What is the point of Human Resources? This is inevitably a department filled with apparatchiks that enforce the status quo, refuse to support employees during disputes with management, involve themselves in team-building psychobabble, and generally occupy the best-located parts of an office building. These apparatchiks are invidious. They also serve no earthly purpose.
A while ago, our investment floor thought to have a pow-wow to decide which products and services the investment professionals considered most worthy to be promoted in the markets. The idea was for the various investment teams to provide a brief overview of their products, explain what the demand was, identify the potential clientele, and discuss what they'd need from the rest of the organisation to sell these products. Simple and straightforward? Only as long as no HR person gets involved.
I'll confess here that HR did not gatecrash the party - they were invited. Possibly this was to cover the management's rear-ends in case people got extra excited and started slanging each other off. Or, worse, slanging off management and possibly the rest of the organisation, which - as any investment professional will tell you - is staffed by hangers-on and pointlessness. So an HR person did attend.
She was not content with mere attendance, oh no. First, she decided that a little bit of humour was indicated. She put up images of the judges of the Pop Idol television show and juxtaposed them with images of some of the investment managers. Admittedly one or two bore uncanny resemblance to the TV personas. Then she blew it by comparing the boss with Simon Cowell, except, she added, 'it is not clear who is richer.'
Was that necessary? Was that even appropriate? But hey, HR said it, so voila.
Seeing us trooping back into the meeting hall after lunch, she decided that she should enliven proceedings with some energy boosting exercises. So she said:
- People who, when they cross their arms, put their right arm atop the left arm - please move to the right of the room. (People shuffled about the room.)
- People who, when they put their hands together, put their right thumb atop the left one, please move to the right. (People shuffled about the room.)
- People who, when they hop, hop on their left leg, please move to the left of the room. (People shuffled about the room.)
- People who, when they talk on the phone, put the phone to their left ear, please move to the left of the room. (People shuffled about the room.)
By this time, people were shuffling about like slugs, a little less energised but possibly a little more exasperated. To wind up, she said: People who, when they use toilet paper, scrunch it up, move to the left, while those who fold it, move to the right.
R e v o l t i n g. Nothing like a bit of toilet humour to energise the planet.
At the end of the proceedings, when the decisions had been made and people were ready to wind up, HR person took to the podium once again.
Y'all was good, she said, some fine energy, all focused y'all, was a long day with some tough decisions, and y'all made it.