Mata HaRi, the incognito human resources professional who nourishes this column with precious insider insight, was in a very foul mood on the phone. I had called her earlier this week to ask her what was new in the world of office culture, human resources and personnel management. (Our call is a fortnightly ritual that is undertaken in utmost secrecy—handkerchiefs over the mouthpiece, code words and aliases—to ensure that her identity is never revealed.)
“This emergency is driving me mad Hrithik!” lamented HaRi using my alias for the day. “I don’t know how I am going to handle so many cases simultaneously!” For a moment I panicked, thinking there had been some form of flu outbreak in her office. I quietly placed an extra hankie over the mouthpiece.
“Swine flu? Nonsense! Swine flu is nothing compared with the problem I am facing, dude,” she began in explanation. “In a week’s time, a dozen campus hires are going to join us and I have absolutely no idea what I am going to do with the little rascals.”
Indeed, if the month of May is upon us, can graduate engineers and management trainees be far behind? Soon, many of you readers will find your offices overwhelmed by bright-eyed, bushy-tailed kids in brand new formal wear, all eager to make their mark in the corporate world.
Full of the wisdom of books and the enthusiasm of youth, these new hires will soon be popping their heads into your cubicle with a thousand questions: “Hey! How do I connect to the wireless network?” “Who takes care of staff mobile phone connections?” “Which button gives tomato soup?” “Do we have a social media marketing strategy? No? Let me explain…”
So much so that many of these new hires become notorious for their extreme eagerness to impress the powers that be. Unfortunately, the top management, instead of seeing them for what they really are—upstarts who must be banished with long rural marketing stints, preferably in Naxal-infested areas—holds them up as role models for the aggression that is lacking in the firm.
“This is the sort of thinking that can make this company great again,” the CEO will gush in a mass email, referring to Kunal the trainee who just taught him how to upload Beyonce into an iPod.
HaRi, though, had more basic issues to grapple with: “I need to arrange for workstations, computers, phone connections, salary accounts, email IDs and orientation sessions. All this was so much easier when business was up. We’d all go to Goa, participate in team-building exercises involving beer on the beach and then give away T-shirts.”
The next few weeks would then pass by uneventfully, HaRi explained, as the children uploaded the Goa pictures on Facebook and then blogged about it. “This gave me so much more time to figure out what to do with them. But now, that is all gone to the dogs,” she spat with fury.
The slump had meant no more budgets for lavish orientation trips and picnics, and HaRi had to somehow recreate Goa in the confines of a gloomy conference room. And instead of beer and all-day breakfast, she was armed only with PowerPoint, tea and glucose biscuits.
But all was not lost. I reminded HaRi that the perilous employment market could make her job a little easier. With campus recruiting plunging and little to be found in the open market, perhaps this year her fresh hires would be a little easier to handle. In fact, they should be immensely thankful that HaRi’s company even hired them at all.
Which is when your columnist had a brainwave: Why not take HaRi’s damp squib orientation presentation, a liability in her eyes, and turn it into an asset? Why not use the opportunity to strike fear into the hearts of her new hires? All HaRi had to do was to convey the right message to them, through some subliminal messages in her slide show.
After a few emails back and forth, we came up with a rough draft. The various section headings of Mata HaRi’s presentation will be as follows:
1. Welcome new recruits!
2. A moment of silence in remembrance of your friends from college who remain unemployed
3. Introduction to our company
4. Brief profiles of key employees and top management
5. Brief profiles of employees laid off last year due to downsizing
6. Overview of potential job profiles for new recruits
7. Interaction with CEO, who will speak about career growth plans
8. Fun assignment: Recruits will read a real life termination letter recently issued by the firm to a senior vice-president and calculate the total severance paid to the concerned employee. (Answer: Rs732.)
9. Optional Q&A session
10. Tea and biscuits
Cubiclenama takes a fortnightly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org