Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Human Resources’

Only in America

Suddenly people are mad at Wall Street and the fat cats, although they have been gaining ground, hugely,  for three decades.

“Wall Street has used the bailout to enrich themselves. In 2010, it handed out $149 billion in bonuses and compensation, near an all time high. But it did not pass that largesse down. While bank profits have risen 136 percent since the financial crisis bank lending has fallen by 9 percent.”

https://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/10/07-1#.To_SSitants.facebook

Yes this is true– and I am blown way it has taken so long for people to get upset. It’s not new.

CEO compensation—even at failing companies—has been outsized for decades. My brother-in-law’s brother is one of these folks. Even when they leave they get millions. Why does this not seem to bother anyone? Even now it is not mentioned as a long standing symptom of corporate disconnect with the workers –workers who BY THE way who make possible every single thing a corporation does .

For example:  “By 2007 the median S&P 500 CEO earned in three hours what a minimum-wage worker pulled down in a year. And Great Recession or no, 2009 looks like more of the same. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1931748,00.html#ixzz1aDNo599r of course now it is  2011 and… they have excess profits but are not putting anyone to work,. No work no consumption, duh. No consumption no market for goods. Duh. We all sink—AND WE ARE SINKING FAST. (But the fat cats don’t feel it… yet.)

Life was no always thus: when I graduated form college in 1970 at age 21 with a useless English degree I was able to find work, buy a mobile home (with my minimum wage job at Maas Brothers Department Store) and stay afloat until I decided to join the Air Force… where I then became able to go to law school and get a MUCH better job. I had worked summer jobs since I was a teen. Work was always available. I always worked—just part of the time, in the last decade or so, I have worked for myself because I have the education to do so. I didn’t plan to get rich, but I did get to do what felt right to me. (It was fairly easy when I was married.)

Then in about 1990 a number of fateful things happened. I got divorced,  and took a job with a law firm to be able to survive financially: my mother died, and I made a decision to change some things about the person I had become. (Who was heavily armored and numb, which had become clear to me in my marriage: I knew I did not want to stay that way.)

I spent about a year working at that firm.I was miserable, working until 8:00 at night and returning home utterly exhausted, wanting ONLY to go to the hot tub (avoiding other humans) and go to bed so I could get up and do it all over again. I discovered that the practice of law in a billable hour setting was not a place I (or my values) fit.

I had no time to process the huge things that took place when I attended my mother’s death: even so work while sitting outside on the patio of my office in sunny California was unthinkable. (Take my word for this: the culture of law is strong –and strait.)

Also disgusting was my  r4aliztion hat the firm placed its interests (dollars) ahead of those of the client. Yes, this is what business does—but it is 100% unethical in law. Yes… I believed in the ethics of the profession. (I still do.) God it was awful. But I still loved knowing stuff, and law is all about that– so, that part was still good.

But I received an inheritance and I went off to do consulting (in the same arena as the law firm work, Workers’ Comp)   full time. I used the stuff I knew about Workers Comp to help companies –who were the only players in employment who didn’t not have anyone in their corner against the idiotic Workers Compensation system. (This is where I learned the ins and outs of HR.–about whichi have little good to say.)

This job was GREAT—except I had no “plan B”. When that consulting gig crashed  (thanks to a change in the laws governing Workers Comp) I found myself struggling with PTSD—I still don’t know exactly why. It was partly the shock of being unemployed, but there was a lot more going on.  All I do know is I had to heal myself –BY myself–because I could not make myself understood by anyone around me. This took a LONG time. I found out I am a writer and a lot of other things. I realized I had to follow my HEART.

Slowly I built a practice consistent with my values. (My “heart” values.) Alas, I did not charge enough. I truly  did not grasp the degree of inflation that was taking place when I was outside the marketplace. I charged what FELT right. (That heart again.) As I say—I did not get rich, but I was pretty happy with what I did accomplish. I had a happy heart.

OK—my point—and I do have one—when that practice feel apart due in 2008 to the economic upheaval, and my savings ran out,  I had to adapt. I ended up teaching at a “bricks and mortar” private  school–“higher education”–after a brief but amazingly awful stint as a caregiver. (It was underpaid and, for me, horribly stressful, but it sounded respectable—and  I did what I had to do as the ground shifted under me.) Then a bad job got REALLY ugly… one of these students from a group  the FOR PROFIT school catered (those with no education and less hope) saw fit to throw me into the hall. Yes, literally. I was accused of having started it (!) and fired. And paid a pittance. Can you say PTSD relapse?  (Also I now have a permanent neck injury.)

