This story from the Evil HR Lady reminded me of my time as a line HR manager.
This week, I had an employee come to me and complain about other employees not washing their hands after using the bathroom. They wanted me to put up signs telling people they need to wash their hands before returning to work. Needless to say, I do NOT work at a McDonald’s. My (rhetorical) question is this: does putting up a sign telling people to do something or not do something actually work?? If so, I need to rethink our whole office communication plan. It might save me a whole lot of time and trouble.
I had to deal with a similar problem once. I seem to remember gritting my teeth, briefly fantasising about sending the complainant to a Siberian labour camp, then saying something polite but firm about personal responsibility.
When I was a proper HR manager, I came up with Rick’s 95/5 Rule. It’s like the 80/20 Rule, only worse.
You spend 95% of your time on 5% of the people.
The serial grievance-raisers, the pedantic rule-book junkies, the over-promoted managers who can’t handle their staff, the new recruits who want to re-negotiate the firm’s relocation package, the perpetual whingers and the people, like the Evil HR Lady’s employee, who see the company as some kind of surrogate nanny-state.
And it’s amazing how the same names just come up over and over again. The penny dropped for me when I realised that there were hunderds of people in the organisation that I’d never met but a few who I saw more often than my family.
Joking aside, I recently helped an organisation set up an HR service centre with a call logging system. Within weeks, it was clear that certain departments and individuals took up a disproportionate amount of HR time. Perhaps not a 95/5 ratio but a significant figure nonetheless. Now the professional response to this is, of course, to investigate the organisational malaise behind this data and, indeed, that’s what my client did after we had presented the information to the management team.
All the same, though, sometimes you can’t help wondering if some people are just naturally a pain in the arse whatever you try to do for them.