be.  First, my 6 year old son told me that he wanted to kiss a girl, and “not on the cheek”.  Well!  He did tell me this in private and insisted this remain a secret between us, so I really shouldn’t be blogging about it, but I know you won’t tell anyone! (smile)  My son reminded me that he has been waiting six years he’s “done” waiting.  Well.

            The other thing that happened is that I read on the internet that President Obama was planning to address students across the country on Tuesday, September 8.  Not only that, but teachers will be encouraged to talk about U. S. presidents, including President Obama, to write letters to themselves about how they can help Obama, and think about what Obama is asking them to do.  Well.  The responses on the Facebook page following the video clip of the Fox News announcement were resoundingly negative, from “Leave our kids alone” to “Education, not indoctrination”, and “Get them while they’re young, Evita”.  Many parents were considering keeping their kids home on Tuesday.

            So how did my son, who usually says he doesn’t like girls, become so passionate about wanting to kiss a girl, and “not on the cheek”?  From his friends, of course.  One friend his own age and another who is a year older both claim to have kissed a girl on the lips when they were only 5 years old.  I immediately told my son two things: (1) You can only kiss a girl IF she gives her permission.  If she says “no”, she is off limits.  (2) Never kiss and tell.  He can tell me about it after, in strict confidence, but he must never tell anyone else about it, and certainly not mention her name.  In short, respect her body and her privacy.  I had always planned to pass these messages along to my son, I just didn’t think it would have to be so soon.

            I spoke to my son’s teacher on Wednesday night, which was Parents’ Night, and she had just received an email regarding the Obama school address, but had not yet had time to read it.  I went to see the principal at the school, who was good enough to forward me the file of the curriculum that was sent to the schools. It was pretty much as publicized.  It appeared innocuous at first, but as I read through, it seemed like there would be a lot of pro-Obama agenda subtly worked into the message.  The principal also explained that they would show the webcast to the classes at different times and use the message to reinforce the school rules – Respect, Responsibility, Safety – and the teachers’ already existing efforts to get the kids to set goals for themselves.

            After my evening at my son’s school, I realized I needed to add to my initial reaction to my son’s announcement.  I told him in addition to (1) getting permission and (2) keeping it private afterwards, he would have to choose a time and place for this event that would be private.  In other words, he could not kiss a girl at school.  “Do you want me to wait until I’m 7?” He asked.  I told him I wanted him to wait until it’s the right person and the right time for him.  That seemed to settle him down a bit.  He is still interested, but he is willing to wait for it to happen.  He also is willing to wait until he she, whoever she may be, says it’s okay.

            Many parents around the country are worried about what message or “indoctrination” their children will receive when Obama addresses the nation’s children in school, particularly those parents who are not in agreement with Obama’s policies.  I doubt that he will say anything as egregious as From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.  You can read my earlier article to see how I feel about that bit of socialist doctrine.  I am less concerned with the President’s actual speech, which should soon be available on the internet for parents to preview.  More important will be how the message is reinforced.  If my son’s teacher uses the message to reinforce working hard in school, being responsible and setting academic goals for himself, I think that will be appropriate.  If the message gets any more “political”, I will be less pleased with the whole idea.

            Regardless of what happens on Tuesday, I will send my son to school and encourage him to listen to the President’s address.  I will ask him to tell me about it at home.  Then I will know how he is processing the message.  You see, I cannot prevent my son from being influenced by the outside world, be it friends, teachers with liberal views, older kids, television, or whatever.  There is no point to trying to prevent my son from seeing the President’s webcast.  My job as a parent is to assert my own influence over him.  Right now, what I say and what I think still matter more to him than anything else.  This won’t always be the case.  However, I can encourage him to think for himself and filter out the multitude of influences that will bombard him over the years.

            I still don’t know whether or not my son will kiss a girl “not on the cheek” while he is still only six years old, but at least I have had my say, and he has listened.  I cannot really stop him from doing whatever he has set his mind to, but I can use my influence as a parent to encourage him to make the right choices.  At some point, I will have to trust him to make the right choices and think for himself.  Maybe the 21st century parent has to reach that point a lot sooner than our parents did.

