There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills

Golden NuggetOver the course of this week I’ve had conversations with various business leaders and HR pros in which I learned things that ranged from amusing to interesting to downright depressing.

Informational nugget #1 – While we all realize that many governmental entities (federal, state, local) still use the moniker “Personnel” when referring to the HR function, I learned of one which had changed its name to HR from Personnel quite some time ago  – probably when we ALL did this in the 80’s.  But then, for reasons unknown, the department’s name was changed back to “Personnel” within the past decade.  I guess everything old is new again.  Amusing.

Informational nugget #2 – The desire to re-engineer/re-imagine/re-define Human Resources is infiltrating more organizations.  I came across an entity that has drawn a virtual DMZ between “Human Resources” and, well, “Human Resources.”  Nestled under the CFO is the “Transactional (my term) HR Department” which handles benefits, employee relations, HRIS, new hires/terminations/transfers and compliance.  Residing under the COO is the “Transformational (my term) HR Department” which has responsibility for performance management, talent management, learning and performance, leadership development and business strategy.  A scenario that will, in my estimation, become more and more common thus leading to conversations like this:

Sally Employee: “I need to go talk to someone in HR.” 

Joe Employee: “Which HR?”


Informational nugget #3 – At the conclusion of a presentation I did yesterday about social technologies and social behavior in organizations an attendee pulled me aside to relate a story.  There’s a department in her organization (a professional services, administrative, cubicle-infused world) where the manager has determined that employees spend too much time on their cell phones. Rather than manage however he has instituted a practice that he, no doubt, believes is rather ingenious.  He has installed one of those over-the-door shoe bags (the kind that holds 26 pairs of shoes) at the entrance to the department and instructed his staff members that upon reporting to work each day they are to place their cell phones in a slot.  They can then ‘rescue’ their phone when going to lunch or leaving for the day.  This is the conversation that would occur were I to work for this manager:

Dinosaur Manager:  “Robin, please put your phone in the shoe bag before you sit down at your desk.” 

Me:  “Sod off.”

Downright depressing.

There’s a bit of gold in these nuggets.  Ranging from the gold-plated crap you can win from the local carnie to 24k.

Ready to go into the mine with me?


  1. Bob Tarver says:

    With regards to nugget #3…..What would that same manager do if it was a company issued cell phone that the Es’s were using….

  2. HRBR says:

    Yeah… What he said! And I love the #2 response… “Which HR?”

  3. Lee says:

    So how would you have handled nugget #3? Discipline? Set a policy? I mean, what he did is very high school but effective I guess…doesn’t make for a happy workforce.

    • Robin Schooling says:

      One handles #3 the same way one has ALWAYS handled #3 – set expectations for behavior and results and address them as they arise. Sally spends all her time on her iPhone playing Candy Crush then you talk to Sally about her need to get her work done and not distract others, etc. Rather, this manager has chosen to act like dad and treat ALL his staff members like children rather than adults.

  4. HRManNZ says:

    The last one is ridiculous. Reminds me of a story heard about a similar organisation where the boss dealt with people listening to music by going around with scissors and cutting their earphone leads.

    #2 is my biggest hate. I’ve seen that done before. End result? Two independent empires that don’t talk to each other and are working in splendid isolation and constrained by internal politics. Messy.

  5. Bill Boorman says:

    You told an untruth in this blog post Robin

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