I’ve always been a small company guy. I’ve either worked in them, or I’ve owned them. In my entire 20+ year career, I’ve never worked in a large company – with Martin and High End being the largest (at the time both were in the 400 person range). Even then – they were too large for my liking. Any time a company needs a board of directors, and the dreaded HR Department, I am outta there. To me – some companies likely “need” HR Departments – and that’s only because they’ve got to manage the level of BS, Rhetoric and Corporate red tape being produced. I’ve found that the people who find there way into the HR Department to complain are generally the ones who should then be chased out of the company. Much like the old days of elementary school – the kids who always ran to the principals office trying to get me in trouble for something… well – maybe sometimes I deserved it…
I am sure there are cases where legitimate abuse or harassment is taking place, however, more often it’s simply a person who wants to climb the corporate ladder of middle management the easiest way possible without actually producing anything. These are the ones spending most of the time making people write policies to protect themselves, then staffing HR Departments to further protect themselves, then – when everything goes terribly wrong, they end up hiring attorneys to protect themselves again.
So, what is it they’re protecting themselves from? Is it the people who are doing wrong or is it the people who are blowing the whistle? I think the answer is clear. Remove the vehicle, and you’ll remove the whistle blowers. If someone is truly abusing a staff member, that staff member should have access to senior management – who will be managers! They’ll analyze the situation, and make a decision that’s best for their company. It’s not my position as a business owner to create this wonderful fluffy environment. If I treat my people well (which I do) then I will have them around me for many years. If I don’t they will move on.
I’ve got a horrible story to tell you and the inspiration for this particular blog entry. My brother in-law (from now on lets call him Ken) is someone I’ve known pretty much since birth and he’s a great guy. Ken is a very old fashioned, hard working, good to the core kinda guy. He has been with my sister for 40 years now, and they’re great together. Ken is so committed that he’s been at his job for 31 years! In the past 31 years, I’ve gone trough Elementary, Jr High, High School, my first band, my first job – and about 10 jobs since then. I’ve never thought of myself as someone who could stay at one job 10 years, let alone 31 years.
So, anyway, a couple of weeks ago, my brother-in-law’s employer – Veritas who is a large Geophysical company based in Calgary Canada, brings in a new hot shot HR girl. She goes out of her way to set up a meeting with Ken so she can prove her middle management worth to her boss – who is likely ALSO an un-necessary cog in the profit making wheel of business. Trust me – I know the type. Before I started Gearsource, I was forced to sit in on some meetings with our new VP of Human Resources – and while listening to her, all I could think of was “And we’re paying you how much”. I hate to pick on these people as a whole, but frankly – they’re in place to cause problems, and play god. When did this happen? Weren’t HR departments supposed to create benefits packages, and great work incentives, or incentive plans for their companies resources? When did they retire into a role of writing and enforcing stupid policy? Annnnyway… I digress. So, Ken accepts his meeting with this new HR person. Why not? Although it would likely be a waste of his time, why wouldn’t he at least listen to what she had to say. So she comes into his office on a very busy day, and acts like she’s his best friend, while proceeding to say “what can HR do to help make your department more productive”… now, once again – i’ve been around a while – and I’ve heard the very same line. I’ve given MUCH less diplomatic answers than Ken did – and never had a problem. On this day though, someone seemed to have ulterior motives. She had every intention this and every day of stirring something up, and using the huge company book of policy to somehow further her career. So, Ken basically responded, in a polite way, that the best thing that HR could do would be to leave the department alone. She tried to dig a little further, but Ken was quite busy, and asked that the meeting end. She obliged.
The next thing Ken knows, this woman has lodged a Harassment complaint against him stating that Ken wounded her morale and made it very difficult for her to do her job… UN-BE-LIEV-ABLE!!! When this all went down, Ken felt like he might have a heart attack. He could not believe that after 31 years of slaving, and losing sleep over this company, and treating people VERY well, he was being accused of ANYTHING let alone Harassment, and to be honest, I find it pretty hard to believe myself.
You have to first understand who this person is. Ken is the quietest, nicest guy you could meet. He is not A type at all. He doesn’t stress over things, he’s very quiet – and does not walk around his office shouting and waving his arms. Ken has been through 100 management changes at Veritas, and has seen it all – yet, he’s continued working his butt off for the company. He works nights, weekends, and whatever it takes to get it done. At one point a couple of years ago, Ken had many months of Vacation built up – because he always refused to take vacations since it would (in his mind) hurt the company if he were to do so.
So now, the company has sided with this woman, and Ken has been told that he must take Anger Management training, and visit a Harassment seminar. It’s all on the company dime of course, because while we’re at it – we need to waste a whole lot of company money because this woman’s feelings were hurt when she couldn’t change the world. Does this make any sense to you?
When the story hit me yesterday, I was blown away. I asked if Ken has spoken to his bosses or anyone else, and the answer was “No, he’s been given a gag order”. Again, lets look at the crime. He told the person “HR can help my department by leaving it alone”… THAT’S IT! He didn’t curse, yell, or otherwise berate this woman. She wanted to be a hero, and in this case, her heroics were not required – so she turned the companies weapons against it’s longest standing and hardest working employee. Does this sound right? The HR person should have been reprimanded for harassing HIM instead of being rewarded for being ridiculous. This story would bother me to no end whether it happened to a family member, friend, or complete unknown. I HATE corporate crap. I hate when bureaucracy grabs hold of a good, profitable company of productive, happy people and reduces them to a vanilla flavored pack of zombies who produce very little, but behave exactly as the company manual says they should. Believe me – I would take a group of edgy, misbehaving, CREATIVE people any day of the week. If you want to turn your company into a complete loser, follow the lead of great businesses like Veritas, and demoralize your greatest assets by treating them exactly this way.
Done for now…
PS: Following is a “Vision and Values” statement taken directly off of Veritas’ website…
- We strive to excel and have a passion for what we do
- We recognize and reward individual commitment and performance
- We believe teamwork is our driving force and value global diversity
- We seek and provide opportunities for personal development and professional advancement