Posted in Current Events, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why You Need HR

This is part two of my rant against the unfair assumptions against us HR folks.  Here why you really need us:

 Case 1:

I was out of my home office at another site for three days. When I returned, I found out that the GM of our home division transferred one manager and hired a former colleague to fill the newly vacated position. I was totally unaware these moves were taking place. By the time I learned of the new hire, the deal was done. Unfortunately, there was an assistant manager in the department who was given no consideration for the position. There was no posting or other recruiting. The new manager was under 40 years of age. The assistant manager who had been passed over was over 40 years of age. It took two years, but she got her settlement.

 Case 2:

An employee with a severe illness was covered under a self-funded group health plan that carried stop-loss insurance.  The carrier for the stop-loss insurance was the same carrier the company had for the long-term disability (LTD) insurance.  The LTD department contacted HR to find out if this employee would be filing an LTD claim.  They knew of his situation, because the carrier was now paying his medical bills.  HR learned upon inquiry that the employee had been out of work for several months, but was still receiving a full paycheck!  He was not transferred to short-term disability status and was not collecting the STD benefits the company was paying for and the employee was entitled to.  He was not later converted to LTD status, in order to collect the LTD payments that the employee was entitled to under the plan the company paid for.  He was never put on FMLA status.  Naturally, the general manager who allowed this employee to be absent from work due to serious medical condition and continue to receive a regular paycheck without informing HR of his status had no intention of converting him to COBRA status under the terms of the company’s policies.  But under these policies, an employee who is not actively at work (paycheck not withstanding) and not on leave status or COBRA status is not a covered person.  The manager who tried to protect his employee from the clutches of the evil HR lady who would have (gasp) put him on leave and required him to receive STD benefits and later LTD benefits, then would have (shudder), forced him onto COBRA, thus protecting his status as a covered person and maintaining coverage for himself and his family at a time when he needed it most.  Ignorance of the need for and nuances of the policies and coverage provisions nearly caused this general manager to inadvertently render his special employee ineligible for his medical benefits.

 Case 3:

An employee had a disagreement with her supervisor and walked off the job, normally cause for automatic termination.  But the next day, before the start of her shift, the employee went to HR and complains that her mean and nasty supervisor told her to go home, and that he doesn’t like women.  She went on to say how this mean and nasty supervisor is always picking on the females in her department, even requiring her to do twice as much work as one of the male employees.  HR advised the employee to return to work at the start of the shift, and the matter would be investigated.  While the matter was being investigated, HR received a written change notice from the supervisor indicating the employee had walked off the job and not returned.  The supervisor would later admit to the EEOC investigator that, while HR was investigating her claims of gender discrimination, he had prevented the employee from clocking in at the start of her shift, brought her to his office, and fired her.  That her original discrimination claims proved to have no merit was no longer relevant.  She prevailed on a retaliation claim.

            In all of these cases, managers acted on their own will and whims and engaged in personnel transactions without consulting, or even informing HR.  In fact, in these cases, HR was very deliberately left out of the picture until well after the fact.  In each case, the manager felt he was doing what was in the best interest of himself, his department, or his favored employee.  However, in each case, the manager’s intentions backfired with unintended consequences.  Two lawsuits had to be settled out of court and one employee was saved from losing coverage by the interventions of HR and the plan’s broker.  Also, another employee benefited, a pregnant hispanic female who went on disability leave for childbirth and received full pay, in order to be consistent with the benefits received by the white male employee who received the favored treatment by the general manager.

Here’s how these cases could have been handled differently.

Case 1: Post the vacant position for Customer Service Manager.  Interview the assistant manager, if she applies for the position.  Interview other internal and external candidates.  Write your business reasons for selecting one candidate over the others, including the incumbent assistant manager.  You may still a get claim from a disgruntled employee who felt entitled to the promotion, but at least you’ll have a documented case for your actions.

 Case 2: Follow your policies and procedures for a disabled employee.  File for the appropriate benefits and update his employment status as appropriate.  If you think requiring the employee to leave on the reduced pay afforded by the disability benefits, bonus him.  Make the business case for why the employee deserves additional compensation, based on his previous performance, and give him a bonus check.  The extra cash plus the disability pay benefits should be sufficient.  As for COBRA, don’t charge him for the premiums, or pay the premiums on his behalf to the TPA.  You’ve taken care of your special employee, he has not been “thrown out to the cold”, which is what we evil HR people seem to do, and his benefits and employment status have been protected.  Meanwhile, you have not set a precedent that will allow every employee who goes on STD to get a full paycheck.

