Posts Tagged ‘Human resources’

Nobel, Or Un-Noble ?

January 27, 2013 2 comments

From Nassim Taleb’s “The Black Swan“:

And now a brief history of the “Nobel” Prize in economics, which was established by the Bank of Sweden in honor of Alfred Nobel, who may be, according to his family who wants the prize abolished, now rolling in his grave with disgust. An activist family member calls the prize a public relations coup by economists aiming to put their field on a higher footing than it deserves. True, the prize has gone to some valuable thinkers, such as the empirical psychologist Daniel Kahneman and the thinking economist Friedrich Hayek. But the committee has gotten into the habit of handing out Nobel Prizes to those who “bring rigor” to the process with pseudoscience and phony mathematics. – Taleb, Nassim Nicholas. The Black Swan: Second Edition.

One example (out of several) that Mr. Taleb uses to back his disrespectful opinion of the vaunted Nobel prize in economics is the tale of prize winners Robert Merton, Jr., and Myron Scholes. Robert and Myron worked for Long Term Capital Management LP in the late 90’s. Of course, since they had a rigorously tight and academically peer reviewed modeling strategy, they were touted as geniuses and lots of people threw money at them in the hopes of making a killing in the financial markets. However, a combination of events lying outside of their impeccably rigorous, Gaussian-based, award-winning, often-copied, financial models caused the company to go ka-boom! Because of the massive 4.6 billion dollar loss (suffered in only 4 months) authored by these perceived Gods, the US Federal Reserve sensed that an LTCM bankruptcy could topple the entire financial system. Thus, the Fed orchestrated a huge bailout by a consortium of Wall St. and international banks.

The attempt by the guild of economics to elevate themselves to a level of respect higher than they deserve reminds me of this quote by Sam Culbert about the Gestapo, uh, I mean (in)Human(e) Resource departments in “Get Rid Of The Performance Appraisal” :

So in return for being the cheerleaders for management, the (HR) department that permits management abuse and cleans up after its mistakes, it gets a seat at the big boys’ table.

But so…. freakin’…. what! Every individual, group, and institution has an innate need to survive and thrive before the grim reaper comes a callin’ fer us down the road. It’s simply that the tactics and methods that we use to achieve our needs differ. Obviously, BD00 (and most likely you too) are “above” all the unfairness and inequity in the world. We’re fair and just and we deserve better. We’re not like the guild of economists or the Gestapo HR departments in corpocracies. Damn it, we’re better than “them“! The behaviors we exercise in order to survive and thrive are always noble; never un-noble (cough, cough).

Better Than You

Preposterously Unacceptable

October 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Unless they’re cosmetic tweaks, all proposed alternatives to the unassailable and revered Annual Performance Review (APR) will always be auto-stamped as preposterously unacceptable by the powers that be. It has to be that way, cuz expecting the wolf who’s guarding the hen house to voluntarily give up his post is a slam dunk losing proposition. Nevertheless, let’s look at one of these preposterously unacceptable alternatives just for fun.

Sam Culbert, in “Get Rid Of The Performance Review“, proposes deep-sixing the laughable APR ritual and replacing the stinker with the (crappily named) “performance preview” (PP). The first major feature of the PP is that salary actions are severed from the process. They’re independently determined according to a more objective set of criteria (perhaps like how Joel Spolsky does it at Fog Creek Software). Removing the salary sledgehammer from the hand of the formerly omnipotent manager increases the chance that a straight-talking, two-way conversation regarding individual and organizational improvement will occur.

Mr. Culbert’s face-to-face PP, which can be called into being whenever either side “feels” it should happen, is predicated on both sides answering simple questions like these:

  • What have I been doing recently that helps you and the organization perform better?
  • What have I been doing recently that isn’t working for you and the organization?
  • What can I do in the near future to help you and the organization improve?

Notice that thesw are questions to be answered by both sides – as opposed to one way, judgmental assertions made by the boss “on behalf of the borg” to the subordinate. There are also no formal forms or checklists to be signed and squirreled away in Hoover files to be brandished later for compliance coercion.

