Harry worked in a building that was four stories high and home to four significant operating divisions that together made up about a $1 billion global manufacturing business. All the manufacturing locations were spread world-wide. It was headquarters then for the business, about 400 professionals and managers in the building, and Harry was the headquarters HR manager. In your wildest imagination, you can’t imagine the complexity of the job.
One of the key roles of the HR Leader, Harry, was of course to drive the importance of and practices that supported good employee morale. That required Harry’s diligent and constant monitoring, making sure that the operating divisions treated employees in the building consistently. However, as was the case, each division head, a corporation vice president, liked to do things their way so Harry’s job was, as they say, like herding cats, high level cats, with fiefdoms! And, egos to match! Although it may defy logic, some chose to treat their employees differently, without considering the impact across the building.
One example of the type of issue that Harry dealt with: One of the VP’s decided that flex time would be nice, and never talked to Harry. The VP implemented it and the fact that his fiefdom had flex time and no one else in the building did traveled like wildfire through the building, via email and the watercooler networks. Harry had a line outside his office. “Why do they have it? We don’t have it! We want it? Who’s in charge here?” Unhappy employees, pissed off managers. Mess!
So there is Harry, with significant employee issues surfacing like dead fish. At times Harry found himself on the receiving end of perverse humor that found its way to his desk from the deep, dark, mysterious depths of the building.
In the office, Harry is going through his internal mail, opens an envelope, and finds a piece of toilet tissue stapled to a handwritten note on an 8.5 x 11 piece of printer paper.
“Harry, this is a headquarters building. This is a professional environment. This is a billion dollar business running manufacturing concerns world-wide. So I’m in the building pooper this morning, doing my thing. In the process of ‘cleaning up’ afterward, my finger goes right through the wafer thin toilet paper provided in the stall! I now have a finger full of %!*?# ! Paper thin! It’s so thin you can see through it. You wouldn’t buy this stuff for your family, why would you expect us to use it. Please upgrade!”
In the building cafeteria, the same day, Harry, looking a bit down. He is seated with several building professionals and one asks Harry “How is it going?” Harry: “Sometimes I just can’t believe this job! I have huge issues and I get an internal note from some fool complaining about the toilet paper”! As Harry related the detail, the table lost it, the culprit was there, clearly guilty to all, and the laughter just got worse.
Harry laughed too!
***** S&E *****