12 January 2015

Readers Response to December Bogan Rant

Readers Response to December Bogan Rant Readers Response to December Bogan Rant Readers Response to December Bogan Rant

Human Resources - Empire Building & Hidden Agenda Ninjas

As promised, I am publishing responses made to the last "Bogan Rant".

The response was astronomical to say the least - it certainly did raise debate. I was absolutely blown away with the emails (over 320 responses) and phone calls. To the anonymous caller who rang 9 times throughout the day, yelled expletives and hung up - have some respect you clown.

Many phone calls from HR professionals wanting to discuss and who agreed in principal, but interestingly, not many phone calls from HR who disagreed - they all sent impersonal emails or unsubscribed from the newsletter after reading the article - the harsh reality and truth often hurts, so it's easiest to distance themselves from the problem - easy, unsubscribe from the newsletter!!!

Here are some of the responses:

Your recent Bogan Rant stuck a chord with us and certainly caused a stir. You are right. We had existing concerns regarding the size and dysfunctionality of our HR department. Your use of the term "Empire building and hidden agendas" is accurate in our case. Your article caused a heated debate, an impromptu meeting and resulted in our HR department reducing by 40%.

General Manager / COO - Mid Tier

Your Bogan Rant initially deeply offended me, but I re-read the article and absorbed the content and message you were aiming to deliver. I realise I am not one you refer to, so reflected on my +26 years within the mining industry. The last 10 years has seen a monumental rise of internal HR departments. This was, in the main, due to the significant company and subsequent manning level expansions during the extended "boom" times and desire to reduce agency costs by taking on the process internally.

In my last and current position, we assessed the technical capability and general functionality of our internal recruiters and the results in both cases were as expected. They were not as technically capable or experienced to accurately screen, identify and shortlist candidates as the relevant Line Manager, or someone like yourself who has worked in the industry as a Geologist.

The result, as you know, is that we significantly reduced the size of our HR and recruitment team and put out a tender to take on 3 preferred external agencies to assist with our recruitment process. The result has been fantastic. We still keep agency costs down, but manage to source a broader spectrum of candidates through our agency partnerships.

General Manager - HR

From your blog rant: "so heavily slanted towards behavioral based interrogation":

SO TRUE!! Had an interview with a consultancy last month. They are small in size and have no real HR function but all the management are ex large company/Gov't and the entire interview was "what would you, how would you" etc. Over 1.5 hours, they didn't test me technically at all and I didn't get the position…..

Senior Project Geologist

... Geologists are a different breed, and that's why I'm not getting off this roller coaster ride and will wait for the next one.

With about 18 years of experience in the bush, either in forestry, mining, mountaineering, and geological exploration I've given up on trying to get a job with a companies that use a "generic" HR department or unskilled recruiters to find candidates.

Why would I work with a company that can't even hire proper recruiters that can recognize the connection between various types of experiences potential candidates may have?

Too many companies focus on finding the ideal "expert" for a role without wondering if they will adapt to the country/culture/environment they'll be facing every day. You can teach new rocks and mineral deposits to a good Geologist much faster than you can teach them how to adapt in the Arctic or the African jungle.

I could also rant about communication problems and people trying to learn a new language... I say: get a guy or gal that speaks the lingo and teach him/her the geology!!

Exploration Manager

Good on you Bogan for calling it as you see it (and experienced it too by the sounds…)

Some organisations may still see mining employees as "transitional" and therefore always looking for that golden pot at the end of the rainbow; they may well allow HR to have the initial and final say in the employment of a person (without the appropriate experience and technical expertise). A good panel would create a mix of questions which are relevant to the position and include the interviewees' manager, maybe a peer, supplier (if appropriate) and of course the obligatory HR rep.

I have also witnessed a senior manager making a call on the "right person" for the job by not going with the panel's recommendation….And that was an epic fail too!

Principal Mining Consultant

I have been a huge fan of your rants for some time. You aim to educate the industry and predominantly say what we're all thinking. Your HR rant was all true and I dare say not many will disagree with you. How to fix this problem will be the interesting next step! The downturn is causing us all to look at our efficiencies, so the "problem" might well sort itself - we can only dream! Keep up the good fight. You might say what we all think and I dare say you offend people by doing so, but your intentions are pure and passion cannot be questioned.

Director Operations

I could not agree more with your recent rant regarding HR. The last 3 companies I have worked for have been frustrating. HR have over complicated the interview process and it got to the point in my current position that no technical questions were asked in the initial screening interview! Is that not when we need to determine both technical AND cultural fit? Suffice to say after many tantrums by management, we're now "allowed" to be involved in the initial interviews by HR. This has reduced the interview process to 1 (not 2) to be followed by a site visit for the final shortlisted applicants. We have also allowed you (Stealth) to add a few resumes to our list of candidates to provide alternatives! I think we're headed in the right direction now and a lot of this is due to your rants. Thanks Bogan.