This blog post barely scratches the surface of Mr. Culbert’s PP process, but hopefully it’ll spur you to buy his book and learn more about this HR anti-christ. On second thought, don’t do it. If you’re a DICkster, it might bum you out since you’ll vividly realize that you’re helpless and you can’t “fight city hall“. If you’re in the hallowed guild of management (especially the unconsciously evil HR echelon), because of its preposterous unacceptability, it might send shivers up your spine and/or piss you off.

Note: Instead of “Performance Preview” (PP), BD00 would’ve called it something like “I Help, You Help” (IHYH).

Be Thankful

October 18, 2012 3 comments

In “Abolishing Performance Appraisals“, Coens and Jenkins state:

One study found that 98% of people saw themselves in the top half of all performers. Another study showed that 80% of people saw themselves in the top quarter of all performers. Other research indicates that 59% of workers across a variety of jobs disagreed or strongly disagreed with any rating that was not the highest on the scale.

Now, assume that your in-Human Resources (iHR) department, under the condoning eyes of the C-suite, enforces the standard bell curve rating system on the DICforce to keep operating costs in check and to implement the industry’s most sacred “best practice“. Of course, the ratings are doled out at the beloved Annual Performance Review (APR) ritual along with subjective lists of personal faults that need “improvement” and 2% raises – a brilliant triple punch combo to the psyche. To make things more interesting, assume that all the reviews are given at the same time each year.

Given the information above, the cyclical morale curve below was scientifically developed by BD00 using one of his patented social system algorithms.

The curve shows that the average “system-wide” morale peaks just prior to the APR; and then it takes a nose dive after most of those optimistic DICs get a dose of reality from their supervisors (whose morale also takes a nose dive from being forced by iHR to administer the deflating news). Subsequent to the nadir, the system morale slowly recovers and rises back to its peak – until boom, the next iHR sponsored APR takes place. Whoo hoo! Dontcha just luv rollercoaster rides?

Just think of the lost productivity and sub-quality work performed during the annual dips. The next time you see an iHR group member, don’t fugget to thank him/her for the wonderful APR system his/her group presides over. Uh, on second thought, don’t do it. Nothing of substance is likely to change and you may be perceived as difficult, disrespectful, and disloyal – three more items to tack onto next year’s personal fault list. Plus, these types of things are undiscussable and they’re not within your tiny silo of expertise.

Not Arbiters, Nor Catalysts

October 12, 2012 2 comments

When I was young and naive (as opposed to my current state: old and misinformed), I entered the werkfarce thinking that HR departments were supposed to be compassionate arbiters of disputes and employee development catalysts – until I discovered what they actually did:

HR groups are bright shining examples of POSIWID. “The Purpose Of a System Is What It Does” – not what it says it does. Alas, BD00 doesn’t think that most HR departments are maliciously evil, they’re just so indoctrinated and immersed in Tayloresque, Theory-X thinking that “they know not what they do“. How about you? Besides thinking that BD00 knows not what he does, what do you think?

Inability To Assimilate

August 22, 2010 Leave a comment

In this Federal Computer Week magazine blog post, the author laments about the inability to hire talented people into the government borg:

  • “The supervisors here are sycophants who are only interested in their careers.”
  • “My experience is (more or less) a third of folks (management and labor) are amazing and functional well beyond pay and expectations. Another third are limited, work-reward clock-punchers. The last third are untrainable and unfireable.”
  • “I’ve seen one too many occasions of “hiring teams” not hiring the best qualified but hiring friends that don’t meet the job requirements. “
  • “The federal human resources processes do not necessarily match skills and education with job positions. “
  • “We have more layers of management and more keep getting added without adding any workers.”
  • “There are contracting personnel put in jobs who have not a clue about true contracting processes. These individual are put in position because of favoritism.”
  • “Most middle-level managers want to demonstrate they are in control.”

Of course, the statements above only apply to government bloat-ocracies, no?

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