 Case 3:  Don’t terminate any employee without HR present, or at least given advance warning.  Allow the investigation to proceed.  Let HR help you terminate the employee with less risk, if she doesn’t quit on her own first. 

            HR is not there to get in the managers’ way, and certainly not to harm employees with arbitrary and inhumane enforcement of policies.  HR is there to protect the company from rogue managers and supervisors who act on their own will and whim and put the company at serious legal risk at worst, or cause deeper morale issues at best.  None of the managers in these cases intended to maliciously abuse his power or do harm to his organization, but they DID do harm, out of ignorance of the potential consequences of their actions. 

            This is why you need HR.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Do You Have A Problem With A Fat Surgeon General?

            I was reading the SHRM articles on the home page when I came across Does Weight Impact Performance? This article discusses the weight of Surgeon General Nominee Dr. Regina Benjamin.  A country that by all accounts has an obesity crisis, one that is affecting our overall health care costs, has nominated a Surgeon General who is fat.  WOOPS! Let me be politically correct: a person who appears to be overweight. 

            My first thought: would this be a question if we were talking about a man?  I might be a little oversensitive here, but it just seems to me that men get a pass on things like excessive smoking, eating bad foods, drinking heavily and being overweight.  These behaviors don’t seem to draw the same amount of attention in a man as they do a woman. Somehow it just doesn’t seem seemly for us to be seen as having a healthy appetite, enjoying a few shots, puffing a cancer stick, or carrying a little belly fat. Those power suits just aren’t tailored to hide our little sins.

            President Obama, for his part, gets away with an admitted smoking addiction and eating cheeseburgers (or as we say in Chicago, “cheeborgor, cheeborgor, cheeborgor”).  These behaviors are more distressing considering he is black.  WOOPS! Let me be politically correct: He is a member of an ethnic group known to be at statistically higher risk for high blood pressure. But he does look good in a suit. 

            Gender issues not withstanding, there is a role model issue here.  Consider that I am not allowed, per school policies, to send my kid to school with snacks that are not wholesome or whole grain, such as a granola bar or an apple.  Sweets are discouraged for celebrating birthdays in school.  Either healthy snacks or non-edibles are preferred as treats to pass out for special occasions.  This stringency, I am told, is part of a nationwide effort to counteract the trend of obesity in children.  We all know, however, that no matter what rules the schools impose, it is what the children see and experience at home that will influence and form their eating habits.  Yet, the schools have a responsibility to set the right example and create the right image, or so the theory goes. 

            So for a nation that would benefit immensely from a concerted effort to make healthy living a priority, do we want our top doc to be an example of the American obesity crisis?  Let’s bring this down to another level, closer to home.  Many of work for companies that are trying to combat rising health care costs through wellness initiatives and incentives, including incentives for smoking cessation and weight loss, as well as activity, such as walking groups.  These initiatives are backed by management and usually spearheaded by Human Resources.  I am a living example of such a program.  I offered and encouraged a smoking cessation program for my employees, I encourage and provide premium reductions for those willing to take part in annual health risk assessment profiles on site, and I post articles and features on healthy living on the cafeteria bulletin board.  I should be setting the best example, right?  After all, I am a non-smoking former marathon runner who likes running (still), yoga, walking and swimming and believes in the physical and psychic benefits of such activities and stress management techniques.  I should be preaching what I practice, right?

            Well, here’s the rub.  I’ve gained weight.  Not the two to five pounds of water weight that my late sister used to complain about (earning her the title “Skinny Bitch”), but enough to put my BMI (body mass index) over the top of the range.  In other words, I got fat.  No PC BS here.  I’m fat.  I’m disgusted with myself.  I want to change.  I have been very frustrated with my efforts to do so.  I admit, I don’t feel like a very good role model, either for my employees or my family.

            The aforementioned article indicated that Weight Watchers had a more sympathetic take on this issue (if it really is an issue), citing that the position of Surgeon General may benefit from having a person who truly understands how difficult it really is to lose and maintain weight.  Amen to that.

            My question now is, do I have a responsibility to not only “make the effort”, but to actually succeed in losing weight in order to restore my credibility as the wellness program representative?  Is maintaining that role model status for healthy living an unwritten part of my job description?  Overweight people have always been stigmatized to some degree, but have we reached a point where weight management is now a real job criteria, like being properly dressed, using appropriate workplace language, being a good team player, etc.?

