Friday, September 04, 2009

Joke


What do you call a group of executives with no labor experience sitting around a table with union reps creating a bargaining agreement?

The idiots management at my company.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Don't Shoot the Messenger

If you work in HR, I find it hard to believe you wouldn't relate to this one. If you don't AND you are a manager, this is about you!

Imagine this scenario....

As an HR professional, you give advice to managers related to documenting performance issues, discipline, performance appraisals, little things called "laws"etc. Seems fairly straightforward right?

If it were that easy, I'd either be a millionaire or extremely bored at work.

Here's the problem (listen up managers), you DO NOT LISTEN. Then you get sick of your lack of really dealing with the issue and blame HR and/or your legal department for "standing in the way" of managing your problem employees when you decide to fire your "problem you did not manage."

Of course we aren't really allowed to tell you that your lack management skills led to this problem. Such statements (also known as "the truth") wouldn't represent an air of partnership and cooperation.

Which leads me to today's lesson...Accountability is for the other guy.

Sound familiar?

If it doesn't and you work in HR, I want your job.

If it does, welcome to the world of "The Truth of HR."

Yep, all the information you may have read about a career in HR was a ruse to entice you.

Often (daily), HR is the proverbial fall guy, the monkey wrench, the fly in the ointment, and much worse. Feel free to share how you have heard HR being described. It's not pretty.

I realize my role is advisory. I sell my point of view. I do not take it personally when management doesn't listen. While I don't want to sell myself short, most of it is common sense. My experience strengthens my position but in the end, it's a matter of calculated risk whether to heed the almighty (me).

All that being said, "I" am not the problem. If you don't want to listen, at least admit you are ignoring it. As much as I enjoy a healthy debate, you can't successfully debate good practices when yours stink.

I know you don't like the FMLA but the Department of Labor didn't ask for volunteers. Budget woes and you don't want to pay overtime in the week the hours were worked? Yep, clearly I have a creative, legal solution I have been hiding from you. No documentation and you want to fire a disabled employee? I'm sure no one will notice.

Of course I will get the job of working with legal on the response letter to the EEOC but as long as you get rid of your problem, it's a great day.

The real purpose of HR is to be a neutral touchstone. Today I got stoned and it wasn't in a enjoyable, illegal way.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Mandated Schedules

My company recently mandated a 4/10 schedule. Sound good? It's not.



  • It becomes much easier to jeopardize the exempt status of salaried employees.

  • Exempt employees generally work less hours in a week. I used to put in 45-50 on most weeks and a lot more when necessary. Now? 40

  • Decreased productivity. Assuming an employee works the same 40 hours they used to, are those hours as productive as a 5/8 schedule? Isn't productive time really the point of "working?"

  • Employees don't like their coworkers enough to spend 10+ hours a day together.

  • Instead of a "flexible schedule" being a perk, a mandated schedule easily becomes an expectation. It cannot be called "flexible" or "alternative" when it doesn't come with a choice.
  • Negative turnover results when employees cannot manage all of their responsibilities with a mandated 4/10 schedule. Is it worth losing them?

  • Goodbye work/life balance.

  • Goodbye single parents, parents of young children, and older workers.

  • Hello burnout, bitterness, bitchiness.

Management's attitude ....."Be thankful you have a job."

If only it were that simple.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Contagious Mismanagement

For quite some time, I have complained about my HR Manager, Mr. Shit4Brains. While I realize poor managers tend to attract and develop more bad managers, I am a bit surprised this happened in HR.

While I am not surprised about who can only be described as the worst HR Manager in the history of any HR department, I am surprised about his subordinates (my direct supervisor and her peers).

These people have been at my company long enough to remember how it was before Mr. Shit4Brains took the wheel of our proverbial Titanic. These are the same people who appear to share the department-wide frustration with his lack of knowledge, micromanagement, and embarrassing decisions.

Is this playing both sides or have they officially joined the dark side? Were they worn down, do they want to make their staff feel as micromanaged as they do, or do they enjoy the pseudo power they feel keeping us down?

S4B has always been an ass but these people thrived back in the days when we had autonomy and growth opportunities. Now they rarely delegate anything meaningful and usually steal credit for anything worth talking about.

Those of us in HR see this all the time but I cannot believe it could happen among my coworkers. HR professionals know how this ends. It's our job to deal with departments that have these types of problems. While everyone in HR should know better, these people DO know better. I don't get it.

I spend my morning commute hoping a bag of money falls off an armored truck. Seriously, like so many others, I am just waiting to get out.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Anniversary Banquet

Recently, I had the displeasure of attending an "Anniversary Banquet" to celebrate my astounding ten years of "service" to my company. I haven't dreaded anything more since the pain of childbirth.

To say it was a horrific experience would be an understatement.

I don't know what was worse, having to smile while Mr. Shit4Brains stood next to me for the obligatory picture or watching my fellow employees kiss ass to upper management.

On a side note, do you remember that song by Beck, "Loser?" It has become Mr. Shit4Brains mantra. Well, it's his mantra for me. "I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me." Yep, that says it all for him.

So, I listened to my fellow employees drone on about how time flies, how fabulous the food was (it wasn't), and how nice it was to spend time together away from work. Excuse me, this wasn't away from work. In fact, it was worse than work. At least at work, I can WORK. All I could do there was sit and pray for time to miraculously pass... quickly.

Although this banquet was not mandatory, it certainly would have been career suicide inappropriate to miss it. True recognition of my time served service would have been to give me a day off.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ban the BCC

I have a few issues with emails using the dreaded Blind (or Blank) Carbon (or Courtesy) Copy. First of all, it's not blind to everyone. Only the recipient is in the dark.

