Firing the Jerk Things I Wish for HR Pros in 2008

HR pros are due for a great year-kind of like the Red Sox in 2004 before they reversed the curse and won the World Series. With that in mind, Kris Dunn channels a little Tony Robbins your way with a dozen heartfelt wishes for 2008.

January 10, 2008
I was going to fire up a column to start 2008 with my New Year’s resolutions as a U.S. HR manager, but let’s face it: By February, I’ll be in survival mode and most of the resolutions will be toast. So I’ll take a pass on making that list and just download some self-improvement audio on my iPod instead.

    That doesn’t mean that we HR pros don’t deserve a great 2008. To the contrary, we’re due for a great year, kind of like the Red Sox in 2004 before they nixed the curse and won the World Series. With that in mind, I’m REALLY hoping this is your breakout year. So much so, I’m channeling a little Tony Robbins your way with the following heartfelt wishes:

  • May the new benefits vendors you rolled out for 2008 deliver on their promises and get the billing right, in the first invoice you receive this month. May your employees be satisfied with the changes and resulting coverage, even the 5 percent who are vocal about every change you make and believe you are the human version of Catbert.

  • May you offer your employees an attractive time-off package without getting totally jobbed by the proposed Healthy Families Act, which would require employers with more than 15 employees to add seven days of paid sick leave to any existing policy. If the HFA looks to be on the fast track to approval, may you have the foresight to dismantle your PTO policy into buckets of vacation and sick time to prepare for the change.

  • May this be a year without layoffs for you to administer on behalf of your company. If you have do layoffs, may you be blessed with a management team that understands the value of treating people with respect under such circumstances. May your process be free of rehire offers for less money, and may you be armed with severance packages greater than one week’s worth of pay.

  • May you be invited to attend a swanky, company-sponsored, all-expense-paid junket of your choosing. May no one be surprised to see you, the HR pro, at said junket. May you personally not be surprised to have been invited and actually be attending.

  • May you become certified as a PHR/SPHR, if that’s on your wish list for 2008. If you are certified, may you find some tolerable activities necessary for recertification if you are at the end of your three-year cycle.May you find some type of ROI in being certified, whether through increased lifetime compensation, increased knowledge, or warm inner glow in knowing you are part of the 11 percent of all HR pros holding certification.

  • May you remain calm when you see the first of a hundred reports in 2008indicating business leaders "Still Hate HR" or otherwise questioning the viability of your profession. May you deny the initial urge to write a letter to the editor, and instead spend the time outlining a new HR project that adds previously unseen value to the operations you support. May the reaction to your proposal be positive and the fruit from the project be plentiful. May you react to each subsequent article on "Why HR Stinks" by starting and implementing a new HR project adding value. May all of our peers who think that’s a bad idea leave the profession in 2008.

  • May you conduct a vigorous self-inventoryto determine if your HR job stinks. If your job stinks, may you do what is necessary to prepare yourself for a new position in 2008 and conduct an extensive search for a new opportunity. May you land in a new gig that doesn’t stink before the end of this year andget your Johnny Paycheck on.

  • May you spend your days in 2008 in a union-free environment, and may the business you support be free of any type of organizing in the upcoming year. May the absence of organizing be a direct reflection of how your company treats people, and may we all make it through 2008 with no action related to the passage of theEmployee Free Choice Act, which, in an ironic twist, actually reduces employee choice related to union representation.

  • May your company’s turnover be less than it was in 2007 and below industry standards. If that doesn’t happen, may you be able torationalize that much of the exodus was good, rather than bad, turnover. May you have a solid, yet easy-to-explain, rundown of good versus bad turnover if your non-HR boss asks you for the difference.

  • May your performance management/merit increase system become more effective at rewarding high performers in a manner which differentiates them from low performers. May you have the tools to force managers desiring an across-the-board increase ("like we used to do at the UAW") to reward the aforementioned high performers accordingly. May such rewards be based on performance rather than friendships. May you have the skill to pull off such a system without being named ina forced ranking lawsuit.

  • May you ramp up your knowledge of Web 2.0 in the HR space by recruiting via LinkedIn, checking out and interacting with your employees on Facebook and brushing up on what’s going on in your professionby subscribing to the best HR blogs in the business. May your employees and colleagues see you active via the technology and consider you to be innovator, and not a dinosaur.

    And last, but certainly not least:

  • May your company fire the jerk that was the sole source of the unsolvable employee relations issues you faced in 2007. May the company immediately realize the rationalizations for keeping them around were unfounded, and may the employees liberated by the employment action nod knowingly at you in the hallways under the assumption you were part of the decision-making process.

    These are the things I wish for you in 2008. In short, be nice when you can and tough when you need to be, OK? Make it a great year!