I’ve never been one for pussy-footed HR-speak. Nor political correctness for its own sake. And especially not all this new business talk that tries to make everything sound much more impressive than it really is. I’ve written previously on “socialising documents” but a whole new batch of this stuff crossed my desk this week. It was a training schedule, listing the courses that HR will be providing over the next few months for anyone wishing to sign up. Here they are, in alphabetical order:
- Dealing with Different Personalities
It’s amazing that the touchy-feely brigade has never managed to agree on their approach to this. On the one hand, you have the insistence that everyone is the same, with the same abilities, even when it’s patently obvious that they aren’t. I’m not even going to get started on the “differently abled” tripe. And yet on the other hand, they feel the need to contradict themselves with this sort of baloney. But notice the subtle way that it is done – you’re not dealing with different people, you’re dealing with different personalities. The people are all the same, you just need to deal with them in different ways, because they act differently.
- Giving Structured Feedback
The only structure anyone needs to know about is that feedback should have a start, a middle and an ending. That should take all of twenty seconds to convey. Another ten to mention that the middle can take the form of a list if the feedback you’re giving requires it. And finally, you’d want to take seven or eight seconds to point out that you’d probably want to list the positive aspects of the feedback first, before trotting out all the negatives. Or the other way around, depending on which set needs more focus. And that’s about it. Structured Feedback in under a minute. I wonder what they’ll deal with during the other 59 this course provides.
- Highly Effective Time Management
This is the course you go to when you’ve done the “Time Management” course, and found it useful, but not useful enough. Somehow, the things you learned don’t seem to help in organising your day. So then you do the “Effective Time Management” course, which corrected all the ineffective time management techniques you learned on the first course. This improves things dramatically, but still, there’s room for improvement. Naturally, your mind drifts (one of the problems that the second course didn’t fix), and ends up noticing this course in your training inbox. Not just “Effective Time Management”, but Highly Effective Time Management. It’ll revolutionise your already effectively time-boxed existence.
- How Strategy is Created
Fools. Don’t they know that strategy is neither created nor destroyed – it is merely transformed from one mission statement into another?
- Leading Change
At last – I’ll give them this one. There are definitely better and worse ways of dealing with a changing environment when leading a team, and the people in charge should know these things.
- Leading Inspirationally
You either inspire people, or you don’t. Even if you do, it won’t work all the time, and not with everyone. And I definitely don’t buy the story that anyone can become an inspiring leader by attending an hour-long session telling you how to do it. I’d wager that the average duration that someone stays inspired after listening to Richard Branson or reading Stephen Covey is well under a month.
- Leading with Emotional Intelligence
Oh dear. Where do they get this stuff. Probably from places like this, where you can learn up to 600 vital skills for the modern leader. Must be really pithy stuff if I need to learn 600 skills. And what do you know – it starts with being Self-Aware. Tick. Self-Regulation? Tick. Motivation? Tick. Social Skills? Moving right along, then…
- Managing and Cascading Communications
Here’s a pet peeve of mine. Nobody just passes news on any more. A manager who goes to a meeting doesn’t tell his team what went on, or what the big bosses said. They’re expected to “cascade” the information. Like the champagne pouring down the mountain of glasses they always have in big parties in the movies. At least once or twice a month, I’ll get an email instructing me to cascade this or that to my team. Ok, so it’s not as bad as “piece of work”, but it’s worse than “triage”.
- Negotiating the Right Result
I think there’s a misunderstanding here. “Negotiating” so that you get the right result isn’t negotiating at all – it’s manipulation. Negotiation is about compromise, and finding situations that both sides are happy with. It has very little to do with picking what you want ahead of time, and pursuing that as a goal.
- Productive Conversations
Have we really fallen so far in our ability to deal with other people that it’s now necessary to learn how to talk to each other in a productive way? Can’t we just go up to someone and say “Excuse me, I need to know the answer to this – could you help me please?” That would get you at least half-way to what you need. It’s as though every interaction with people needs to be pumped and primed and energised to obtain the maximum return for me. Negotiate to get the right result for me, and stuff compromise. Structure a conversation to suck the most out of the other person, and forget their requirements. Even looking at this stuff through the rosy spectacles of Emotional Intelligence won’t make it look like anything other than a detached way of mining the Resource out of Human Resource.
- Self Deception
I’m not sure whether this is “How to avoid deceiving yourself” or whether it’s more a case of “How to trick yourself into thinking that you’re satisfied with your working conditions and enthusiastic about your pay, and so achieve ultimate happiness at the office.” I suspect that it’s actually a combination of both – a clever MI5-type double agent trick – where you’ll learn how to see the truth while being given an altered version of the truth to use as a standard.
- Thinking Strategies
It appears that the trainers need a bit of this themselves. When Personnel switched to being Human Resource, it resulted in people being treated like stock in a supermarket. Reverse that trend, and you’ll find that much of the material brought out above becomes completely unnecessary.