If you are bcc'ed, you know it. What am I supposed to think when I get bcc'ed? Was I placed in the bcc to protect my identity? To hide the fact that I got the email? Call me cynical but I believe most bccs are used to hide the fact that I got the email.

Doesn't that seem a little silly at work? I understand bcc for large groups of people who may not know each other. Protecting their privacy is obvious for those times.

Funny thing is I don't usually see this in my personal email accounts. I can get a joke, funny story, or obligatory cute picture of a friend's baby and see my name jumbled in with their family and everyone else they know. I do get annoyed when I get fifty emails resulting from Aunt Helen in Idaho hitting, "reply to all" to comment on the number of teeth the baby was showing in the picture.

Anyway, at work, the bcc is usually used for devious reasons. In my experience, it is used to share the responsibility yet deny credit. Have I mentioned how much I loathe my own gender as coworkers?

If you haven't figured it out already, allowing your insecurities into the workplace won't gain you high marks with me.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Future

With the current economy, the focus is on keeping a job. For those who lost theirs, they are looking. For those who have one, keeping it is the priority. Although both are important, there is an interesting change in many workplaces I believe will change the future significantly.

For those who keep their jobs, the way they were treated during these times will shape their futures. While many employers have been good to their employees and will continue to be, many are not.

These are the employers who believe the power has shifted. The long-looming labor shortage all of us in HR waited for has been temporarily interrupted by the economy. The shortage will be there but this isn't what we planned for.

Of course, in the grand tradition of taking advantage, many companies have turned 180 degrees to treating their best like children who are just waiting to misbehave. The autonomy earned has been reined in. The flexibility to have work/life balance? Poof, it's gone.

Right now, this can be overlooked because it is not the priority. At the same time, it will cause a different type of crisis when the economy improves. These employees will be the first to jump ship. While these employees are relieved to have jobs now, they will not forget the way they were treated.

Those of us who work with employees are aware of how far being treated with respect gets you and how easily it is destroyed. True commitment from employees is a one time deal. Once destroyed, companies never get it back. Employees may stay but they will not give their best.

If this was not true, many of us would not have jobs. I make a substantial part of my living off of poor management decisions. Right now, they are compounding.

During turbulent times, employee relations issues usually soar. Employees are afraid of the appearance of making waves. Others believe their issues will be seen as petty when they watched their coworkers get laid off. What management doesn't realize (or doesn't care) is that these issues are still there. The remaining employees are not engaged or productive.

This doesn't mean the wrong employees were laid off. This means you can't lay off coworkers and tell the survivors they are damn lucky to still be on the island. The survivors are now overworked, under appreciated, and uncertain about how long they will keep their jobs.

If you are a manager who tells your employees they should be thankful to have a job, don't expect them to thank you. In fact, don't expect them to still be your employees when things turn around.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dear HR Abby

This won't win me any friends but I have to say it. While I have been in a blogging slump lately, I think part of the reason is because I don't enjoy reading a lot of HR blogs anymore.

I realize all of my readers, many who are HR bloggers, are sitting on the edge of their seats for this, so here goes.

REASONS (Many) HR BLOGS SUCK

  • So many blogs exist simply to answer questions from "readers." While I realize many of these are genuine questions, I seriously doubt a lot of them are real. It's in the details. If you want to show off your so-called HR knowledge, just blog about the topic. I don't need a fake question. It's also pathetic to watch the blogger bash their reader who asked the question. Do you feel better now? Think you improved the long-held feeling that HR pros are naggy, high and mighty, know-it-all bitches? I guess many HR professionals believe there are stupid questions. If the question is that ridiculous, why waste your time answering it?

  • A lot of blogs (especially newer ones) are lame attempts to rip-off older, and many times, good blogs. Typically, these are the ones which answer questions, give "characters" fake names, and blog about topics seen on another blog two weeks ago. Not only do these blogs suck because their bloggers are thieves, but also because it's clear they are not being themselves. If you can't maintain your own style, stick to reading and commenting.

  • Networking blogs. While I realize there are blogs that truly do network, many are lame attempts to feed egos or find a partner in crime. If I was going to attempt to network for best practices or to find a job, I'd be pretty embarrass to present myself the way many of these bloggers do. Sometimes it's better to remain anonymous.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Labor=$$$

Those that read my blog realize I spend very little time discussing HR. I was better at making the HR connection when I started my blog but I have strayed off the path over time. Regardless, while ridiculous management and annoying coworkers tend to be my topics, I am going to jump back on the HR boat for a bit.

I realize everyone is tired of talking about "Card Check" but it's labor legislation that will set me free. I realized this a few years ago and got certified but the opportunity hasn't presented itself yet. ER and mediation are my fortes so labor won't be a stretch for me.

Regardless of what side of labor you represent, the main premise is the same. Both sides are greedy mongers who want to get everything and screw the other side in the process. I actually believe unions are a death sentence for both sides but that doesn't mean I won't make a living off of it. The voice of reason who seizes opportunities to create harmony and kicks off each bargaining session with a little Kumbaya is valuable. That value translates to money for me.

I have officially joined the dark side.

Petty Petty

Everyone has them ... petty coworkers. I don't why I have so many but they are everywhere.

Who is working on that project? Who has a closer parking space? Who is going to training?

These are the topics some of my coworkers can discuss for years. Every time I hear about these rampant discussions I am always surprised. The words "adult" and "professional" don't go hand in hand with petty, passive-aggressive discussions.

Inevitably, people pick a side and run with it. Of course on the few occasions they are called on their pettiness, they act sincere and innocent. They always get away with it which is why this behavior continues.

I thought high school ended at graduation.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Management is an Oxymoron (Moron)

Is it reasonable to assume managers should be able to manage themselves AND others? Apparently management training at my company has failed.