Now what do you suppose I am able to do? Get a job at a law firm and toil away 80 hours a week at a place full of left brained creepy people? No, even without the PTSD (and the values I gained during my healing which are all right brained.) I am to old and have been out of that loop for WAY too long.  I am overqualified for what most people do for a living, and under-qualified for everything but law, teaching and writing..and coaching.  And the competition for “jobs”  is brutal.

In June the part time job I still have—have had for 3 years—reduced my student load (they are in trouble for reasons related to the for profit model, and clearly their fault, not economic issues—they cater to the military, which is NOT laying off folks!) I have received no raise in three years, although the costs of everything has risen. Needless to say I have no UI benefits and–in my first attempt to avail myself of UI benefits  IN MY LIFE– the Unemployment Insurance people have done little but jerk me around. It is quite amazing how badly that system is r5un.

The school, with its 30% profit margin (I was told)  has alwaystreated us part timers—without whom they could not operate at said  profit—badly. I never had a  job description. I keep finding out I am expected to do more and more—none of which I was never told was part of this job. It seems I am supposed to make sure each students stays enrolled. (That is business development, NOT teaching.) I overheard this–no one told me. I admit it–this gets me REALLY cranky.

In  mitigation… well, I get to set my own hours. The job was/is portable. (I now have mote then two  students again.) There is no appreciation (what –am I crazy??) and communication has ALWAYS been non existent. (The few facts I have gleaned have come from telephonic faculty meetings, never from my bosses.) Welcome to corporate America… where profit is king and management does NOT UNDERSTAND that without workers THERE CAN BE NO PROFITS.

Last year, a good half employees surveyed said they were unhappy:” Forty-seven percent of employees surveyed say they feel very strong loyalty to their employers, down from 59 percent three years ago.” http://www.mediabistro.com/prnewser/metlife-study-finds-employees-are-stressed-and-uhappy_b18141

See also:

“Workers have grown steadily more unhappy for a variety of reasons:

– Fewer workers consider their jobs to be interesting.

– Incomes have not kept up with inflation.

– The soaring cost of health insurance has eaten into workers’ take-home pay.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/01/05/national/main6056611.shtml

Oddly, Americans seem oblivious to the fact that nowhere else is access to health care tied to employment: that this was an unintended consequence of measures taken to combat the REAL Great Depression, as it happens. In every other civilized country, it also bears noting, workers are guaranteed paid vacation.

We are used to the illusory security of a paycheck–and we have been oblivious that the goal of a corporation is to make the owners rich. We are fairly happy until that illusion is taken away, when we are laid off–to make those same owners slightly richer. Then it is a rude awakening. Instant vacation… and no money to enjoy it. Businesses lose customers, the economy gets worse, and there is a downward spiral. Everyone  blames someone else. The robber barons blame th4e unemployed. But this time…it is GLOBAL.

And now there are protests. Thirty years down the road from the beginning. I hope “OWS”stays collaborative. The fat cats ain’t gonna fix this! Welcome to the 21st century.

May the “Force” be With You…

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

When you get that long awaited job, there is hope and anticipation. You will be able to hold your head up. You will be able to pay your bills. You will be.. an indentured servant? It may well feel that way, all too soon.

Sir Richard Branson, a well known and successful business man thinks poorly of American attitudes toward our workforce, (and I agree with him!) “Sir Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur who has started about 300 companies, doesn’t think much of American policies regarding flextime and vacations. He calls the amount of holidays “horrendous…. Branson says that in the U.S, companies seem to believe that employees should work for them full-time or not at all. But many employees would love to have a job where they can job share, work part-time, or take 6 months of leave. Employees are too scared to ask, he says… American vacation policies stink, Branson says. Branson believes that employees need time to see their children, to reenergize.” (HR Daily Advisor, September 14, 2011)  What a concept. Life outside work. (No more 30 days paid leave in civilian life, you know.)

And these lovely managers use emotional force to get the obedience they think they deserve:  check this out: “What ‘job leveling’ means, in plain English, and how it’s applied to align employees’ actions and behaviors across the workforce”. I don’t know about you  but I feel this describes a bull dozer. ..leveling all in  its path.

