Tuesday, March 31, 2009

530 The HR Deptartment

530 The HR Department

Anyone who works in a company that has one will be quick to agree and most HR professionals will huff and puff and feign insult. But facts are facts.  And there's a terrible disconnect between what a company does and its personnel department.  The HRs don't know what goes on beyond the world of hiring and firing and the mounds of paperwork that goes along with it.

So who picked Rick Wagoner as the head guy at General Motors?  His reign was a disaster.  The stock dropped by more than 90 percent since his elevation to the chair at the head of the table.  And the company's market share fell from about 28 percent to about 18 percent.

So the real head of HR, Barack Obama, fired Wagoner, a big and available target of opportunity to put a face on the failure of this once great industrial power.  Don't be feeling too sorry for Little Ricky.  He's 56 years old and leaves with a $20 million retirement package.  That's a million a year if he lives to 76.  And he did fail.  And so is the company.

But throwing the guy out the door without notice (and without severance,) is, well, gauche.  Wagoner humiliated himself adequately by his actions and inactions over the course of his tenure.   There was no need for a quick public execution.  Should he have been canned?  Certainly.  But let the guy do it with a little grace.  He may be the wrong guy for the job.  But he's still a human being.

Which brings us back to the Human Resources industry.  Personnel used to be a side issue, a support function.  But it's grown into a monster and often the tail that wags the dog.  Personnel policy has become a world of its own, often a world run and populated by Masters of Business Administration (who confuse themselves with Masters of the Universe.)  At GM, they declined to put a car guy in charge of the car company.  Instead, they put in a Harvard MBA.   The good ole "B's" network.

The New CEO?  Fritz Henderson, five years younger than Wagoner.  But they have at least one thing in common:  A Harvard MBA.


Shrapnel:

--Merrick NY gets goats.  They've been hired to cut the grass at a park.  The same community recently hired a border collie to keep geese off a golf course, and that worked, so why not this.

--Merrick, my home for about 40 years, is the model for Moote Pointe, NY.  It is a place where all the fast food joints were built in a row.  And they are all served by a joint pipeline that provides supplies of fats and cholesterol (but no trans fats!)

--And Merrick is where we'll be heading late next month.  A reunion.  And, of course, a chance to scope out the goats, the dogs, the geese and the cholesterol pipeline.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

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