Zombie HR

Soccer Mom Zombie
Soccer Mom Zombie

Photo c/o juco

It’s weird. As the HR blogosphere expands with a rush of intelligence, creativity and sensitivity provided by Alison Chisnell and Onatrainagain, among many others, so the more established online HR press seems to be…zombifying. A few days ago @TheHRD drew my attention to this unimaginitive offering on the People Management site about anagrams in HR. This kind of salami wore junk (you figure it out) does nothing to enhance the journo reputation of HR in the online world. I let it pass. Just a blip.

Earlier this week on the HR Magazine website I read about Vance Kearney saying we should ban words like cuts and recession, because they are boring and negative. I’m all for optimism but suggesting we ban words because we don’t like what they mean? I’m not in favour of banning things, of trying to control things by stamping them out. There are better ways to encourage people towards a more purposeful motivating way of working, and banning stuff isn’t one of them. Sticking your fingers in your ears and going la la laaa probably works better.

The next day delivers more pearls of wisdom. This time, under the headline “There’s only one thing worse than an idiot and that’s an engaged and motivated idiot” Kearney knocks engagement, saying it needs more rigour. I don’t agree. For me encouraging a state of engagement is about less rigour not more. Next up we’re recommended to hire people with the biggest brains we can find (I wish he had said so we can feast on them – but he didn’t). There’s more. Apparently, “The world of work has changed. But people still want the same things, they want fascinating work, intelligent colleagues and to play on a team. But the context has changed.” How? No explanation is offered. And then I read evidence of the existence of zombie HR. Kearney goes on to state, “I like employees to be engaged and motivated. I like them to be dead and not dead. I don’t think anyone’s ever tested it.” What!!?? Dead and not dead? True zombie HR! I tweeted about this earlier and @FlipChartFT suggested that the benefit of dead, or zombie employees, may be that they don’t qualify for minimum wage. That may well be the case but honestly, I have no idea what Vance Kearney is on about. Poor reporting at best. See me after school.

I hope this recent slip into zombie HR is short lived. Have you seen any other zombies shuffling about lately?

Neeeeed fresh braaaaiiinnnss!

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

14 thoughts on “Zombie HR”

  1. I rarely disagree with Rick of @FlipChartFT but I don’t see why zombies wouldn’t qualify for the minimum wage. I’d also expect that being a zombie amounts to a disability under the Equality Act 2010 as a physical impairment having a substantial effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

    As a reasonable adjustment you might have to let them feed on your customer’s brains every now and then.

  2. Sounds like a lack of rigour around his speech to be honest. Metrics metrics metrics. And all this talk of people with big brains?? Total garbage im sorry. enron hired an awful lot of people with big brains and looked what happened there.

    Engagement isnt rocket science. Being engaging, as a leader, requires soft skills not hard. In fact, the soft stuff is the hard stuff. Unfortunately, too many leaders are MBA wielding, metric toting, autocratic and oppressive individuals so its no surprise to the fact that the essence of engagement eludes them.

    They can measure it all they like, but they will never find it.

    Great post Doug – thanks for sharing!

  3. Just waiting for the Certificate of Engagement qualification to be offered by the Mr Kearney School of Uselessness next ……………

    You can’t teach engagement, you can’t enforce engagement, you can’t hire engagement, you can’t even remove disengagement.

    All you can do is encourage engagement through example, through culture, through personality, through leadership.

    Zombie HR …. hmmmm …….. there’s few of them here!!!

    1. …and for only an extra $100, the good doctor will sign your certificate and whack it in a nice faux pine frame!

      Encouragement through example. Lovely.

      There may be zombies about the place, the good thing is they don’t shuffle too fast so I reckon you can avoid their vacant stares a long time yet. Thanks Chris.

  4. Today I came across a few L&D Zombies…all that came to mind was the photo on your blog, specifically as I spoke to one particular zombie…a rather sad experience!

    1. Howdy MrAirmiles. Have you ever seen a zombie air steward? It’s a shame and also a true fact that over 90% of zombies are indeed sad. Shame.

    1. Hello Ben, it’s very kind of you to pop by. Most unzombie like. Yes, let’s push on and try to help each other be the best we can. I like it. I’ll take a look at your blog post too – thanks for the link.

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