Wednesday, August 11, 2010

HR Has Feelings, Too, You Know!

First off, I hate talking or writing about work.  Work is boring.  No one wants to hear about someone else's work.  Why should I presume to think that MY work is any more interesting or valid than anyone else's?  That said, I'm about to launch into a story/rant about work.  So, you've been warned and can now choose your own adventure:  quit now and go do something else or keep reading knowing that I'm babbling about work.  Oh, and it's not a funny story.  I feel like I should also say that upfront.    It's not sad or anything, but it's not something you're going to think, "Oh, that Lainey!  What a character!"  That's probably not gonna' happen.  If it does, please feel free to let me know.

I spent over an hour in a meeting today to discuss what to do about an under-performing employee.  This is the third such meeting I've been in over the past 2 weeks.   All about different employees.  The focus of today's meeting was a middle-aged woman with some type of illness (maybe Parkinson's?) that she's not really willing to discuss with us and that she INSISTS is not affecting her productivity in any way.  It should be noted that this employee has either had this affliction since she started with us 5 years ago or she's just always been an under-performing employee.  Her problem is that she's slow.  Like sllllooooooowwwww slow.  Also, she doesn't really seem to grasp simple concepts and does not take any responsibility at all for her poor performance and insists that we are just out to get her.  By way of comparison, other employees enter/bill 100 trips a day; she enters/bills 30.  Her supervisor and manager have spent many, many, many hours coaching her and training her and trying to get her up to speed.  They've taken away extra tasks and assigned them to other employees and when she still wasn't able to hit the minimum requirement, they took another chunk of responsibility away from her and sent her through training again.  During all of this she has maintained that there's not a problem and that they're just picking on her.

The supervisor and manager don't want to fire her, my boss doesn't want to fire her, no one wants to get rid of her, but there's nowhere else for her to go within the organization.  I guess the reason I'm writing this is because I get SO tired of hearing people say things like, "HR is out to screw people", "Corporations only care about the bottom line", "Employees are just numbers", blah, blah, blah.  You know what?  SHUT THE FUCK UP.  Of course companies are concerned with the bottom line! If you work for a company that isn't,  I suggest you start looking for a new place of employment, because yours isn't going to be around for long.  HR is NOT out to screw people.  Holy crap, do you even know how much fucking paperwork is involved to write-up and/or fire someone?  How much extra documentation has to be done?  It's ridiculous.  HR doesn't want to screw you.  HR doesn't even want to deal with you, so there's no way in hell they're TRYING to get you in trouble.  As far as employees being "just numbers", that's just dumb.  It's a symbiotic relationship.  The company exists to make money.  That's its function.  In order to make money, the company must have employees and in order to pay the employees the company must make money, so the employees must perform in a satisfactory and productive manner in order for the company to make the money to pay the employee for the satisfactory and productive work.  SEE?  It's a cycle.  They depend on each other.

Are there incompetent, jackassy, unethical, supervisors, managers, and directors in companies?  Absolutely.  Does management sometimes hate one of their employees?  FOR sure.  But, overall, supervisors, managers, and HR are all there, the same as you, trying to do a good job.  Trying to balance the needs of the company with the needs of the many employees.  They're trying to get their work done, while they review yours and they don't want to discipline or fire people.  They will hold many meetings (and sometimes sweep things under the rug) and review policies and lose sleep over the decision to terminate someone's employment.  The COMPANY may be an entity, but the people making the decisions and doing the hard task of writing someone up or eventually firing them are PEOPLE.  These people really aren't rubbing their hands together and twirling their mustaches and cackling with glee over the prospect of screwing you over, they're trying to find ways to help you, so that you are a productive and satisfactory part of the work cycle.  Please stop believing that Corporate America is out to GET YOU.  That seriously doesn't even make sense if you really stop to think about it and every time you repeat that little motto, it helps to create an environment of distrust and resentment and takes away YOUR ownership of your own life and your own destiny.  It makes you a victim.  Stop it.

Unless you're an asshole.  Then maybe your HR department is out to get you.  (I'm kidding.  Mostly.)


TK said...