A”s the U.S. economy improves, complaints about pay compression (employees drawing similar salaries despite big differences in their experience, skills, and seniority) will simmer out of control in many workplaces. “BLR®—Business & Legal Resources 9-12-11 More happy thoughts! Simmering resentment. I wonder why?

There are American companies that have the human friendly attitude Branson has, where both customers and employees are happy. Find one! So again… the trick is the fit.  You may miss the sense of mission you had in the military, but you can be happy—with the right fit.

For the Love of.. HR?

September 13, 2011 Leave a comment

A Facebook friend of mine points out that “HR”is a form of propaganda. Depressing huh? Still we have ti deal with them, dont we?

 

Read on an HR resource:

*** On a plane, a seatmate asked Lott what his job was. Lott said, “I help companies avoid lawsuits.” “Are you a lawyer?” asked the seatmate. “No, I’m in HR,” Lott said. “Oh, that’s worse,” the person said.” http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/archive/2011/09/05/Training_YouTube_Test_HR_Lawsuit.aspx?source=HAC&effort=14

“HR has three pieces to its job, Lott says: the harmony part (morale, culture, conflict resolution), the productivity part (since the recession, getting at least 110 percent out of everyone), and the compliance part (not getting sued). http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/archive/2011/09/05/Training_YouTube_Test_HR_Lawsuit.aspx?source=HAC&effort=14

 Sadly, HR is probably worse than law. (I’m a lawyer.) Most people think they are experts at getting things done—even when  that involves others whose job it is to complete various tasks. Of course, very few of us really are experts on this-or on human behavior. How many of get out OWN to-do lists done? Not many.

The best advice I have seen on an HR post lately is this from “Are You a Manager or a Controller? : Hurricane Helps Us Find Out” Friday, September 02, 2011 3:00 AM, by Steve Bruce:

“A lot of executives [read humans] mistakenly believe they’re in control. They think they’ve climbed to the top of the ladder to be in charge. But really the best we can do as managers is, well, manage. All the planning and preparation in the world doesn’t allow you to control events, it only helps you influence or affect the outcome.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about your customers, employees, shareholders, or a hurricane, you can’t control what they do. Knowing the difference between controlling and managing can help you to focus on the things you can truly control.”

http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/archive/2011/09/02/Epinions_Management_Hurricane_Irene.aspx?source=HAC&effort=16

This also applies in every facet of life. Focus ON WHAT IS REALLY in YOUR hands. Tomorrow—how to stay resilient in the depressing hunt for work.

Normal
0

false
false
false

MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-ansi-language:#0400;
mso-fareast-language:#0400;
mso-bidi-language:#0400;}

Read on an HR resource:

*** On a plane, a seatmate asked Lott what his job was. Lott said, “I help companies avoid lawsuits.” “Are you a lawyer?” asked the seatmate. “No, I’m in HR,” Lott said. “Oh, that’s worse,” the person said.” http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/archive/2011/09/05/Training_YouTube_Test_HR_Lawsuit.aspx?source=HAC&effort=14

“HR has three pieces to its job, Lott says: the harmony part (morale, culture, conflict resolution), the productivity part (since the recession, getting at least 110 percent out of everyone), and the compliance part (not getting sued). http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/archive/2011/09/05/Training_YouTube_Test_HR_Lawsuit.aspx?source=HAC&effort=14

 

Sadly HR is probably worse than law. (I’m a lawyer.) Most people think they are experts at getting things done—even when  that involves others whose job it is to complete various tasks. Of course, very few of us really are experts on this-or on human behavior.

The best advice I have seen on an HR post lately is this from Hurricane Helps Us Find Out

Friday, September 02, 2011 3:00 AM
by Steve Bruce:

A lot of executives [read humans] mistakenly believe they’re in control. They think they’ve climbed to the top of the ladder to be in charge. But really the best we can do as managers is, well, manage. All the planning and preparation in the world doesn’t allow you to control events, it only helps you influence or affect the outcome.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about your customers, employees, shareholders, or a hurricane, you can’t control what they do. Knowing the difference between controlling and managing can help you to focus on the things you can truly control.” Are You a Manager or a Controller?

http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/archive/2011/09/02/Epinions_Management_Hurricane_Irene.aspx?source=HAC&effort=16

This also applies in every facet of life. Focus ON WHAT IS REALLY in YOUR hands. Tomorrow—how to stay resilient in the depressing hunt for work.