Here is a typical conversation with a member of management:

Me: We need to discuss how to handle this meeting with your employee.
Manager: Really? Do we haaavvve to? (Whining is mandatory for a crappy manager)

Me: In order to lay off your employee, we probably should discuss the meeting before it's held.
Manager: (Sighs heavily) Ok. What do I have to do? How long will the meeting take? Isn't this an HR thing? By the way, what's a budget?

God forbid I suggest we meet before the employee meeting so it appears we have some level of professionalism.

If I was making all the decisions with these layoffs, I would cut out half of management and save a lot of employees their jobs.

On a side note, my company has many more employees who don't know IF they are losing their jobs. Mine is included in this group.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Long Walk

Yep, I've been gone on a long walk lately from my blog. It can primarily be summed up in a word...Layoffs! My company is in the midst of them and of course HR is right in the thick of things. I hate this part of my job.

While I don't choose who goes and stays, I still feel horrible. It's usually the new employees who go. Those are the ones with fresh ideas. Yes, they may eat fruit in meetings but they work hard. Added to the list is long-term employees who are high performers but work in an area that needs to be reduced.

It's more difficult this time because there is nowhere else to go. These people get a severance and a future of uncertainty. Thanks for your service, Merry Christmas, screw you. They should make a new reunion site for former employees. I think those meetings will take place at the unemployment line.

It's not supposed to happen this way. Get an education and work experience and in exchange you will have security. It's a scary world out there and I'm afraid of how bad it will get before things turn around.

As for my HR department, we are intact for now but the majority of of my coworkers have no idea how many of them will not have jobs soon.

Hopefully I will have a few lighter topics to blog about soon.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

An Open Letter to the Big Kahuna

Dear Kahuna,

There are a few things I would like you to know about your horrific choice of HR Manager Mr. Shit4Brains.

Micromanagers are cancer to a workplace. This guy has taken of group of experienced professionals and turned them into his version of Charlie's Angels.

Does he realize his behavior creates the appearance that he can't trust his staff and is, therefore, a crappy manager? The organization realizes he is a pig from hell but apparently he hasn't gone far enough to get the boot.

Inexperienced managers tend to lack the experience to trust their staff. They NEED to know enough to utilize their resources. They don't have to be the expert in every facet of HR but they do need to know who is their go-to person. This guy won't even go to the resource. He goes to their supervisor to have them deliver the request/barked order/message of lunacy. I don't know if this is his version of "keeping you down" but I do know it is a great example of ineffective management.

HR is the last place for personal wars. Mr. Shit4Brains has a few scores to settle and attempts to use his position to settle them. Leaving out the fact that he really doesn't have power (advisory role of HR), he is outmatched. Additionally, his antics make the rest of us look horrible. Truly, the many strides I have made have been seriously impacted by his actions. The proverbial seat at the table is now the kid's table.

In closing, get rid of this guy before the lawsuits start coming in. I don't want to make threats, but the voodoo doll above could be activated in our next meeting.

All my best,
Pissed off in HR

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tagged, Part 2

Venting HR Guy tagged me so I guess I will try to come up with another six facts about myself. Don't count on them being too interesting.
  1. In a world of dog and cat people, I am definitely a dog person.
  2. If I didn't work in HR and didn't despise people in general, I would be an interior decorator.
  3. I love hockey but I don't get to see it very much where I live. This is difficult considering I grew up watching one of the original six teams. I am still a huge fan of this team. Any guesses on the city?
  4. I am addicted to TIVO.
  5. If I was 10 years younger, I would go to law school.
  6. I frequently (and usually secretly) disagree with a lot of HR bloggers regarding the advice they give.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bumped

Apparently my ratings have slipped. Alltop needs a new section, perhaps called, "Allbottom" for those of us who used to be listed who now have been banished. Instead of a button that says, "Confirmation that I kick ass" how about, "Confirmation that I USED to kick ass?"

All in jest.

Tagged!

I was tagged by HR Minion to confess six random things about me. Well, let's see if I have anything interesting to share:
  1. I suffer from/enjoy road rage. In my mind, only bad drivers bring this out in me but those who have had the unfortunate luck of being a passenger of mine would probably disagree.
  2. I love my children (most of the time) but I am not a great admirer of children.
  3. Most of my friends are men.
  4. I believe public service should be mandatory.
  5. I am a first generation American.
  6. I don't vote.

This task came with a requirement to tag others but I am going to abstain. While I don't mind playing along, I don't want to piss anyone off. I manage to do that enough at work.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Things Are Looking Up

It hasn't been easy, but lately things are looking up. I recently had an opportunity to discuss an issue with a bitchy coworker. Of course she tried to control the conversation but I worked it all to my advantage.

The key to getting what you want AND getting people to do what you want goes something like this:

  • Make sure the other person comes to you. Don't request a meeting, say something is wrong, or look generally pathetic. My coworker did all of these things. I knew she would because I slowly tormented her until she broke. Don't you want to work with me?
  • NEVER get emotional. Don't get defensive, cry, or raise your voice. Whether you are right or wrong, if you do any of those things, you will LOSE. My coworker tried this. She started off the conversation by being nice, yet controlling. When confronted, she turned bitchy. What did I do? Nothing. This doesn't mean checking out of the conversation, it means not changing my demeanor. In essence, I acted like she didn't turn bitchy. That confused her enough for her to notice how ridiculous she was acting. Then, right when she got embarrassed, I moved in for the kill and threw a few truths her way .....again, calmly. Essentially, calmly and professionally, I made an ass out of her in such a way that she couldn't argue with.
  • Speed. Don't try to be JFK and win a speed talking contest in these situations. I am naturally a fast speaker but to get the upper hand in these situations, you have to talk slowly. Not Bill Clinton slowly but keep your speaking deliberate. It forces others to slow down their speaking and allows you to control everything from there. If you doubt this, have you ever heard someone yelling slowly? It doesn't happen.
  • Don't agree to compromise. Compromise seems like a good thing but it is really a way of giving someone what they want that you really don't mind them having. That isn't the same as getting something you want. It puts all of the control in their hands. It only gets worse after you agree to a compromise.
  • When having a meeting or discussion about issues, appear indifferent. While I don't get emotionally attached to my coworkers and don't expect to even like them, I make a point of telling my coworkers these viewpoints. This ensures a step ahead for me because they do care. I realize this may make me appear cold but I'm not. I am simply choosy about those I consider friends. Think about it, if someone was really a friend, you wouldn't need to have a discussion like this with them. Why? Real friends give you the benefit of the doubt and realize you have their best interests at heart. So, if you have to ask and require assurances, you aren't a friend of mine.
  • Tell the truth. This coworker I met with actually said this. "We don't have to be friends if you don't want to." My interpretation of this sentence was, "Your pathetic ass is mine." Ok, so now I sound downright nasty but do keep in mind this is the same coworker who did something completely petty and unprofessional to me and is only sorry she got caught. Key here, sorry she got caught, not sorry she did it. In my world, this type of behavior is an open invitation to my most vengeful behavior.

Side note...

  • Vengeful behavior must be handled carefully. Don't make it obvious. For me, vengeful behavior must be handled passively. It's not my personality to be passive in any way but at work, you have to be. Anything else makes it obvious and you will destroy your career. This isn't too difficult for me because I am surrounded by idiots. All I have to do is let their mistakes hang out. A few innocent questions to my boss, such as, "Do you know if Dummy #1 has handled that issue?" when I know they didn't works wonders. The boss now realizes and I jump in to save the day. I ending up saving the day under the guise of helping a coworker (and my boss) and dummy #1 looks like an idiot. How can anyone get mad at me? Usually I notice these things and take care of it out of genuine teamwork but when crossed, the same behavior works to my advantage. It's difficult for anyone to argue with behavior that isn't out of the ordinary for me. Perfect!

Back to the meeting...

  • The proof of my upper hand was affirmed throughout the meeting. My coworker started this meeting with and repeatedly said, "You're the ultimate professional." She is talking about my knowledge, my professionalism, and my work product. What she doesn't realize is how manipulated she ended up. Everything happened exactly as I planned. By now you are thinking, "psycho" but keep in mind, she started this by questioning my professionalism in some vain attempt to flatter her faltering ego. She only has herself to blame for the outcome. I used to treat her as an equal and tried to share a few of my tips to getting what you need through subtle wordplay (manipulation). Now, I won't save her ass (done many times), I won't let little things that she does (done many times) and I won't share any of my expertise (done many times). I will become a silo of information that only provides it to her when she asks (begs) for it.

The outcome of this meeting has been great for me. She is extraordinarily considerate and is honeymooning me with her kindness. Keep it up! My behavior changes? Nada!

The best part of this and a true measure of my success is that she doesn't realize she lost. It's irrelevant to me and actually works to my advantage.

If you have ever gotten something without having to ask for it or give anything up in exchange, you won. If the other person doesn't figure that out, you are at the top of your game.

Now you can see why ER is my specialty.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Be Careful

Writing comments on post-its about your coworkers may seem like a good idea.

Until they see them.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Here's a New One

I was at work the other day when a coworker started venting to me about another coworker. I was listening, thinking of constructive things to say, inserting supporting phases, helping to strategize, etc. when the unthinkable happened.

When referring to the problem at hand and the person causing said problem, my coworker said, "And then it's going to be 'game on bitch".

Whoa!

As an eager viewer of Big Brother, I have heard this phrase before. I actually consider the workplace to be versions of Big Brother and, on some days, Survivor. That being said, I haven't actually heard someone say this at work. My reaction? Laughter.

This particular situation has been ongoing for years but has finally gone too far. The object of "Game on, Bitch" needs to be dealt with.

After the laughter subsided, I helped my coworker strategize a bit for a couple of meetings to deal with the situation. It's all so ridiculous but the unprofessional behavior of some inevitably leads to a decision.

Kill or be killed? Of course it's not that extreme but it is a do or die situation nevertheless.

In the end, we discussed impacts on productivity, inefficiency, and role clarification.

See, game on, bitch can be productive.

Friday, August 08, 2008

One-sided?

Cccritique created a blog criticizing the HR field. While I am shocked by the lack of love for HR (not), I am a bit surprised to discover a blogger who filters readers.

You see, for me to spend a considerable amount of time responding (thoughtfully, too) and see my comments deleted is a bit annoying. If that was the point, mission accomplished. My inclination is in another direction though.

I think I was making sense and that didn't support said blogger's cause. Isn't the exchange of information the point of blogging? If a blogger really wants to read his or her own thoughts, why bother having readers?

A Second Look

Totally Consumed has a post on rejected candidates. It's rare to have a rejected candidate "put themselves" out there by asking for feedback. In fact, it's so rare that I remember these people.

When candidates are hired, HR is done with them (from an applicant standpoint). Of course, this is a very great thing because the process was a raving success and we can move on to the next recruitment. Unless we work closely with them as an employee, we are done knowing about their skills.

This is where rejected candidates come into play. They have to work harder for it. They are working to find out why they weren't a fit, whether we might have something else for them, etc. I get to know these people in a way. Because their continued interest is so unusual, I remember them.

There have been a few of these candidates who have gone on to be hired. Some I have actually recommended. Not for hire of course but for consideration.

Is it a big surprise that these eventual employees are often the best employees we have?

