Confessions of a benefits manager: Missed connection

The new HR director’s request for a conference call sends Candid into an endless cycle of frustration – and in her own time, too

Every hour at work is an hour when I am not doing something more interesting instead. Therefore, people who cause me to work late and miss valuable party time are in my bad books from the start. What really winds me up is people who don’t seem to be able to turn up for meetings on time – they just work to their own internal random schedule.

Take the new human resources director, who has just been hired in the US to oversee the people stuff for one of our businesses. Like all Higher Beings, especially new ones, he is rushing around trying to make his mark and look important. I have had nothing but data requests from the guy since the day he came in. Then, when I do send him data, he doesn’t read it properly.

I sent him stuff about our incentive schemes in Europe. The documentation is pretty clear, and anyone of limited intelligence should be able to work through it for themselves, but it seems it is a bit of a stretch for an American. He asks me to set up a meeting to take him through it.

I get all my paperwork together and call in at the prescribed hour. No HRD. I shuffle my papers and call again. Still no HRD. I send him a quick email to check that I have the right number but there is no reply.
The next day, I arrange another meeting and, annoyingly, the only time his secretary can find for me is 7pm. She gives me a conference call number, and I suppose I could call in from home, but that means taking the rather bulky folder with me and polluting my home with work toxicity.

So I stay on and catch up on my emails until it is time to call in. I listen to the conference call music for a bit. I don’t know the name of the song, but it is the sort of thing they play in lifts. I have had enough of it already. The song repeats. It repeats again. Still no HRD.

I call his secretary, but she is not there. I call him at his desk, but there is no answer. I email him. No reply. I listen to the music repeat one more time and then I give up, hang up and go home. I mutter several short, pithy words that I don’t use very often.

I am beginning to think a special drive is being implemented to mess up my calendar this month. Not only is this HR director messing me around, but Big Bad Boss has failed to show up for the last three of our one-to-ones and, to cap it off, he left me to handle a difficult pension meeting on my own.

In the morning, I send the new guy a short email describing the incentive schemes and suggest he contacts me if there are any questions. He calls me straight back to tell me he still wants a conference call to go through the schemes in detail. I bite my lip to prevent the expletives coming out. Perhaps he would like to suggest a time that will definitely work for him? I have noticed he is rather busy. He tells me to call his secretary and arrange the call for that afternoon (which is my evening). He slams down the phone. No apology. No thanks. More infrequently used words pop into my head.

His secretary, who surely must have a degree in patience, sets up yet another call for the following Friday. So now, not only am I hanging around after work when I could be doing something worthwhile, I am cutting into my valuable weekend time, too. Instead of going to the pub with my mates, I am dialling into the conference number and listening to that dreadful music again. I listen alone. For a very long time. From my mobile, I dial the HRD’s office and his secretary says he is travelling and she is expecting him to call in. The holding music is really beginning to grate now. After 20 minutes, I give up and go home.

Predictably, I then get a terse note from the HRD asking me to set up yet another meeting. Still no apology. I attempt to arrange this, but the new guy is only free during my evenings. This is getting ridiculous: it’s time to take action. I do set up the call, but with an important difference this time – I invite Big Bad Boss. I tell him that the new HRD wants the history of the plans before I took over, and I need Big Bad Boss to help to answer all the questions. That is not strictly true, but it is all part of a wider plan.

A problem shared is a problem halved, especially if it is shared with someone who has also been dishing out problems themselves. We call in from Big Bad Boss’s office, but the new HRD does not. We both listen to that wretched holding music, the same song playing over and over five times. Big Bad Boss starts to drum his fingers on the desk in time to the beat and look out of the window. It is still light outside and I guess he could have been playing golf this evening.

I rearrange my papers and try to look surprised that the new guy is late. After 20 minutes, we hang up. I leave Big Bad Boss composing a nasty-gram to the HRD’s boss.

Sometimes our Higher Beings just need a little extra training.

Next time…Candid looks at spans and layers.

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