Thursday, April 28, 2011

HR = Headache Redoubled

One of the things I've been dragged kicking and screaming into at the university where I work is to serve on search committees for new faculty, our department chair, and the dean of the business school. I've been around enough blocks to know that if you do a good job on something you keep getting tapped to do more, while if you screw up you eventually get left alone. However, these are people we'll have to be working with (or for) over the next several years, so I thought it prudent to do what was necessary to ensure we got the best individuals available.

The downside is that the administration has taken note of my participation in hiring initiatives, and in their infinite wisdom decided that I would benefit from additional training on how to hire people. Never mind that I did a fair amount of hiring at entry, mid-manager, and senior levels in my corporate life, and have served on multiple faculty search committees at three different institutions of higher education. The good folks here have decided that I need to take a standardized on-line training course in "Effective Hiring Practices."

If you've ever taken an online training course (for example, the defensive driving course you take if you get a speeding ticket) it's obvious that their only purpose is to allow the administration to check off the "trained in" box to satisfy regulators and in-house attorneys. Below are some direct quotes from the alleged 'training' course I was forced to take. Keep these in mind next time your hear about the high cost of college education.
The purpose of a job description is to "provide a defensible basis for the hiring process and decisions."
Similar to the defensive practice of medicine that does nothing to help the patient, but rather protects the doctor/hospital from malpractice lawsuits.
"Be careful not to set minimum qualifications too high as this might unduly limit the applicant pool."
Also known as affirmative action. God forbid we should set high standards when hiring.
"The Position Description describes job functions ... and may be divided into essential and non-essential duties."
The problem with this one is pretty obvious. If the duties are non-essential, why on God's green earth are they part of the job?
"It is not appropriate to ask former employers about the applicant's history of violence."
WTF? We can't even ask if the guy gal person (see, I did learn something) is a serial killer or ax murder? Maybe we can approach it in a roundabout way and ask if there were the same number of employees alive when the applicant left as there were when s/he was hired.
"Criminal history information obtained from the Texas Department of Public Safety or third party vendors should be destroyed as soon as the position is filled. However, criminal history provided by the candidates should be retained for two years..."
So if we get it from an outside agency we can't keep it on file, but if we get the same information from the applicant we not only can, but should, retain it? That makes about as much sense as any other government regulation.
"It can be tempting to view employment laws in a negative way, such as 'If I say something wrong I could get sued'."
Well no shit, Sherlock. Can there be any other reason for all this administrative crap?

Saints preserve me from administrators and lawyers...

1 comment:

Harper said...

And yet, we are supposedly an "at will" employment state!

If you really want to have some fun, take the state's open meetings act online training. Here's a hint I shouldn't divulge...there is nothing that stops you from skipping the video and just printing out the certificate of completion.