In fact, I was once one of these rejected candidates. Let that be a lesson...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Time for Clarification

I saw the article below on Careerbuilder. I took a couple of minutes to count my signs and realized I am in bad shape.

The timing of this article was interesting. In fact, a few days ago I saw this article on I Hate Your Job. It made me realize I may be giving the wrong impression on my blog. In fact the quote below, "I like what I do, I just don't like where I work" says it all for me. Have a done a good job of leaving that impression? I am beginning to wonder.

Unlike those described in the article on I Hate Your Job, I know I am a solid performer. As HR professionals, we have all seen employees who believe they are the cream of the crop who in reality are the worst employees. This isn't me. In fact, I often get annoyed at myself for caring and working as hard as I do.

So, if you believe I hate doing my job, I haven't described it well enough. If you realize I am surrounded by incompetent idiots who make me wonder why I bother, I have done something right.

I keep going because I have a couple of the best coworkers anyone could ask for. What they have in common with me is a commitment to professionalism, the ability to solicit, accept, and provide (sometimes when I don't want it!) constructive feedback, and a fantastic sense of humor. They are largely responsible for my sanity and have a way of knowing when I need a pep talk.

Finally, I am waiting for the right opportunity before making a move. If I leave at the wrong time, it wouldn't be in the best interest of my career or family. Smack my egotistical head if you feel the need, but I have a solid resume so I don't need to run into another mess.

Without further ado, here is the article that has verified my need for a new job:

10 Signs It's Time to Quit

"I like what I do. I just don't like where I work." Sound familiar?

From unbearable co-workers to depressing work environments, there things that can make even the best job a living hell. Here are some signs it's time to look for a new job.

Sign No. 1: Your co-workers are annoying.

Obnoxious people can invade your work life. Let's face it, not everyone gets along perfectly. But you need to have some sort of harmonious relationship with fellow employees to get the job done. How are you supposed to get any work done when these guys keep getting in the way? They are distracting and impede productivity. Most offices have a Gossip, that one person who has the "scoop" all the time and is not afraid to share it. Misery loves company, and finds it often in the Whiner, who isn't afraid to complain and bellyache. And everyone has the Neighbor whose noisy distractions include his cellular ringtone, speakerphone and radio.

Sign No. 2: The environment is toxic.

Everyone experiences job highs and lows, but discontent could also be a sign of a chronically depressing work environment or even a company in peril. A bad work environment is reflective of the culture of an entire business. Do you work in a less-than-nurturing atmosphere? Is morale constantly low? Have you been complaining for two solid years? It could be an organizational problem that applying feng shui to your cube just won't fix.

Sign No. 3: You're mentally exhausted by the end of the day.

Stress can cause low morale, decreased productivity and apathy towards work. Plus, it can spill into your personal life and even have a negative effect on your health. Today there are fewer people who are taking on more and more work. American workers experience burnout at an alarming rate. According to CareerBuilder, 68 percent of workers feel burnout at work, and 45 percent said their workloads are too heavy. Yes, we all have to pick up some slack and "take one for the team" from time to time. But if there's no end in sight, do yourself and your health a favor and dust off your résumé.

Sign No. 4: Your boss is a nightmare.

Even though this person is your boss, it doesn't give him license to do anything he wants. If you have a lousy boss, even the best job in the world can make life a living hell. Your relationship with your supervisor plays a big role in your overall professional happiness and success. Fighting to have your boss removed or waiting for your boss to change or get fired are rarely successful tactics. If you are working for someone who is always absent, unavailable, self-absorbed or untrustworthy, it's time to look for a better supervisor and a better opportunity.

Sign No. 5: You're watching the clock... every 10 minutes.

Though you might not like to work, it's even worse when you are bored while you're there. One can only watch so many videos on YouTube or bid on unneeded things on eBay. If you aren't feeling challenged, that's a sign that you need additional responsibilities or a change roles. And be warned, if you don't have any responsibility or find yourself with nothing to do, management might be trying to phase you out and you might be in danger of losing your job.

Sign No. 6: You get no respect.

Does any of this sound familiar? Your ideas aren't taken seriously; there are no opportunities for advancement; the boss ignores you; co-workers alienate you; you're discouraged from improving skills with a course or seminar; you're passed over for a promotion -- again; or you're excluded from key projects and strategizing sessions. So why are you still giving this organization your time, energy and great ideas?

Sign No. 7: Your co-workers act like animals.

They live for themselves and only themselves. They irritate you. They offend you. They have no manners or ethics. And you work with them all. There's the Office Thief who steals your ideas. The Shirker arrives late, leaves early and disappears whenever work is near. The Buck-passer unloads her work onto everyone else and blames others for her mistakes. The Procrastinator delays things until the last possible minute, slowing you down by not having the information you need to meet your deadlines. The Interrupter stops by your cubicle 10 times a day to chat about her latest boyfriend despite your ringing telephone and pressing deadlines. And don't forget the infamous Elevator Person who rides up only one floor instead of taking the stairs.

Sign No. 8: Nobody communicates.

Although we live in a world of e-mail, cell phones, instant messages, Blackberries, WiFi and, yes, even face-to-face conversation, there can still be a complete lack of communication. Whether it's a co-worker who's not returning your voice mail or the CEO not conveying a company's goals and accomplishments, the breakdown of communication can be frustrating and detrimental to your job. It can cost you an account, make you to miss a deadline, cause you to lose a client, and even get you fired.

Sign No. 9: You're not valued.

Forty-three percent of workers do not feel appreciated, and one-fourth of workers feel that they are just a "number" within their organization. You need to realize that you deserve credit for your successes. Recognition is important, and good companies implement programs to let employees know they are valued. Is your company doing anything to reward your efforts? Do you ever receive bonuses, perks or positive feedback? If your boss has never heard of positive reinforcement verbal or otherwise, find a company that will value your talents.

