Thursday, September 24, 2009

REALLY Glad I Wasn't Interested

For a little over a year now, I've been providing HR consulting services to a fairly well-known company. A brief recap; this came about because a guy I used to work with in a former life contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in doing mostly compensation reviews on their prospective hires, as well as a few projects. After a bit of soul-searching and considerable encouragement from Mr. B, I decided to give it a whirl.
The first few months were pretty busy, mostly with getting up to speed on the organization and reviewing salary offers. There was a bit of project work but not much. Initially, I drove to their facility (located an hour and a half one way from here) once per week for a day (doing, really, the same thing I did while at home but they were interested in face time). During one of those visits, my pal (their top HR person) pulled me aside and asked me if I'd consider taking his job because he was going to leave HR and go into sales.
There were many reasons why I said no: Too far to drive every day. I knew it would end up being a 60+ hour a week job (not including the commute) and I'd been there, done that and burned out and walked away once already. I was concerned about leaving Lucy alone that much. The HR guy's boss (Hyper Dude) would drive me insane. I didn't care for the environment (HR people in cubicles? Give me a break. No privacy). I wasn't certain I agreed with the culture OR could influence it. In the end, though, the primary reason turned out to be quite simple. I didn't WANT to do it.
I continued to provide support to them off and on and to keep in loose contact with the HR guy, who, despite his statement that he was going to go into sales, remained in place. Due to the economy and probably a few other factors, things began to slow down after the first of the year. However, just when I'd think the gravy train had arrived at the station, someone from the HR department would get in touch with me and request assistance with a new project or a few salary offers would trickle in. Case in point, a few weeks ago, they asked me to conduct a offer decline survey on the roughly 50 or so folks who had declined their job offers in the past year (frankly not a terrible number given how many offers they made).
Although the work for this company never turned out to be anything really exciting, I'm not complaining. They agreed to my hourly rate and have been reliable in paying my invoices in a timely manner. I've learned a bit about doing consulting work and even more about myself as I've flip flopped back and forth regarding whether I want to do more of it and what that would involve. Not to mention, this gig has paid for several things that we might not have otherwise done (e.g., vacations and a sprinkler system), has allowed us to pad our savings account a bit and has kept Lucy and the Pussycats in kibble and cat chow (ok, ok, I'm sure we could have paid for this, anyway!)
So, yesterday, I get a really odd email from one of the employees (not my pal) in the HR department asking me if I would be available to go down there this coming Monday to sit in on a six hour meeting with the HR department and another consultant, followed by a one on one meeting with the CEO. This seemed weird to me. I mean, I haven't been on site in almost a year (I think the last time I went down there was mid-October 2008) and, other than necessary involvement regarding offers, I've not had much at all to do with anyone in HR except my pal (and not even him all that much).
I got in touch with him to ask, in a nice way, "What the...? This doesn't seem appropriate to me".
He said, "Right on target. Just make up an excuse why you can't come on such short notice". He then went on to tell me that the CEO has decided HR needs a review, he's not happy about what they are doing (or not doing), he's never satisfied, he's never run an organization, he has no clue, he's fired 10 managers so far this year (including Hyper Dude), he thinks he can do whatever he wants, he thinks if he puts your name (meaning mine) down as the HR person, that you'll simply show up (HUH?), etc.
My pal is a seasoned HR professional. Yeah, he might not run things the way I would and he may be a bit scattered, but, heck, he knows what he's doing. The company, if I haven't mentioned, is Japanese and there have really been some tough cultural barriers that my friend has run up against and it's become too much for him (and, apparently, the CEO is gunning for a way to get rid of HIM).
Sales job? Never happened. Another HR job? Economy sucks. So, he's treading water.
Hey, I don't want ANYTHING to do with this. For all the reasons I mentioned earlier, I have no designs on his position nor do I want to participate in this particular witch hunt.
So, I won't and that's that and I wish him all the best and hope he lands on his feet.
This strange situation just highlighted how very, very glad I am that I didn't get sucked into that environment as I know now I WOULD have been absolutely miserable.
Mrs. B