HR Mumbo Jumbo (vent)

Sorry for the length, but a proper vent sometimes requires it.

I am a multi-hatter, which in my case includes being the CFO and the HR director, among other duties.

We have had some discussion threads on this forum regarding the wisdom of mixing these two disciplines. I think it a fair summary to say that a high percentage of regular forum posters think it is bad practice because accountants just don’t get HR. Some even go so far to say that accounting types can only see in black and white and therefore miss the kaleidoscope of colors found in the HR world.

I hate to admit it, but sometimes that is true.

Case in point: Our family counseling coordinator (Social Work type degree), resigned to go to dental hygienist school. We replaced her hours as a coordinator by making one of our part-time counselors full time. This involved a change in the job description and nowrequires an EE to have a MFT license, which is why we did not post the job company wide. This is permitted in our policy which usually requires all jobs to be posted in house before being filled.

I sent out an email informing all staff of this change. The email included the language “…(Program Directors name) has determined that the duties of this position can be better carried out by an individual that is a degreed and licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Counselor or an MFT Counselor Intern. These qualifications are particularly important for the Intake process, where clients are outlining the various life issues and challenges they are facing.”

I was out of the office on Friday, two days after the email went out, when the furor erupted. Apparently the outgoing EE was offended by this language because in her mind it inferred that she was doing a bad job. Our Exec Dir spent a good bit of time on Friday listening to this EEs complaints and feelings that I had besmirched her character and ruined her reputation with my comment. She then spent some time counseling me on what a dangerous tool email is and that my good intentions in sending the email were ruined by my poor wording (guilty as charged).

It ruined my Monday and now has me doubting the wisdom of trying to keep this colorful HR hat on my forever black and white head.

Now that is just about enough feeling sorry for myself.


  • 22 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Sorry to hear that, Marc. Is there a softy touchy feely person (like me) there who you trust? Perhaps all you need to do is run stuff like this by them if you ever are unsure what the impact would be.

    On the flip side, I appreciate clear thinkers who can get to the bottom line quickly. It takes all kinds and hopefully your organization has one of each type.
  • Paul hit the nail on the head. If you have a strong Myers Brigg's F on staff (that you can trust) they will spot hurt feeilings a mile away. I can tell you how to spot one. If you want any more info email me.
  • Ah, don't hang up the HR hat, it happens to all of us at one point or another. Learn from it and move on. x:-)

    On a side note, I think the person that's leaving should consider coming back to your operation - as a patient. Build up the self-esteem and sense of worth and all that. BESMIRCHING a character and RUINING a reputation should surely take more than (to use your words)a poorly worded email. Shouldn't it involve some four letter words or sexual references about the person's mother or scandalous words/pictures on the bathroom stall? x}> x;-)

  • I sent out an email informing all staff of this change. The email included the language “…(Program Directors name) has determined that the duties of this position can be better carried out by an individual that is a degreed and licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Counselor or an MFT Counselor Intern. These qualifications are particularly important for the Intake process, where clients are outlining the various life issues and challenges they are facing.”

    I totally agree with the employee who felt your email was a slam to her. I would have felt the same way. Your email (if you sent one at all) should have said: "

    Please join me in congratulating Susan on her decision to do something she's been wanting to do for a long time, enroll in dental hygienist school. Her last day with us will be Friday the 16th. We appreciate her efforts on behalf of The Funny Farm over the past twenty-two months and will miss her contributions."

    Then a separate memo or posting could have followed later regarding the position and its revised requirements.

