“Weeding out the wankers” – Part 9

This book can be purchased at: http://ijgbooks.com/weeding.html

Today lets take a look at Chapter 7: “Human Resources: Friend or Foe?”


Lets start this post with a quote from page 95:

“HR folks are decent, hard-working and well-meaning people, but without the proper leadership in their executive ranks, they often become nothing more than tactical administrators.”

Over the course of my career, I have only worked in places where HR people were empowered to do whatever they needed to do to get their job done. Most of those companies were not the size of the places where Ibrahim has worked, so that probably has something to do with his observation.

I have spent the last year re-learning how to interact with companies as an outsider trying to land contracts. This experience has conformed what I already knew from past experience as a hiring manager. HR people that I interacted with over the past year have offered me advice, and replied to my correspondence, but there have been no interviews and their efforts to represent me inside their organizations are completely invisible to me.

From the outside looking in, one can only speculate on the effectiveness of HR.

Several pages later Ibrahim notes something that I have come to firmly believe.

On page 99 Ibrahim writes:

“In team efforts, you need enough super stars to anchor the effort, but more importantly, you need a balanced, cohesive and unselfish machine. Discovering this helped me to understand that my best team-mates were not necessarily the ones that had the highest grades at university.”

I stumbled upon this realization in the early 80’s when teams were being cobbled together to fill the gaps created by a burgeoning tech industry. At the time, there were not enough bodies to fill the outstanding jobs, so graduates with all sorts of degrees were writing software and designing hardware. The ranks of the top ten percentile will filled with people who didn’t get great grades at school and others who didn’t even study the craft.

Ibrahim points out a few pages later that when he has to downsize, he instructs his teams to select who they want to keep, not who they want to get rid of. That approach tends to make the process easier and it is what we have been doing since we were kids selecting players for teams. He also points out that if people are given the choice between downsizing or taking a cut in play, many would select the cut in pay. It’s too bad that more companies don’t take that approach. Although this is a valid point, I can’t figure out what it has to do with human resources.

This is a bigger chapter than most and I don’t want to give away all of the books secrets, so I leave the rest for you to read and end with more words of wisdom from the man who knows how to spot a wanker.

“So if you believe that you are being shafted, leave or risk becoming a wanker.

If you have a new program that makes you feel good but does not increase your reward and recognition, the program is a wanker.

If you are told you are fantastic, you are loved, yet others seem to make more money and get rewarded, look inside first and ask yourself; Am I really as good as I think I am, or am I a dreamer and a wanker? “

I haven’t commented on the other quotes sprinkled throughout the text, but this chapter ends with a quote from John F. Kennedy that is particularly appropriate.

“Often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

How true…

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