Sign No. 10: You feel stifled.

What kind of quality of life do you have? Is your 40-hour week turning into a 24/7 grind? While salary may seem like the end all and be all, your quality of life determines your overall happiness. How much time you spend on the job, working conditions, supervisors and subordinates can positively and negatively impact your job outlook. If you dread the time you spent at work, it should be a clear indicator that it's time to break free. A job shouldn't stifle you creatively, mentally or physically.

Bottom line: Considering what you don't like about your current situation should give you insight into what you are seeking in future endeavors. If you know what your priorities and preferences are and actively seek them, work can be an enjoyable experience. If, however, you've answered yes to more than four of these signs, then you might want to get started on a new job search.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

These Kids Today...

Some call them Generation Y, I call them pompous, entitlement mongers who expect to jump over everyone else in their rise to the top.

Don't get me wrong. If you work hard and leapfrog over dead weight, more power to you. The problem I have is how these brats begin their careers with not only that expectation, but an attitude to match.

These folks are making a steady showing in the workplace but their presence also creates a new generation of problems. Recruitment and retention has to be more creative not only for the continuing labor shortage but to accommodate this new breed of babies.

Here are their main concerns:
  • How big is my office, does it have a window?
  • When and how large will my first raise be?
  • How long have you been in your job? (Trust me, you don't want my job and if stealing it is on your mind, I will hand it over faster than my car keys to a carjacker)
  • Which fruit bowl should I bring to meeting? Seriously, if anyone reading this regularly eats food in a meeting, STOP. Unless it is a working lunch, it's nasty watching someone eat, especially if they talk while eating.

How to spot one of these Gen Y folks:

  • They look young enough to still be riding a school bus.
  • They work their lives around their interests, not work or family. When I was pregnant, one of these types was hired. When she started, she asked me when I was starting my maternity leave. Apparently my large midsection didn't mesh with her idea of an ideal work environment. I now realize how seniors feel about people asking them when they are going to move into a senior community.
  • They act like they know everything and love to brag about all the opportunities they have gotten. My response? "Those are great opportunities when you are getting started. A perfect way to get your feet wet." Aren't I a bitch? They ask for it.
  • They are annoying little bundles of energy who bounce down halls proclaiming "Good Morning" at 7:00 a.m.
  • They love talking about how they go to the gym in the middle of the night before work.
  • They think they are going to rise to the top. While I admire their optimism, they have a lot to learn. Nothing replaces good old experience and they are lacking it. They remind me of those professors I had in college who really were professional students. I learned fairly quickly to take night classes so I could learn something from those with the ability to teach and do the job.
  • They act like they have a big secret. Of course this big secret is they believe everyone is in awe of them and without their presence, this place would be a sinking ship. While their spunk may energize an office and they are told they are doing "GREAT' in their careers, they have a long way to go. When the going gets tough, they are not at the top of the go-to list. Of course they don't see this because they are too busy eating a bowl of fruit.

I love sitting in team meetings with these fireballs. When a complex topic is raised and they are out of their league, I 'd love to put one of these children on the spot. Could I say, "Once Marcia stops eating, she can enlighten all of us."

Once in a while, one of them will "contribute to the conversation." It starts with a condescending giggle or eye roll that insinuates how easy the solution is. I love watching them spew out a oversimplified "fix" to a complex problem.

While I don't speak with the sole purpose of humiliating them, it's not difficult to have something worthwhile to contribute. After all, I am an experienced HR professional, right? A big factor in these scenarios is whether they tried to humiliate someone else to make themselves look better. It's a two for one. Teach them a lesson, solve the problem.

So, at those times, I throw out a few options (those of us in the experienced column realize there is seldom one option) and back it up with reasonable explanations.

Then I sit back, return the fruit-glazed glare from across the table, and feel a sense of accomplishment for the day.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's Not a Related Duty.....

Moochers. Don't you hate them? There are a couple of my coworkers with quite an annoying trait.

I already discussed my disdain for potlucks, but this is another issue entirely. Do you ever go out to lunch? Ask coworkers if they would like to join you? Do these coworkers then ask where you are going and ask you to bring something back?

Unfortunately, I have a couple of these mooching divas as coworkers.

I realize one logical conclusion could be that these coworkers simply don't want to go to lunch with me but they do this to everyone. Before you jump to conclusions and blame me for asking them, consider this.....

One of them used to go frequently so it seems reasonable she might go. The other one incessantly complains that she is never included so we ask her.

I don't mind picking something up once in a while but I am not your lunch cart. What tops this off is the twisted face I get when I say I am going somewhere they don't like. That takes some balls. So sorry to inconvenience you with my shitty lunch choice.

I don't ask anymore but while I am on the subject of annoying coworker behaviors, here is a list:

  • Personal friends at work who chat in offices/cubes for hours on end while others need them for a business reason. Taking this a step further, these people complain about how unfair it is for others to consider their personal friendship at work. Stop advertising it and maybe people will stop throwing it in your face.
  • Snappy, grumpy women who cannot be approached for fear of pissing them off. I approach anyway because I welcome the opportunity to get snapped at (actually because I am too busy to wait for the mood elevators to kick in).
  • Children. There is a never ending power struggle in my office between those with kids versus those who don't. Some with children use their children as excuses for particular schedules and those without don't want to have their lives impacted for someone else's kids. On the surface, it makes perfect sense but it's never that simple. Everyone has other responsibilities, however children are an easy target. At the same time, children should change your life, not your coworkers.

  • Cell phones. Don't leave your cell phone at your desk, with the ringer louder than a fire engine. You may want to consider the music you have as a ringer, too. No one wants to hear the Rocky theme or "Baby Got Back" at top volume at work. Inappropriate or just plain stupid, both annoy your coworkers.