Kiddo, you are preaching to the motherfucking choir on this one. When I took my job, I inherited about 500 pounds of fucking deadweight that no one had bothered to deal with. Employees that people managed around, instead of actually managing. So now, I get to be the bad guy. Yeah, that rocks.

But you're right. 99.5% of the time, it's not because management or HR is some cabal of evil Machiavellian schemers. 99.5% of the time it's because there is a legitimate goddamn problem. Most times, we try to help you solve the problem - training, coaching, yada yada yada. After that fails?

Hit the fucking road.

I just had one of my managers (a manager) in for a disciplinary meeting because he made some pretty crude and unacceptable remarks about a 16 year old girl. And didn't realize that "I was just kidding" was not an acceptable response. So now I gotta put my firin' pants on again, which I fucking hate to do. (note: despite what you may think, no matter how incompetent a person may be, very few people enjoy firing people.)

Whoops. Looks like I had some ranting to do too. I should really dust off that blog some day. Apologies.

Lainey said...

TK - I hope you don't spill soup/yogurt/cereal/salsa/*insertmessyfoodhere* on your fancy firin' pants!

Sorry about your manager. I'm certain that you and I could trade some war stories. It's always fascinating to me that people think it makes sense for a company to spend money on recruiting, hiring, & training, just to turn around and fire someone for "no good reason" or "on a whim". It's just illogical.

Feel free to rant here anytime. Although, I'd love to read your blog rants again, too!

ahamos said...

Oh Lainey I heart you SO HARD.

Tracer Bullet said...

I dunno. The people who fired me didn't seem to agonize much over the decision. That said, why are they so reluctant to fire this woman?

Lainey said...

Oh Ahamos - Right back atcha'.

Tracer - I can't speak for your former employers, but just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it didn't happen. We don't show emotion when we terminate employees either, because a) it's not open for negotiation at that point & sympathy or saying "sorry" opens that up for discussion and b) because you have to maintain a distance so you can continue doing your job. Your employers may also have been sociopaths who had no emotions or maybe you were the asshole they were just waiting to fire? Who knows?

The reluctance to fire her is a long answer. The short version? She's older, she has some sort of illness, she's not really hireable elsewhere & no one wants to see her lose her livelihood.

Tracer Bullet said...

No, I mean, they made decision in something less than half-a-day and evidently with little or no discussion.

TWoP Fan said...

It seems to be rather hard to fire people, actually. I work as a vendor in a grocery store and I've seen people fuck up in the most spectacular ways get little more than a time out. That said, I sure as hell wouldn't want to fire anyone. Except maybe that asshole in produce.

Claire Sattler said...

For me, it really depends on the situation and in where are you kinda in favor of. You know it's hard to get fired and lose your job, and yet it's also hard to say to an employee straight into his face that he's fired. But the bottom line here is that we must be really sensitive into the feelings of other people. We must not say anything that will make them hurt.

With regards to the HR people, it's really been hard for them to do these kinds of stuff. Especially if your company's computer system doesn't seem to work properly. But there are some companies like here in Ottawa, computer support group have been working out all the departments in a company (particularly HR) and also in Ottawa, computer tech support group have a lot of better software for every company to improve their services for their employees and for their clients as well.

Carlene Schnitzer said...

It's also hard to know which one we are going to be in favor of. They all have their sides, and they are all doing their job. I've had a lot of jobs in the past, and I lost them all, unfortunately. At first, I find it so hard to understand why they all fired me. But now I fully understand their point and thank God, I'm now working in a small business company. Our HR and accounting team are now using Peachtree accounting software and ACT CRM software to give us accurate and more reliable info that we need regarding our work performance and payroll. And I kinda love this job of mine, too!

Soren Duus said...

Firing people is very hard indeed. It takes a toll deep inside you, like it eats you. Conscience and stuff will haunt you through the night... well, not really. But maybe that's the case for your bosses - that's why they don't wanna fire her. Even I wouldn't even think of firing her - I maybe obnoxious but I'm not totally out of conscience. I've stopped working as an HR and switched into the accounting advisor, where I do Quickbooks support (It took me a while to understand Quickbooks pro, but I can't afford to get left behind). My job is great compared to being an HR. Less stress and pressure from co-workers too!