Lack of recognition is an HR tragedy

During recent times, Guru has turned his hand to Shakespeare in an attempt to make pensions a more sexy subject. Shortly after, this e-mail dropped through the proverbial letterbox from disciple Fay.

Dear Guru,

The Shakespearean pension crisis really made my day. I have a terrible fear, bordering on phobia, of paperwork – must have had a near-drowning experience in my past. Ballsofbras had me weeping with laughter,

Thank you

She even kindly signed it Ophelia – to which Guru must reply: “Get thee to a nunnery!”. In modern English, this translates as: ‘Shouldn’t you be working?’

Forsooth! Guru needs no further enticement so he turned his hand to another great tragedy of our time that needs more publicity – lack of HR recognition.

This cautionary tale should make board members more wary of their behaviour towards the HR function. Behold! Macbeth (or the Scottishr Play).

Act 1: Hostile Takeover

The scene opens with the Three Witches predicting: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair: hover through the fog and filthy air”.

No-one’s quite sure what’s going on at this point, but it turns out they are just compensation and benefit specialists. They start talking about “Eye of newt, and toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog.” These are common forms of medieval remuneration.

Soon Macbeth pitches up. He’s Thane of Glamis and entrusted with a lot of people management issues seeing as he’s got an army at his disposal. But he wants the top job and is feeling very unappreciated by Duncan, who is king/chief executive.

Act 2: Making Redundancies

Macbeth decides that navel gazing is in order. Having stared long enough, this is where he stabs King Duncan. Duncan’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, then flee to England and Ireland. This is the first reported case of offshoring in history.

Macbeth is crowned king and sets about establishing a management culture that is nothing short of autocratic.

Act 3: Further Dismissals

More ramblings from the witches mean Macbeth is rather unsure of his succession planning. They say Banquo (who with a name like that must be in finance) will have descendants who will be kings. So, wantonly ignoring statutory dismissal procedures, Macbeth has Banquo assassinated. His son Fleance…errr…flees. Serious skills gaps threaten the organisation.

Act 4: Family Unfriendly Rights

Then it gets a bit complicated, as the witches predict: “None of women born shall harm Macbeth”. This leaves the new king a bit confused, and also brings up a raft of issues about maternity leave.

Lady Macbeth starts going bonkers – tortured by her guilt at persuading Macbeth to kill Duncan. But it’s too late for a CSR agenda, the damage is already done. She soon resigns – permanently.

Act 5: When Shall We Three Meet Again?

Our irate hero Macbeth soldiers on – as HR is wont to do – safe in the knowledge that he won’t be defeated until Birnham wood comes to Dunsinane (his castle).

But he can’t see the wood for the trees, and Macduff brings his soldiers to battle covered in foliage. Again, we see innovative HR practices taking shape as adventure training for staff is given a trial run.

It turns out that Macbeth is done for. Despite the witches’ warning, Macduff explains that he was born by caesarean section (thus was not ‘of woman born’), and so is perfectly placed for a hostile takeover of his own.

So let this be a cautionary tale to finance, sales, IT and marketing directors everywhere. People management is key if you don’t want “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, [to creep] in this petty pace from day to day” at your company.

Next time: Othello – a cautionary tale about diversity policies.



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