It probably sounds perverse, but one of the things I like about talking to HR people who have been around the block a few times is their war stories. This is a classic:
Advised by a manager of an incident, I got the expected phone call from an aggrieved employee.
“I want to complain – I’ve just had a bollocking for going shopping in a supermarket during work time.”
At this point I should make it clear that I learned my interrogation technique from a wonderful lady who told me “never ask a question to which you don’t already know the answer”.
So I said “Didn’t you do that then?”
“No, he said I was in the shop at 1135 but I’ve got a receipt which shows the time was 1153.”
“Oh yes, and what time does your lunch period start?”
“So your receipt actually proves you were in the shop during work time, more to the point you must have been in the shop before 1153 when you got to the checkout.”
“Let me ask you another question, how did you get there?”
“In the van.”
“But you can’t drive can you?”
“Erm, no.” Silence at the other end of the line – he could see where this was going by now.
“So how did you get there?”
“One of the lads drove me.”
“What did he do while you were in the shop?”
“He waited outside.”
“OK, so just to clarify, you left the place where you were supposed to be working some time before 1135, lets say 1125 at the latest, went to the supermarket in a works vehicle using works petrol, driven by one of the lads who should also have been working, you were in the shop 15 minutes or more and all of this was before your lunch break, by your own admission?”
“I suggest you take your bollocking, go away, and don’t do it again because if you want to take this further you might find yourself on disciplinary charges.”
(He laughs) “OK then”.
Off he went, and never a squeak from him again. How stupid can some people be?
This story comes from Ruth who has chucked in her HR career to run a music shop, which is a pity because I think I would have enjoyed working with her had our paths ever crossed.
That said, she’s tagged me with one of those horrible meme things asking me to list eight things I hate. I might have to think about that one before I post it.