Thursday, October 21, 2004


What's the difference between HR and a bowl of shit? The bowl....

One of the more frustrating aspects of blogging for me is that every once in a while there are some items I'd really love to comment on by virtue of having some inside information, as there have been in the business news for the past couple of days, but in order to protect the guilty (and ye olde paycheck) I've got to hold my tongue. It's impossible to obfuscate the recent items enough (at least while they're still fresh in the news) to safely dissect and dish some dirt. I suppose the trenchant commentary will have to wait a bit (vergeltung ist eine platte besser eseen kalt, after all).

One thing about Respected Employer that bugs me is that due to a reorg, we moved from having geographically-centered workgroups, where people's strengths and weaknesses could be recognized and addressed, and there was relatively efficient resource management. Instead, we've moved to function-focused workgroups which are dispersed all over the map, reporting ultimately to a pompous factotum in a low-cost location whose only function is to trumpet the party line. Anyone who's read this from the beginning knows that I've spoken of my very cool boss upon occasion, however, said cool boss was my boss before the reorg, and while I have tremendous personal loyalty to this person, officially I only have a dotted line report post-reorg. Practically this mattered little, as we worked closely through the post-reorg period, however, even more changes are coming down the pike in the next two weeks, and that means that the pompous factotum will figure more in my professional life.

The pompous factotum is an academic, and has precious little real world implementation experience. He's well published, a scary sign for someone who needs to implement real business solutions instead of elegant technology. And the bigger problem with him is his hatchet man of a resource manager, a gentleman whose qualification for same is that he has some manner of certification in a large ERP system. I've dubbed the hatchet man Dr. Mengele, as he holds the power of life and death over the consultants in our workgroup. Dr. Mengele also sits in a low-cost location, however, he's geographically separated from pompous factotum, a recipe for disaster in effective management (both are lovers of conference calls and instant messaging as substitutes for real personal leadership). And in case you're wondering, I do have a nickname for the pompous factotum, however, it's a play on his name, and keeping with my inviolable rule I have to keep that one to myself. Dr. Mengele is thoroughly divorced from any consulting reality, yet he demands constant obeisance. Little things like inept project management, difficult clients and tools that simply don't work don't matter, as long as he gets his precious little reports and forecasts. He sent out a lovely little message today about our performance evaluations, with plenty of implied threats. Comments about how our performance has to consistently significantly exceed expectations, which of course leads to an interesting discussion of how one rates a group of people all of whom significantly exceed expectations. If you're merely a superstar, you get an average rating and are completely screwed WRT bonus and salary increase. This is one of those people who read Jack Welch's book and bowed down to the gospel of sheer numeric evaluation of resources. After years of watching the ratings process be refined, point blank, it's manipulated. There is no way to objectively assign qualitative numeric rankings to performance. With quantitative rankings, perhaps, say with productivity. But to be brutally honest, productivity is a function of how well the sales guys are doing selling gigs. Perhaps a Turbo Pascal guru isn't going to be as productive as a J2EE guy, but that's a hiring function instead of a productivity function.

Which brings me to another rant, training. It's nonexistent. Oh, plenty of CBTs are out there on our intranet, and very, very few of them are relevant. I well remember one CBT I took a couple of years back that was so out of date it cited EGP as the Internet's core routing protocol. God forbid you'd actually want a real, in-class training session where you'd do something hands-on. Nope. No. Costs too much. I wanted to go to a seminar that Respected Employer was presenting to us on security and privacy, and I was told no. Understandable if there were travel expenses involved. The seminar was to be presented closer to my home than my office is. No expenses whatsoever involved. Rationale? There would be travel expenses. Logic doesn't cut it with pompous factotum and Dr. Mengele. As long as they have obeisance paid to them and you go along with their vision of the program, you're fine. If you aren't part of the clique, well.....

No chiding on Godwin's Law please. I'm in a venting mood today....


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