Thursday, June 12, 2008

I guess it HAD to happen.

My daughter Christina, her husband, and her son (my ONLY grandchild) came to visit from Tampa this week. We only get to see her about 2-3 times each year, and grandson is now three (and as cute as you can possibly imagine!), so we look forward to seeing them all.

There was only ONE problem. Christina had read my post of May 24 about the dreaded “C” (which shall remain unnamed in this post) and immediately began to experience its effects. Within a few days her car died (alternator failure), her toilet overflowed, and she dropped and broke a new, expensive pair of sunglasses.

All in all, I’d say she got off easy! A few days after she and her family arrived here in Texas, our home air conditioner failed.

Now it has only failed one other time in the last 9 years. So how would it “know” to fail when we have company staying here, AND when the daytime highs were in the low to mid 90s? How ELSE can you explain this except for the dreaded “C”? As is typical in these cases, the “C” tends to strike at the worst possible time.

Oh, the failure happened to be a $350 part, but NOT the compressor (which is still under warranty). Is that Convenient? No, it’s Crappy! And yes, BOTH begin with “C”.

So, we had to pay for the new part, plus labor to install the darn thing, plus a motel room for our visiting guests so they could get some sleep at night. And all of this when gasoline is approaching $4 a gallon! (Gasoline has nothing to do with our failed air conditioner, but I had to get my complaint in there about gas prices somehow.)

So stand by, dear readers. It appears another outbreak of the “C” is building up to full force. Just when we’ve gotten into hurricane season, too!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Kissing Frogs

The company I work for has 140 employees. By this time in 2010 I expect we’ll have 200. No recession here!

I’m the Human Resources Manager. That means that I’m responsible for all the recruiting, screening, selection, hiring, orientation and initial training for those new folks.

And, oh by the way, my little department also handles all the plant health and safety, security, benefits administration, payroll, training and recordkeeping, and general employee relations activities.

Not to mention the ISO 9001 quality program, and our participation in the OSHA VPP program as a STAR site. It seems I’m leaving something else out . . . Oh, yeah, I also sign all the payables checks, approve wire transfers, handle the uniform leasing and laundry service, and . . . I’m pretty sure there’s more.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’d rather be recruiting and hiring than laying people off! But many larger firms have a full-time recruiting group; that’s all they do. And there’s a reason for that. Recruiting—done properly—takes a lot of time, effort, and not a little skill.

You see, there are a whole lot of frogs that need to be kissed before a prince shows up. And every one of those frogs has to be treated like a potential prince until proven otherwise. Sometimes the frog/prince is only revealed in royal form after a certain style kiss. They don’t always respond immediately to a quick peck on the lips; some need a more probing, deeper kiss (in-depth interview) to reveal their hidden qualities.

On the flip side, some appear to be taking on a prince-like appearance only to have their true webbed feet and amphibian nature revealed later.

Even after an ineffective, unsuccessful buss many of those now-proven frogs keep coming back asking for another chance, another interview, etc. (Another kiss?!? BLEAH! I don’t THINK so!)

Part of the HR manager's job is to keep those frogs just happy enough that they don't claim they were somehow discriminated against or otherwise treated unfairly. (By definition, if they don't get a job offer something MUST have been unfair, right? “Hey, I’m not really an amphibian! Kiss me again and I’ll show you! It’s YOUR fault—you didn’t give me the right kind of kiss!”)

The trap I NEVER want to fall into is to answer honestly the inevitable question, “What did I do wrong? Why didn’t you choose me?”

Why not be honest? Why not just say, “Well, you’re a FROG, fly-breath, and being a prince is a BFOQ.” (In case you didn’t know, that’s short for a Bona-Fide Occupational Qualification. It’s defined as a quality which on the surface might appear to be discriminatory but can be a legal requirement in certain circumstances.) The reason is: there is just no way that a focus on the negative (“Why NOT me?”) won’t possibly come back later to haunt you as an illegal act of discrimination. (“Well, you hired three other candidates who were just as green as me!”)

So what do I do? I tell the truth! I always stick with, “Gee, I only had two (or three or four) jobs to fill, and a whole bunch of well-qualified applicants. I couldn’t hire all the ones I wanted to”(well, that might be a slight stretch). “But I’ll certainly consider you for the next opening I have if it’s something you might be qualified for!” (And THAT might be a HUGE stretch! I rationalize it by the fact that although my “consideration” might be about 0.5 seconds long, I’ll consider them!)

All that puckering up, and gathering of paperwork (applications and resumes), and setting up interviews, and following up afterwards, and answering the same questions a bunch of times takes time. A LOT of time!

But when the real, true prince appears (the well-qualified applicant with the perfect personality), it makes all that kissing (and gargling with Scope) seem worthwhile.

Till the next amphibian hops up off the lilly pad with its tongue out!