    BTW: I'm the one who mentioned the HR Kaleidoscope and am adamant about it. x:-)
  • Well now Mr. Don x:'( here I was getting to really like this forum thing and you have gone and hurt my little itty bitty “bean counter” feelings.. I also wear two hats-Accounting and Human Resources. I have worked out a wonderful system though. From 8am to 12 pm I fire up my calculator, sharpen my pencil and kick some money butt-(oops and I clip on my pen protector ) At noon I put away the calculator, pencil & pen protector and I turn into HR DIRECTOR th-up for this task I make sure I have diapers, bottles and lots of lollipops. I say nice soothing things like “oh, I am so very sorry to hear about your car, yes absolutely, I understand how it could have broken down every Monday morning for the last year and caused you to miss work” – Or, “no, I really cannot see how I can justify giving you a raise when you have only been here 2 days” –
    As for letting other people read my memos before they go out, heck no. I look forward to all the e-mails and phone calls I get from management and employee’s questioning my sanity…it makes my day.

    p.s. I spell checked this document, just for you
  • Marc, that's precisely the point we were trying to make. Your intention was to communicate the job requirement changes. Which you did in the least amount of words. Ergo, the black and white we spoke of.
  • I understand that perspective and am usually on target with that aspect. I should have used better wording. The "congratulations and moving on" memo was sent out by her supervisor as well as the announcement of the new person taking her place. Both were standard sorts of announcements.

    I had to get involved because other staff were wondering why the job was not posted internally. I did some research, discovered the reasoning and put out an explanation which included the poorly worded language.

    Now comes the embarassing part. All of this is supposed to be run by me beforehand. I was as surprised as anyone when the announcement was made because I knew nothing about it. The Program Director (from maternity leave) and our Exec Dir (in Scotland on vacation) had been discussing this even before either of them left the office for their leaves and had continued discussing via phone while on leave.

    My first reaction was to rescind the job offer (which had been made and accepted) and follow our normal posting procedure. After discussing the reasoning for the limited posting, I agreed there was enough substance to their reasoning to leave it as it was and just explain to the staff why the opening was not posted in-house.

    I was trying to be supportive to my peers and ended up stepping in the s--t.

    Ah well, our organization is not large enough to afford full-time HR, so we are stuck with me in this position, black and white perspective and all.

    And Don, I knew it was your analogy.
  • I happen to be one of those "touchy feely" sensitive HR types. pretty much anyway. And frankly, although your email could have been worded a little differently, I think the out-going ee is being over sensitive and should grow up. You were communicating information that people needed. You werent intentionally being malicious or hurtful. She should get over it. You have obviously learned to ask someone to review future memos like this for any possible pit falls, and that's that.
  • "You werent intentionally being malicious or hurtful. She should get over it."

    I feel much the same way - but as we all know, when it comes to issues such as these, intentions are meaningless and perception is all that matters.

  • Ordinarily, I ask our Exec Dir or one of our Program Managers to review this type of correspondence. Even though my wife says I am the feeler in our marriage, I do tend to be very direct when communicating via the written word. In this case, my usual reviewers were not available and (sound of final shoe dropping), I was anxious to get out of the office and start a 4 day weekend with family. My marine son is visiting for 10 days and my daughter in New Jersey was here for 4 of them. So I sent the email without the normal review. Lesson learned, or at least reiterated for the umpteenth time.

    That said, I did share the thought that someone had to work a little bit to get offended by the memo, but the wording I used certainly opened that door - which should not have happened.

    Everything seems to be calmed down now (knock on wood).

    Thanks all, for your input and commiseration.
  • Having a compulsion to have your memos and emails proof-read by a second or third party may be yet another reason a bean-counter should not be the head HR guru. Proofreading for typos is one thing. Proofreading for second opinions as to inference, content and ramifications is quite another.
  • That's ridiculous. When my boss writes memos, she runs them by me for inference, content and ramifications. I do the same with my benefits admin and safety coordinator. Quite often another set of eyes on an issue leads to an improved memo. The person that sits in the ivory tower and thinks that their memos do not dare need a look for content, inference and ramifications are the one's with problems.
  • There's quite a difference in having someone take a look at a memo rolling out benefits changes, announcing policies or stating the dates of all holidays for the next twelve months...and, feeling the need to have someone else look at generic memos to give you a feel for how somebody might interpret it or whether or not you've said what you intended to say. Hell, run it up and down the hall and let six others mark it up if it makes you feel more secure with the memo and your timelines afford that sort of paralysis. One day, though, you'll be confident enough to put out an 'original thought' memorandum, all alone. It's not that scarey is it? Maybe Aluminum Boy could proofread them for you too. x:-)
  • Alum Boy proofs them every time. To infer that someone should not be head of HR because they have other people look at their memos is dead wrong, IMHO. I say again that that is what should be done. I have smart people that work for me and I value their opinion. Apparently you don't. Your exaggeration of the scenario (running up and down the hall, etc.) doesn't help me see your point. BTW I have an original thought... I'll have to send you that one in private. x:-8
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 07-14-04 AT 08:24AM (CST)[/font][br][br]That's quite an exaggerated overreaction. I don't think anyone has said a person should not be head of HR if he has memos proofread. However, that revelation plus the plethora of things discussed on the other relevant thread may lead one to that consideration. Read that into it if you like, though. Nor should you read into this who I might or might not have on staff. That's not the point and was not expressed.

