“You’re my HR friend. Get me a Job”
The majority of the workforce considers the HR department responsible for everything wrong with their organization. An HR manager is Satan spawn, the Devil incarnate, the rotten face of unadulterated, pure evil. Your inflexible work schedule is the HR’s fault. You have too few days off because your HR hates you. Your performance appraisal got screwed because the HR didn’t like your tie. Your promotion will be stalled till the next cycle because the stingy HR isn’t ready to pay you according to the hard hours and backbreaking labour you put in. The poor workers in the factories are being oppressed because the HR doesn’t care about their welfare (this brings to mind the Manesar incident when the Maruti HR was burned alive. He was supposedly on the workers’ side too). Given all this, it’s more than a little ironic that the majority of this piece was written on Labour Day.
How HR is perceived
Now let us try and prepare an identikit for the typical HR professional. It’s going to be female, well-dressed in the latest trendy fashions with copious amount of make-up and perfume you can smell 10 feet away. We’re talking about a glamorous person here, somebody who can use her looks to distract you from the problem or complaint you approached her with and also to draw away attention from the fact that she is basically a bimbo, an airhead who really doesn’t know much and does nothing productive ever. This is a stereotype and it’s a fairly prevalent one. A major cause of the spread of said stereotype is the large number of people employed in the IT giants who encounter such a creature on a thoroughly regular basis. I can vouch for this because I used to be one such person working for a massive software major and pretty much thought all my HR ever did was smell nice and palpitate during the annual appraisal process.
The HR Stereotype
Now I do know that the above stereotype isn’t always an accurate representation of every HR. If you don’t believe me, I’m a budding HR manager myself. I don’t fit any of the above criteria starting with the fact that I’m male. It is still a regrettable travesty that the waifish bimbo described above is present in our organizations in abundance. And they are certainly one of the reasons why HR is considered a lesser stream of management as compared to something like Marketing or Finance, a soft stream, something that often doesn’t offer anything that can be measured or quantified.
These streams have their stereotypes too. Quite often do you imagine an investment banker trading in millions, robbing the poor and stuffing his pockets full. Or the Marketing genius, devising strategy to package and advertise absolute garbage so attractively, you queue up to part with your money because you can’t imagine your life without that product. However, while these stereotypical images are of a somewhat evil, manipulative nature, the HR is merely a symbol of superficiality and incompetence.
Managers. All of them
So congratulations to all those poor souls who like me have chosen HR as their path of destiny. There is going to be enough mockery in store. Enough snide remarks about adding nothing of consequence to the business or the organization. And more than often a moment of self-doubt about our choice. That anorexic bimbo is the standard we will always be compared to until things change and we have to constantly prove that this is not who we are (well not all of us at least). And after a month into my internship as an HR, I think there is hope for us after all. And things can change sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, it’s always wise to learn to laugh at one’s self and one’s own eccentricities. That’s why British comedy is so hilarious. And I feel this applies to all fields of management.
On the bright side, being an HR isn’t all doom and gloom. The job can also have its perks. The moment you announce in a circle of friends or acquaintances that you’re an HR, be prepared for at least a few probing questions on your organization and whether they’re hiring. And you will always, always have somebody ask you whether you can get him/her a job in your organization or know other HR folk who can. Statistically 4.77 people in a group of 10 are likely to ask you about the chances of landing a job in your organization (yes I made up those statistics). It’s called the “You’re my HR friend. Get me a job” syndrome (I did not make up that name. Seriously).
And it can be fun till the time it doesn’t get too annoying. And it gets especially annoying when distant relatives you had no idea existed thus far start calling you and treating you like their pet job portal (hasn’t happened to me but I’ve heard stories). But till then, no harm in being slightly evil and enjoying the attention.
So although the proverbial woods are dark and deep, with many promises to be kept along the way, I for one will continue to take solace in the small victories as I ride along.
Nadeem is currently trying to make sense of Life, the Universe and Everything coming to the end of his first year at XLRI, Jamshedpur and working very hard at his summer internship. He’s also a music lover, master of 3 musical instruments, undiscovered singing prodigy, class jester, wordsmith, and the secret identity of Superman all rolled into one charming package. You can follow him at nadeemraj.insideiim.com
He’s an amateur storyteller at 42shadesoctarine.wordpress.com