After reading through your comments and looking at the poll results thus far, it appears that people have very mixed views about Human Resources. Some people hold HR in very high regard. Others, however, think HR is full of pompous, exploitative, manipulative killjoys. Maybe HR is the office equivalent of lemon-flavored candies. Some people love them. Some people hate them.
Oh, wait. Bad example. Everybody hates lemon candies. When you buy a big bag of 100 Jolly Ranchers, for example, the last remaining 16 pieces are always lemon. Or when you buy a new tropical mix of Mike & Ikes or Gummy Life Savers and pull out a yellow candy, the first thought that goes through your head is, "Oh please, please, please be pineapple, not lemon..." Knowing that it might be a sour lemon flavor you then slowly, cautiously touch it to the tip of your tongue as if it were a 9-volt batter that may or may not be dead. And when the taste is lemon, you recoil your tongue in the exact same manner as when the 9-volt battery gives you an electric jolt. I challenge anybody to name an assorted mix of fruit flavored candies in which lemon is not the hands-down worse flavor of the bunch.
The whole lemon candy industry is in such financial trouble right now that Congress has pledged $49 billion in bailout money to support it during this time of trial. There is no time to think this thing through! The lemon candy industry is just too big to fail! Its downfall would be a catastrophic crisis that would be a bazillion times worse than the Great Depression, the potato famine, the plague, and the Bratz Dollz fad combined! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Don't read the bill, guys, just sign it! Sign! Sign! Now! Now!
Just wait until the public finds out about Mr. Lemon Head's $6.3 million retention bonus. Oh boy, the citrus is going to hit the fan!
Wait, this is supposed to be about HR. Why am I talking about lemon candy?
Anyway, back to the point. Whether you love HR or hate it, your reasons are most likely justified. In fact, there are two HR-related items that I recently came across that sum up the polar extremes of the HR world. One of them came from the 3/9/2009 This American Life podcast called "Human Resources." Ironically, I just subscribed to this podcast yesterday and listened to it on my way home from work today. Below is the word-for-word transcript of how the podcast about HR starts:
Narrator: "So how many years were you an executioner in your job?"
Unnamed Guest: "That period lasted for, oh, maybe five or six years."
Narrator: "That's a really long time."
Unnamed Guest: "Oh, a very long time. It was, I mean, very, very depressing."
Narrator: "Chris is a mild-mannered decent guy who was an executioner in the sense that he fired over 1,500 people...."
If you haven't guessed, Chris, the executioner, is an HR guy. With that as the backdrop, let's name the list of the most infamous executioners in recent memory:
-Charles Henri-Sanson - Sent 300 people to the guillotine in 3 days, including Marie Antionette
-Sayid from Lost
-Old Sparky - 361 Texans "rode the lightning" between 1924 and 1946.
-Texas A&M - They kill BYU every year in the first round. (Dang it!)
-Chris, the mild-mannered decent HR guy!
Gee, thanks, NPR. Where do we nominate you for a 2009 SHRM award for improving public perception of our profession? (Actually, the executioner bit hits very close to home. In 2006 we were laying off a lot of people in my plant. The Plant Manager and I earned the combined nickname of the "execution squad." I wore a long, black robe with a hood to work every day and carried a scythe with me everywhere I went, so I may have contributed to that perception a little.) You can read about my most recent layoff experience here, if you wish.
On the flip side, check out President Thomas S. Monson's First Presidency Message for March 2009. I know that today is only the 19th of the month so most of you will hurry and read Pres. Monson's article nine days from now as you drive to your Home Teaching appointment, so pay close attention to this part when you do:
"We live in troubled times...Human resource administrators in government and industry work long hours in an effort to assist people with their problems."
"One human resource officer assigned to handle petty grievances concluded an unusually hectic day by placing facetiously a little sign on his desk for those with unsolved problems. It read, 'Have you tried prayer?'"
For those of you who dislike HR I hate to play the In-Your-Face-Becaue-I'm-Taking-The-Prophet's-Words-Out-Of-Context-To-Prove-My-Point card, but, hey, the prophet has spoken! When the prophet gives props to HR, you know you are doing something right.
When it all comes down to it, HR people are really no different than any other group of employees who go to work every day and try to do their best. Or not. Depends on the person. As with most large groups of people, there will be varying opinions on how much you like HR people or dislike them.
I'm just glad that we can all agree that people who like lemon candies are weird. Nothing like a common enemy to bring us all together!
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