Thursday, August 12, 2010

Human Resource Management Concepts - My Dual Life

The events of this week has clearly showed me that I live two lives.  (Three if you count my blogging presence).

On Tuesday  as I drove into the office I listened to the local Black talk radio station as they talked about the economic crisis among so many Black Americans.  I heard people talk about going to Africa to escape White supremacy, Black people being in a "damaged state" due to centuries of slavery.  I even heard the White Republican governor of Georgia being referred to as "Satan".  This on a station that would never allow such comments to be made against the current president.

On that same morning I arrived in the office to attend a day long management meeting.  In the large corporation that I work with one portion of the account team appears to be at odds with another portion of the account team as they work to sell our wares into the large corporations who's names would be readily apparent to you if I told you.  Through a series of conflicting upper level management priorities given to each of these players and some turn over which inserted some "less than seasoned" people into place.

With millions of dollars in sales and the corporate image on the line the company called in a management consultant to bring all sides together to work out a solution to the conflict.

In these two worlds that I live in I see "equal human beings" - each with skills and flaws.  Education and money provide the key distinguishing purpose between these two groups.

In the corporate setting both of the two waring groups were asked to divide into their respective teams and fill out a "Post It Note" in answer to the following question:

  • What is the other team failing to do that you need them to do?
After about 2 hours of ripping the other team - they put their grievances in writing and ordered them by importance and then put a number grade beside them.    

After the teams got back together each read out the list of priorities and ratings for the other.  Then they developed a joint set of corrections by which they would work together in the future to correct the problem.
What is merely a list of promises on paper will turn into a real world change as the managers who's jobs are on the line for the production of all of the people in the meeting work to enforce these commitments over time.  
Yes - Me - the only Black American in the meeting said to the Sales VP - "All of these points are just words unless we have some follow up over time to insure that everyone is bound to what we have agreed upon today".  She agreed and largely repeated my comments.

As I consider the dysfunctional behavior that is too often seen in the SCLC, the Clayton County board of commissioners and other bodies that are known to fight each other at the public's expense - there is nothing that distinguishes what I saw in the corporate world among the largely White group of individuals who have the same combative and self-interested tendencies.

In the comparative analysis between the two worlds that I exist within I see that the tools that are used for conflict resolution are replaced by strong arming and popularity enforcement in the other.  What might gain the victor advantage in the short run, imperils the whole in the long run.

  • There is a basic necessity to "fire" people who are not performing.
  • Prior to this accountability one must define the parameters for performance that someone who is entrusted with resource management responsibilities is expected to live up to
  • There must be some transparent means of measuring the effective outcomes that have been delivered
With regard to the local talk radio station much of what they are complaining about are not intrinsic to "Blackness".  Instead their lack of a management and resolution infrastructure causes them to "transact upon the inferiority and damaged state" of Black people in order to gain cover for their own actions.  

There was nothing magical that I saw in the corporate world on that day.  While indeed there was access to more resources than what is available in the other domain - the truth is that everything that we agreed to was basic communication and conflict resolution.  The fact that everyone in the room ultimate could be fired and lose their livelihood added to their willingness to work together.

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