  • People who don't take turns driving to seminars, lunches, etc. These people are first ones to ask who is driving or who can they go with, yet never offer to return the favor.

This is my quick list. Got any others?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Another Lesson

I recently taught one of my coworkers not to underestimate me. Of course, in the frustrating, anonymous spirit of my blog, I can't provide all the gory details but I will try to capture the gist of it.

This particular woman is a southern spoiled brat who tries to order everyone around. I apologize to any southern belles who may read my blog but she is Scarlett O'Hara minus the charm and good looks.

Despite her attempts to appear confident, she is the most insecure person you'd ever meet. She loves to make conversation simply to dig for information and fails miserably at appearing to be subtle. I used to be guarded and keep the conversation very general but now I amuse myself with her.

For example, when she asks me if I heard about a big project on the horizon and lays it on thick about how I will probably be chosen to lead it because I am loved and adored by upper management, I egg her on. Her over the top compliments are really jealousy and a miserable attempt to flatter me into submission but she thinks it works.

She has been trying to be covert about keeping me out of a great opportunity. I made a preemptive strike with our HR Manager and got his blessing to get what I needed. Needless to say, she doesn't know how I figured out her plan AND took it a step further by getting his buy-in to include me. The look on her face was priceless.

On a side note, I will be applying for a job she tried to banter with me about a few weeks ago. I denied I was interested but now I think I will throw my hat in the ring. If I actually got it, she would have a nervous breakdown.

Monday, June 30, 2008

It's a Sick World After All

Here are a few of the keywords that bring people to my blog. My thoughts follow:

pink lube (does the color matter?)

psychotic women (you came to the right place)

team building bullshit (yes it is)

preferential treatment to male employees (what's new?)

slip punishment (huh?)

my supervisor backstabs the boss (this surprises who?)

how to react to a pink slip (is there a step by step process out there?)

grow a pair of balls (no thanks)

my coworkers hate me, i havent done anything to anyone (yes you have and everyone in HR knows why)

seashell shaped placemats (not suitable for any home)

boss banging his secretary from behind (Picturing management in my company.....ewwww)

don't work solely on being liked; decide to be respected (wise move)

brothel (lol)

deliberately trying to get co-workers in trouble (the American way)

i am at a loss about my career growth (me too)

sexual harassment goaded (aren't they all)

as i learn to trust the universe, i no longer need to carry a gun (mental hospitals allow Internet access?)

my boss doesn't trust me to do my job (shocking)

cruel & unusual idiots (a blog for most of my coworkers)

sexual pink slip (I don't see a correlation but ok)

a good scapegoat is nearly as welcome as a solution to the problem.(Upper management mantra)

employee rules for blogging (don't get caught)

manager nepotism (oxymoron)

as i let go of my feelings of guilt, i am in touch with my inner sociopath. (another mental patient)

is it legal for a boss to discuss my potential firing with my co-worker (Legal and sadly expected)

is it bad karma to operate vending machines (Mental patient III)

what does seashells represent? (torture for me)

i honor my personality flaws, for without them, i would have no personality at all. (Teenager with angst)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Check it Out


My name is in lights on Totally Consumed's blog.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Heaven or Hell

One day while walking down the street a highly successful Human Resources Manager was tragically hit by a bus and she died. Her soul arrived up in heaven where she was met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter himself.

"Welcome to Heaven," said St. Peter. "Before you get settled in though, it seems we have a problem. You see, strangely enough, we've never once had a Human Resources Manager make it this far and we're not really sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in," said the woman."Well, I'd like to, but I have higher orders. What we're going to do is let you have a day in Hell and a day in Heaven and then you can choose whichever one you want to spend an eternity in." "Actually, I think I've made up my mind, I prefer to stay in Heaven," said the woman.

"Sorry, we have rules..."

And with that St. Peter put the executive in an elevator and it went down-down-down to Hell. The doors opened and she found herself stepping out onto the putting green of a beautiful golf course. In the distance was a country club and standing in front of her were all her friends - fellow executives that she had worked with and they were well dressed in evening gowns and cheering for her. They ran up and kissed her on both cheeks and they talked about old times. They played an excellent round of golf and at night went to the country club where she enjoyed an excellent steak and lobster dinner.

She met the Devil who was actually a really nice guy (kind of cute) and she had a great time telling jokes and dancing. She was having such a good time that before she knew it, it was time to leave. Everybody shook her hand and waved good-bye as she got on the elevator.The elevator went up-up-up and opened back up at the Pearly Gates and she found St. Peter waiting for her."Now it's time to spend a day in Heaven," he said.

So she spent the next 24 hours lounging around on clouds and playing the harp and singing. She had a great time and before she knew it her 24 hours were up and St. Peter came to see her."So, you've spent a day in Hell and you've spent a day in Heaven. Now you must choose your eternity."

The woman paused for a second and then replied, "Well, I never thought I'd say this, I mean, Heaven has been really great and all, but I think I had a better time in Hell."

So St. Peter escorted her to the elevator and again she went down-down-down back to Hell.When the doors of the elevator opened she found herself standing in a desolate wasteland covered in garbage and filth. She saw her friends were dressed in rags and were picking up the garbage and putting it in sacks.

The Devil came up to her and put his arm around her."I don't understand," stammered the woman, "yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a country club and we ate lobster and we danced and had a great time. Now all there is a wasteland of garbage and all my friends look miserable."

The Devil looked at her, smiled and said - "Yesterday we were recruiting you -- today you're an employee."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

You Know You Work in HR When...

You have your HR hat on, even when watching TV.

I was watching Criminal Minds last night. Every time I see Morgan and Garcia flirting, making inappropriate comments, etc., all I can think about is sexual harassment.

