I love San Francisco. It’s a great city to live in, with lots of food, plenty to do, and great places to ride a bike. It also happens to be quite the interesting place for all sorts of reasons. I could point to the Golden Gate Park, numerous museums, beautiful hills and neighborhoods – but I’m not. Instead, I’m going to talk about naked people. You see, SF happens to be a place where it’s legal to be naked, basically anywhere in the city. My neighborhood bus stop is affectionate known as the “buff stop” and of course what would we do without the Barebucks (Starbucks) a couple blocks away. This might be one level of absurdity, but to each their own. The second level of absurdity is this: San Francisco actually felt the need last year to pass a law stating that the naked people could not sit on public surfaces without a towel between them and the thing they happen to be sitting on. When all of this happened, my first response was, “people let their skin come in contact with random foreign objects in public city spaces?” Yeah, I’m the guy that washes his hands at least 20 times a day. The point being that you’d think there are some things you just don’t need to tell people.
This doesn’t always hold true. We’ve all heard of companies where the COE wants to approve every new hire that comes through the door. We in HR know that the CEO adds no value to this, and that after 2 weeks the CEO has stopped to even bother looking at whoever it is s/he is approving. We’ve all heard of companies where VP’s need to approve every compensation increase, again knowing that there is very little value being added except during the major exceptions. Once again, I’m not sure if it’s more absurd for a VP to approve an increase of even one penny, or for HR not to have been a bit more persuasive against it.
It seems to me that all manner of obvious things happen in our organizations – but in this case, we’re doing things that we obviously should not. And we shouldn’t have to create policy to prevent this absurdity, but often the absurdity will happen if we don’t. The problem is that our organizations seem to like creating waste – wasted time and effort. In the case of the CEO, it is also the diagnosis of a far more serious problem: s/he does not trust HR/TA to get the right candidates, nor does s/he trust the manager to hire the right person at the right price. We in HR are sometimes put in no-win situations. Telling the CEO not to approve hires is both something we should not have to do (why is the CEO even thinking about it), but it also can put us in the light of not being serious about cost controls if we’re not careful. Regardless of all that, these are conversations we need to have if we want to be true partners at the executive level.
For the record, I don’t hang out at Barebucks or the Buff Stop.
Also, hoping you realize how long it took me to find an image for this post. :-p