The Madness of HR Initiatives and What You Can Do About Them as a PMP Project Manager

by Linda Henman, Ph.D.

mad businessmanFrequently I receive notice of a workshop or webinar that another consultant will offer. Since I once belonged to a human resources organization, my name appears on virtually every mailing list on the planet. Today I received an invitation to a webinar entitled “Managing Employees from Hell: Discipline That Gets Results.”  Where do these companies recruit?  River Styx University? Why would anyone put up with employees from hell?  Much less want to take, and I’m not making this up, a class that earns them continuing education credits on the subject?

The promotional email begins with an overview that ensures the listener will learn “Discipline Do’s and Don’ts—Dealing with difficult issues – absenteeism, gossip, loyalty.”  What about arson and the occasional gun fight?

Then, the promotion adds that you’ll learn “Words you should never use in a verbal warning.” Really?  How long is this class?  Can they really name them all?  What about, “You’re dumber than six cans of paint, and we’re going to fire your sorry self if you don’t straighten up and paint right”?  Do they cover that one?

My favorite, however, is the final assurance that you’ll learn “Why employees don’t respond to discipline.”  Now, hold on.  Didn’t you just tell us this is all about discipline?

My approach is much simpler, and I won’t even charge you for this insight.  Don’t let people work in your company that you suspect were hired on a referral from Beelzebub.  When you see bad behavior, address it immediately.  If it continues, fire the person.

I know. I know.  You have HR policies that require you give a verbal warning, and then a written warning, and then a warning that you really meant the first two and will proceed to the next-to-final-we-mean-it warning.  Some agencies, like the Federal Government, have to warn employees that they will be warned!  Doesn’t that explain a lot?

HR is not the boss of any company that I know of, but you sure wouldn’t know that when you see webinars like this.  If you have employees from hell, get rid of them.  Hundreds, if not thousands, of people want those jobs.  Why learn new techniques for keeping a rotten apple that threatens your barrel?  Hire the best and brightest and save time on these webinars.

If you found these tips from Linda Henman, Ph.D. of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at


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