            I’d love to know your thoughts.

Posted in Current Events, Human Resources Profession | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Evil HR or Weak Management?

            Have you seen the blog of Evil HR Lady? ( You can see how she describes the perception of HR as the bearer of all bad news for the hapless employee who will be disciplined, demoted, transferred, terminated or whatever.  I once had an employee express a similar sentiment, namely that “You’re hired” is the last good news you get from HR.  After I kicked him out of my office, I started making a mental list of the things I have done to help my employees, such as fighting for their benefits coverage, answering their questions, helping them get legal or other professional advice when needed, defending their positions to management, and so on.  Apparently, this negative perception of HR persists, but I don’t believe HR is the real culprit here.

            First, I have never understood why I should have to fire an employee.  I don’t make those decisions.  Managers decide when to fire an employee.  I am usually the one trying to find ways NOT to get the employee fired, or trying to force the manager to make a strong case before terminating, so when the time comes, it will be a short conversation and there won’t be any surprises.  But many managers have a hard time managing.

            I had one who complained about her recent hire, the one she failed to train to do much more than make photocopies, but did not terminate during her probation period.  She didn’t think the person was worth anything, but still felt her presence was necessary to help with her workload when she went on vacation.  She figured she would fire the gal when she got back from vacation.  She figured wrong.  The employee suffered a work related injury while her boss was on vacation.  Further, she passed her 90 day probationary period without receiving any negative feedback from her boss.  So I told the manager to do the 90 day performance evaluation, explain the employee’s deficiencies, and give her an improvement plan.  If she failed to improve, the she should be fired.  The written evaluation turned out to be neutral and called for more one and one training, which the manager was supposed to provide.  This was hardly the documentation needed to make a strong case for termination.

            When it did come time to terminate the employee, I was expected to deliver the news, not the manager who had been trying for months to get rid of her.  The manager pretended to feel all badly about the termination, while I got to play the bad guy.  Who is really evil here?

            I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had managers who have utterly failed to provide candid feedback to an underperformer (even with my coaching and offer of support), then expect me to clean up their mess, like address the discrimination suit that comes later.  Sometimes it’s not that bad.  Sometimes I just have to be the one to break it to the employee that his or her boss is dissatisfied.

            The same comes at the time of merit increases.  Again, HR does not and should not decide how much of a raise each employee should receive, only the general guidelines for how compensation should be administered, such as the salary ranges and a range of possible increase percentages.  The department manager should have the nerve to tell the employee not to expect a 10% increase this year, because he or she really is not the star of the department.

            Managers often want to write up employees when they are frustrated with behavior or performance.  I am happy to take down the information, draft the corrective action documentation, and sit with the manager while this is reviewed with the employee to act as a witness or even a facilitator in the conversation.  Again, I can’t tell you how many times the manager will simply hand over the write-up to the employee, ask them to read and sign, and otherwise stay mute.  They want to stay relatively silent while I defend the action the manager initiated.

            If I am unsuccessful in advocating an employee’s position, I am “evil” because I “did nothing” to help the employee.  If I argue on behalf of an employee and against a management action I view as unfair, I am “evil” for not being totally on management’s side.  I am “evil” for demanding documentation from managers before taking adverse employment action.  I am “evil” for not hiring people quickly enough, because I either want to thoroughly vet the candidate first (eg. get a criminal background check, post-offer physical and drug screen completed), or because I need higher authorization before I can put the person on the payroll.  I am “evil” for not immediately getting rid of, or at least censoring, supervisors that are unpopular with certain employees.  Some employees like to think they must be the victim of some form of discrimination if a supervisor holds them accountable for some standard of performance.  I can’t always take the employee’s side.  I can’t always take the supervisor’s side either, so I’m always in the wrong in somebody’s eyes.

            Much of the previous paragraph is a description of the employee relations professional’s role – to be the neutral party between the workforce and management and try to resolve differences in a manner that’s legal and fair to BOTH sides of the employment relationship.  However, the managers have a responsibility to provide clear, consistent and candid feedback to their employees, as well as the training, coaching and support necessary to help the employee succeed.  I can try to help the manager along the way, be and advisor and provide support, but I shouldn’t be stuck doing the dirty part of their job.

            And that’s my vent for the day.  Again, I am opening myself up to a lot of criticism here, so let me have it!

Posted in Human Resources Profession | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments