the very humane, HR

It’s very important not to shortchange people and respect them for what they do.

This sentence was haunting me since quite sometime. Things happened that made me address issues that are very important to me. Values, Ethics and how we do business being so important, at least to me than the business of making money.

It’s been three years now since I started my company The ALPS. Work has been good. There have been some interesting instances down the way that has made me ponder over the relevance of values and ethics at work. Many successful people may remark that, that’s a loser talking. Or they may also say I need to get to the real world. Never mind all that. I don’t.

Many a time, companies send queries regarding training workshops. These are from really big corporates in the Automobile industry, in the Construction industry, the IT industry and interestingly, even the Education industry, if it can be called that 🙂

Encouraged, we send them a proposal. After a few rounds of asking us to tweak the proposal on matter of the modules, information about how we will conduct and several meetings, we don’t get the project. Later with the help of inside information, we learn that the in-house HR Team conducts this program totally based on our inputs and discussions! This has become a practice across companies that have an in-house training department or a HR Team capable of conducting training!

Some companies ask for the demo program and then we understand that using various small companies like us makes most of their training requirements free!

For companies like us, we feel we are being used. But we have no alternative, do we? I end up concluding that it was a learning experience!

It throws up the cheap methods companies use with no conscience. That brings to my attention about accountability. HR Teams – are they accountable to anybody or are they a boss unto themselves?

I still vividly remember my tenure in a multinational bank as a consultant. Being an outsider within, so to say, I was privy to many occasions where my colleagues would be bitching about a HR Executive and the next day, if she walked in, they would all be drooling over her, being oh, so very polite and nice. I would ask, why were you all so at her feet? Who was that? Then, pat comes the answer, She’s from HR, What do you mean by Who is she???

 Why do employees fear the HR guys? That’s because the HR people always end up misusing their so-called power of all the employees’ future is in our hands! They enjoy playing God.

I recollect a funny incident where my colleague and I ended up with severe fever and cold due to ego-issues of the HR and the Admin of a multi national bank where we went to train them on a weekend.

Apparently, the HR did not inform and seek permission from the Admin that they were using the premises on the weekend. When we arrived, the building was totally dark with minimum lighting and most importantly no air conditioning. Then ensued a fierce argument between the hosts of the program, the HR Team and the Admin executives.

Finally, the loud order of I AM HR. I AM TELLING YOU NOW. SWITCH ON THE A/Cs worked. But to what effect? The admin fellas switched on the a/cs, all right, but it was set to freezing temperatures! Any number of requests to the hosts to turn up the temperature from us did not work because the HR Exec kept on denying that it was cold. Since admitting it would mean, he would have to go ask them or make them have the last laugh.

You think it ended that day? I am sure the HR Team would have had their just revenge another day. But then, poor us ended up shivering, fingers numb with cold and developed high fever as we reached home!

Maybe I am prejudiced but I can never forget the car that side swiped my car the other day, and as he sped across and I saw his car registration, I remarked to my colleague riding with me, Oh, its an HR Registration! No wonder!!

11 Comments on “the very humane, HR

  1. I could now, may be confidently say that my feelings towards the HR, especially in the multinationals, are not prejudiced. The HR lady at the office I previously worked for, thought that she was the queen there! She had the power to make me feel less worthy, even when I was being appreciated well by the rest of the team. I still remember her demeaning words, even now, a decade after!!

  2. i don’t think all of HR are egoistic or throw their weight around. It varies from person to person. I know of many people in HR who are genuine. But it was hilarious reading the above account. ego makes one very petty and silly.

  3. HR in some Admin in some Marketing in some. every organisation has a department which is considerably more important than others. as our superhero, spidey was advised by his uncle, with great power comes great responsibility.

  4. i have also experienced HR Head is very arrogant. he believes that everyone has to pay their respects to him everyday. very inconsiderate. he was once very rude to the VP (Operations) in the canteen, he didn’t know who he was. within weeks he was sacked. retribution will come in various forms. yet there are many in HR who actually start out well but then playing God becomes very easy.