It gets worse. There are times when Hotch (the boss) can hear/see it. What happened to his duty to act?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Working Hard or Hardly Working

I realize I am not the only person who has a few bad apples for coworkers. Considering all employees, if that was true, there wouldn't be a need for HR, right?

These days, the one at the top of my list is a completely incompetent, manipulative twit who barely manages to function on a daily basis.

In my experience, incompetent deadbeats who happen to have "HR" in their title are assumed to be highly functioning professionals. Many employees outside of HR believe HR employees are untouchable. At my esteemed place of employment, this is true.

At least for the bad ones...

You can set the tone for minimal expectations and get away with it. Those of us who consistently perform at a high level and continue to take on more responsibility are idiots. If my performance started to dwindle, I have no doubt it would be discussed rather quickly. The term to describe this phenomenon is professional punishment.

Taking it a step further, these employees do more (or less) than fail to perform. They actually make significant mistakes, fail to meet deadlines, and depend so much on their coworkers (me) to do their job, that an expectation has now been set.

Before you start believing I am a sucker who can't say no, keep reading.

This started because my coworker was new. One of those new people who most of my other coworkers realized wasn't suited for this job. After a couple of years, she hasn't grown into her position. Here is a general breakdown of her ineptitude:

  • Recruiting: She struggles to manage her recruitments and often whines to our supervisor about her workload (which is minimal) until she gets help. She is not beyond crying to get her way.

  • Compensation: She frequently plagiarizes the work of others. While I am not a fan of reinventing the wheel, well .......... you get the point.

  • Employee Relations: She often makes a situation worse because she doesn't like ER. Doesn't like it? I didn't realize we were paid to only do the things we like but what do I know?

  • Committees: Unless you considering being a note taker extraordinaire a skill, she doesn't contribute.

  • Meetings with her customers: She cannot go alone. When I am asked to go, I used to help her, tried to let her lead the meeting, but not anymore. Really, I don't sabotage her but everyone's time is valuable and it is embarrassing to watch. When she freezes up (about 60 seconds into the meeting), I deal with the issues. She doesn't seem to care about appearing to be my note taking assistant when dealing with HER customers.

  • EEO/AA: "I don't like to get involved in things that could get me sued." Direct quote. Wrong job field don't you think?

  • Special Projects: What year would you like it completed in? Can you provide her with step by step instructions? Does it include the ability to perform any type of analysis? Do you mind waiting until Hell freezes over?

  • Communication: If she doesn't like an employee or manager, she either gets snippy with them or avoids them like the plague. If a problem arises (obviously it does), she cries. Cries about how mean or unreasonable they are. The result? A big meeting with our boss and management in the department the mean employee/manager works in. The result of these meetings? The official answer is process improvement and a commitment to improve communication (hug hug, kiss kiss). The reality? The department loses a little more respect for HR as a group. This happens in cycles, then things calm down for a while until the next problem.

At this point, the department calls me when they need something because I am not a whining, incompetent, passive-aggressive little girl who hides behind her supervisor.

I cannot stop helping other departments entirely because they are customers. They have needs and THAT is my job. My coworker makes all of us look bad. It is not easy to accept when I work very hard to be approachable, strategic, and work in partnership with my departments.

I have addressed this with my supervisor numerous times. She doesn't follow through. Our HR Manager (Mr. Shit4Brains) knows about this but chooses not to deal with it.

Employees have been telling me for years that accountability decreases as you move up the corporate ladder. For some people (like the HR management team at my company), this is true.

Anyone else care to share their HR coworker horror stories?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Secrets

The latest topic in a few HR blogs is whether to blog anonymously or with your name right out there. Of course I am anonymous because the content of my blog would get me fired or at least destroy any hope I have of ruling the HR world.

Anyway, here are a few things I do in my efforts to stay under the radar:

  • I wear a pair of pantyhose over my head when I blog to avoid being recognized. Do you believe that? I worry about you if you do. You might be as stupid as some of my coworkers if you were buying it.


  • I don't use my name. Believe it or not, people don't really call me Ms. Pink Slip. I may be called names other than my own but I can't speculate.


  • I don't mention my location. For all anyone knows, I could be blogging from a bunker in Montana. I actually use AOL when reading other blogs because AOL's browser shows AOL's server location, not mine. I realize this may be a little paranoid but I didn't bust my ass in graduate school to screw it up online. I laugh at such employees while handling their dismissals.


  • I change little details in my stories. The seashells weren't really seashells but the rest is fairly accurate. The general idea is accurate and that is what matters. I have asked a couple of my coworkers who read my blog if I captured the essence of the moment and they agreed.


  • I don't discuss my personal life. No one cares and I don't feel comfortable blogging about my friends and family. They also have enough stories to be the source of another ranting blog but I have to draw the line somewhere.


  • No one would believe I would blog about my job. While I am not a certifiable Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I definitely have a work persona. At work, I am patient, professional, and competent. While people with those traits can and do blog, it's the lunatics who make it obvious who get in hot water. Nude photos, stories about the CEO, etc. I don't go that far. Well, unless someone wants a nude photo. A photo of me with the CEO? Nude? Anyone? I didn't think so.


  • I approve comments before they are published. My worst nightmare would be to log on and see, "Hey (insert my name), wait until the CEO at (insert company) sees this. " I realize the chances of this are equal to me getting struck by lightning but I have that kind of luck.
    • So, if I get struck by lightning and someone meaningful (i.e., possesses the ability to fire me or generally make my life a living hell) realizes this blog is mine, what will I do?

      Nothing.

      As any solid HR professional knows, without proof you can't do anything. Come to think of it, even with proof employees don't get fired. Blackmail? That's where the nude photos come in.