 

Interviews: How to Tell What The Values Of The Company Are

This gleaned from an HR publication: “The interviewing process is rife with opportunities for problems. For example, it’s important to avoid certain subjects, such as conversations about the applicant’s spouse or children. Some brief “small talk” at the beginning of an interview about the applicant’s child playing in the local soccer league may seem harmless, but it can quickly turn into evidence that you didn’t hire the applicant because you were worried she would need to leave work early because of her child’s extracurricular activities. “

(BTW, for the same reason using Facebook to research a candidate is legally dangerous.)

“Another danger spot is interview notes. Remember that any notes you take during the interview could become evidence at trial if the applicant files a lawsuit over your decision not to hire. Therefore, you must be cautious about the types of notes you take and how they relate to the applicant. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t take notes. It simply means you should make notes with the understanding that they could appear in letters six inches high in front of a jury.” http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/archive/2011//15/HR_Policies_Procedures_Discrimination_Smoking_Gun.aspx?source=HAD&effort=114

Note that the emphasis hear is fear and defensiveness. If you are looking for a job that matches your values you may wish to avoid this company… unfortunately this is the received wisdom” in HR—which is where I got this information! As I mentioned previously, if your interviewer seems preoccupied with their agenda… beware!  Sorry to be so alarmist but this IS the gestalt of Human Resources.

Look for a company that is NOT afraid. A company that is afraid of who will sue them next is NOT lookg for the real values of their “human capital. They are looking  for tier hid oarts– and probably because they have somethig to look out for.

You can do better.

Good Old HR…

I know I am dumping on the people you think you want to hire you, but… knowledge is power. You n3eed to know this stuff. Here are some well founded opinions other than my own, posted on LinkedIn:

“I am an experience leader and manager with a solid background of hiring mentoring and releasing employees. This idea that a credit check is a good tool for selecting employees is truly false. The professional HR people have gone way to far in their business of poking into the private lives of people whom they would consider hiring or screening for some one else who has that authority. In summary the professional HR folks have a bad case of elitism that needs to be reigned in if not totally done away with…
Art Swezey”

“It is tough for the right people to get in the right positions to influence this change. Issues like this will only change by hiring insightful leadership who stays aware of what is going on and doesn’t allow things to stay the way they were just because it has worked so far. Being a leader in your company and hiring new people requires boldness and careful attention to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Thank you Mr. Swezey. I try to see things for what they really are and cut to the heart of the issue.”

http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=129394&type=member&item=54319966&report.success=62WUlrnddR6bgwSqXhj6sMCTLzs-Mtpi3fLJWbNsWtuooxKwgTL8r5xsvgkbozKwEkXBakadko

Further, there is no “Human Resources” department in the military, so you may want to use this as one of many possible resources to learn the nature of the world you are trying to enter.

It is a world of people who do not really know how to hire or how to fire. It is a world of large companies. (None of this applies if you are working for a smaller company.) The large number of hiring and firing lawsuits attests to the truth of my assertions–and those of the two folks I have quoted.

So this also goes to the manta “make sure you do your research and this job really is a fit.” If (like me) you do not suffer fools gladly… you may want to stay away from large corporations.

Signing off for today…

So what’s with HR Blunders?

I know I am again preaching heresy… that Human Resources folks may not all be geniuses..  But I have dealt with them. I was a consultant they paid very well to assist them with hiring, firing and all manner of issues which companies face. There were three of us on the team– and I between us we had a HUGE amount of “in the trenches” “chops.” yet I wish I had a hundred bucks for each tome we were told “but that would never work” for what we knew were best practices. So, you see… these people (almost) all read the same books and make the same mistakes.”

If you follow the news you know how often people are badly hired… and badly fired.  Shucks–the fact that most corporations  now look only to their shareholders should tell you a lot– they don’t care about you, dear job seeker, and the family you have always supported in your military career… and they only will when you have become a “key” person. Which, as you knock on the  door, fresh out of the service, you are not.

So here are a few of the things they do: First off, as you may know, follow a pattern to slog though the excess of resumes. ANY error may get you (your resume) sh*tcaned….so you had best get the resume right. (More on that later as well.)

Second, if you send out the same cover letter to everyone you may as well go fishing… or biking or whatever you enjoy doing–because this will not impress a single soul who reads it. (Which is one reason you REALLY OUGHT to have been more patient when  your English composition teacher TRIED to teach you how to write well!)

So… the fact that HR people are probably overworked and underwhelmed by most applicants  is just ONE SMALL PART of what you need to know to stand out.