  5. i work in a public sector organisation. here i find the HR is actually very helpful. perhaps attitudes and culture is very different in the private sector. what you have written above is really appalling. what do people like these achieve in life..esp the getting proposals and then doing it in-house…there’s no short cut to success…sooner or later reality will catch up. you can fool some people all the time, all the people some time but not all people all the time.

  6. Saw this article only today, Surya. My long stint in different organisations – almost 4 decades – tells me that arrogance and stupidity is not restricted to any particular function :). I also feel from experience that poetic justice in the form of retribution happens much more often than we’d care to acknowledge. This includes the organisation where you and I worked together …

  7. Thank you all for the comments. Yes, I agree that this behaviour cannot be attributed only to the HR Deptt. But, my point is this is one deptt that has to be above personal limitations and take care of the personnel in a personal way keeping it impersonal!

    Yes, I agree that people and their personal idiosyncrasies determine the way they behave. The leader at the top sets the trend or the atmosphere in the company. The work culture of an organisation is in sync with the signals the leader sends down among the ranks. And, the kind of organisation, private or public, IT or Banking or Manufacturing and the kinds of targets they have also influences the atmoshere of an organisation. In all, yes, ego, arrogance and negative behaviour is attributed to a person and the work culture encourages or discourages such behaviour.

    We at The ALPS have a beautiful program called Employee Engagement- Towards Dynamic relationships which cleverly draws all the participants towards one another and brings about affinity amongst them, and loyalty to the organisation. This is a lovely workshop towards harmonious relationships at work. Training in the right direction surely brings about enhanced productivity, efficiency and happiness.

    Thank you, each and everyone of you who read the article and commented too.

  8. Well written article. I enjoyed reading it. It made me recollect incidents during my tenure. I am now 83 years old, having retired from public sector service in 1989. A Chartered Accountant, Lawyer and a Banker, I started from the ranks and went on to retire as Director(Finance) in Western Coalfields Ltd.

    From my experience, Surya, this kind of behaviour is seen across departments. There will be people in every department who think the entire organisation survives only because of him. He/She is the only indispensable person.

    There are good people and bad people in any organisation. But good people, unfortunately are few.

    In my time, it used to be called Personnel Department. They always used to be ‘how to trouble people, make things difficult for them by showing their power’. They were very keen to send across the message ‘do not mess with personnel deptt’.

    In most organisations then, it used to be the Accounts/Finance deptt who were branded as the ‘Mr. No’ deptt. I was an exception here and tried my best to change that image.

    To conclude, the success of an organisation depends on team work and team spirit among all deptts and employees and it is the responsibility of the Chairman to ensure that this atmosphere is created. He should not encourage divisive and cotorie politics but bring about an ethical work culture.

    Thank you for the opportunity for this octogenarian to recollect my good old days.

  9. I am an Associate Professor and Head of Dept of Electronics in a government aided Women’s college at Nagpur. I have been teaching and doing research and publishing since the last almost 30 years. And it has been my personal experience that ethical degradation is seen even in the academic field. When small fry like us send in research proposals or submit research papers, the members of the screening committee at UGC or DST themselves reject them and then after making a few modifications, will submit the same in their name.So, as Mr. Rajan Mani says, this behavior is not restricted to a particular dept. or field.

    I would like to add to Mr. Janardhan Rao, that today the HR and company policy is not team spirit but divide and rule. It is being felt that divide and rule increases competitiveness and brings about more productivity and profit, which is certainly not true.

    A healthy attitude and ego is required for getting ahead in life, but the ego is now clubbed to a reduced moral value system and that has brought about what Surya and myself have experienced with our proposals!!

  10. Exactly, Dr Sridevi..ethical degradation is rampant everywhere, and in the educational institutes its very bad. I have also experienced this several decades ago when I did the rounds of many academic institutes for registering my PhD proposal. I showed a senior prof my proposal and he said i’ll just be back and disappeared inside. after half an hour or so, his student came out and said, sir is busy, he cannot meet you. when asked about my document, he said he’ll keep it with him. these were days when we had no computers and everything would be a typed copy.

    We should look at Harvard where they have introduced a ‘pledge’ for the students ‘not to plagiarise’. there is even enough software to catch students to catch them if they plagiarised an essay, but what about the profs themselves?

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