Monday, November 5, 2007
People managing people who manage people.
The bane of the world, or, more accurately one of the world's many banes, or one of the world's most banal banes, is HR. I hesitate to say HR people because that term, "HR people" is an oxymoron.
They're not people because they have no soul. They're not people because they would rather speak in coded language, and have you do the same, than tell the truth. They're not people because they are essentially lazy and dishonest, rarely returning calls, rarely being there when they're needed and, most egregiously, rarely being honest at all.
Here's why I'm outraged. For whatever reason--I guess the avoidance of litigation--HR has assumed vast power in most agencies. There are Chief People Officers. HR people who are EVPs. HR people who seem to rule the roost. Once I decided to fire a lousy copywriter who happened to be of Indian (sub-continent) descent. HR tells me she's a minority. I respond, "There a billion and a half Indians in the world and 12 million Jews. How are they a minority and I'm not?"
Another time, I tried to fired my assistant. This took me six weeks though she was on probation when they gave her to me. "Why do you want to fire her?" I was asked by HR. "Because she's dumb," I replied. "You can't say she's dumb. You can say she fails to meet your needs. She doesn't anticipate. But you can't say she's dumb." "Listen, she writes "ciao" on emails and spells it "chow." Her learning curve is actually a negative slope. She's dumb." But no, candor is not allowed.
Finally, HR people, whether they're real or pixeled, don't return phone calls. They're too busy.
I worked for a very tall man once who said creatives should be evaluated thusly:
Do they come through?
Can they handle a tough client?
Can they command a room?
Can they win new business?
Can they win awards?
HR hates shit like that. They'd prefer a form that takes two hours to fill out and will tell you nothing about the person.
Posted by George Tannenbaum at 12:03 PM