    Marc asked for opinions about what occured and what he had done and he had several replies including mine. Stating your own should suffice, rather than telling me mine is ridiculous. By the way, YOU infer from what I said. I don't INFER when I state an opinion. x:-)
  • You said: Having a compulsion to have your memos and emails proof-read by a second or third party may be yet another reason a bean-counter should not be the head HR guru.

    So what did you mean by that statement, if what I infered is not what you intended?

    If someone posts a statement, I can read into it whatever I want and state my opinion regarding it. You quite often do that. It seems that you have issues when someone does it to you.
  • If you are going to behave and comment like AlumBoy, the least you can do is sign in as AlumBoy.
  • I almost edited my last post to say, "Where's Ritaanz."

    Thanks for the complement. I would sign in, but I can't remember my password.

    Seriously, I'm not Alum Boy. I do love to leave that hint of doubt, though. I like to keep people guessing. Have a wonderful day.

    BTW we are not. We are moving 1/2 of our production to Charlotte, NC and needless to say there is a bit of stress here. That may have contributed to the tone of my posts. Anyway, with the forum ending soon, we've got to make the most of our last interactions, right?
  • Forum ending soon????? From that statement would I be correct if I read into it that you are not a subscriber? Can I also form an opinion?

    PS There's no hint of doubt in my mind.
  • From what I know you are quite capable of forming opinions.

    I'm still not sure if I'm a subscriber. I get the law letter, but someone in customer service said I'm not a member. I'll try to log on whenever it ends and see what happens.
  • One of the points me Exec Dir made when we discussed this event was to point out that a company wide email will be read by a diverse audience - each with their own viewpoint and interpretation of that word. One person may completely be in sync with the author while another may get a completely uninteneded message from the words.

    I would point out that this thread shows signs of verifying that even HR gurus can misunderstand what others are trying to say. Here we have a couple of very capable, intelligent, experienced business people who have much in common and appear to be growing a disagreement as to what each has said and meant.

  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 07-14-04 AT 11:42AM (CST)[/font][br][br][font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 07-14-04 AT 11:41 AM (CST)[/font]

    Since I made the suggestion about having a "feeler" type look over a potentially sensitive statement or e-mail, let me clarify. My understanding is that most employee lawsuits stem not from cold hard factual discrimination, harassment, etc but from hurt feelings.

    The employee doesn't feel the organization cares for him/her or respects their feelings or point of view. Resentment fuels the need for vindication and the phone book is full of attorneys ready to take an easy settlement. That is not my own opinion, an attorney who represents employees told me that.

    So ignore feelings at your own risk. If you know you are a black/white, bottom line, analytical type who doesn't understand why laying off someone right before Christmas is a big deal, you better find someone who understands nuances and is in touch with the general morale of your staff and who can honestly and accurately forecast for you the unintended implications of your statements.

    I feel bad for Marc. I can totally understand his e-mail and what he was trying to communicate. The ee may be over-reacting a bit too. Regardless, you seperate facts and feelings and you deal with both. Factually, he was correct in his wording. On the feelings side, he may owe an apology.
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