Manager Mining

Bogan, or should I say "Michael" and you hide behind that ridiculous alter ego. I am one of those ex-agency recruiters who was made redundant by several agencies and ended up securing an internal recruitment role with a reputable mining company a few years ago. I don't see myself as a failure and was greatly offended by your article. I don't believe that you act in the best interest of both parties as you do need to make a living. So hiding behind your ethical and moral high grounds is absolute BS and I don't buy it. As a result, I and the team here have and will continue to do all I can to block any involvement from recruitment agencies, in particular Stealth.

Recruitment Advisor

 ....Part of the response to Recruitment Advisor from Stealth: "You were made redundant (let go) from the agencies due to poor performance and attitude. To that, with respect, I rest my case…… In regards to blocking the involvement of external agencies, that's fine. I respect that and all companies are entitled to do as they please. Business is business, but your reasoning is flawed. However, I will not enter into further debate about that as we both have our opinions. However, I do know, for a fact, that your turnover of technical staff has been over 41% in the past 2 years on average! Before you accuse me of making that up, look into it. Why is this? I know why. You and your recruitment department have been doing the screening and hiring predominantly Muppets! They've been a mix of technical failures and predominantly cultural fit failures…………I do appreciate your feedback and hope I can alter your opinion of agency recruiters - we're not all the same. All the best."

Bring back the days of letting Accountable Managers manage the process of hiring with the assistance of HR/Recruiting staff. 

Manager Mine Geology

Your "HR Bogan Rant" touched a chord with me as I have had dealings with all facets of the HR spectrum over my years in the industry and been left feeling extremely underwhelmed by the experience. I have been witness to the beginning of the HR revolution and I, along with the vast majority of my peers, have very little time for it.

I totally agree with everything you said and would go as far to say that the HR Industry have created the perception that we need them, they have insinuated themselves into every modern industry and are nothing but a self-perpetuating and self-aggrandizing group of individuals (in general). In my dealings with them I have had one positive experience which I put down to the individual who was professional in every sense of the word, unfortunately there are not more like her.

As a newly appointed Mining Superintendent, I was responsible for EVERYTHING that happened in my department. Then along came HR to "help". At first I welcomed the 'help" until it became very apparent that the only people they were helping was themselves. I had more problems with my staff than ever as their solutions were never more than average.

After my recent and very enjoyable sabbatical was over and I decided to re-join the workforce. I went through the grinder that is the "Recruitment" industry and was again filled with promises and BS that has left me very sceptical as to the value these people add to our industry. Again, there have been the odd standout as they cannot be tarred with the same brush. They are however, few and far between. I agree that we as frontline management need to heavily vet the process in order to get the right person.

Production Manager

Empire building and hidden agendas as per your Rant wording, have been very much the order of the day as a small collection of Muppets in senior positions destroyed a company I was recently involved with. I am a reasonably strong willed character and I told the new management what they didn't want to hear in regards to the way they were conducting their new business, stating it would result in closure in 5 years. It was intimated in return that I did not know what I was talking about and perhaps in retrospect they were correct as it took them about 6 and a half years before they closed the doors.

Project Manager

Funny thing on the rant; (Large organisation) are currently undergoing a HR "Transformation" where they are carving the locus of power and shifting anything transactional overseas, putting training back to the operational teams and basically reducing onsite services greatly. They still obviously tell us what to do when it comes to disciplining people, what I can pay them (even though it is in the budget), how I have to recruit (mandatory interviews for any internal candidates) and whether I can internally promote (e.g giving a bogger operator a jumbo role because they have done the right thing by the company).  

Don't get me wrong, I like some of the HR people and it is helpful to have a good relationship, but it can be frustrating internally too!

Mine Planning Superintendent

Thanks for the monthly read - you are the only one I have ever read - and I will admit it's purely due to the picture with the mullet.

What can anyone say about HR in general. My personal experience is that technical know-how and sheer hard work are no match for being "bestest" buddies with the higher up that is making the HR decision.

Having the most knowledge on the entire site about the companies CMMS, building the entire sites maintenance regime and generally improving every aspect of work management done on site (and consulted out to other sites) has no bearing when you are interviewing against the guy the manager had over for a BBQ on the weekend.

Nepotism and cronyism, rule in the HR world - regardless of best fit for the company or its share-holders. I live in the hope that someday this will not be the norm.

Senior Maintenance Planner

Accountability is the key word but not HR accountability, personal and direct executive management accountability.

If selecting and skilfully utilising the best people is not the executives core job, then organisations are doomed to mediocre performance or worse. To me this is the very crux of the problem. To most a HR department is a HR department but to executive management it's primarily a career insurance department. If the staff don't work out then it's not the executives responsibility, HR got it wrong, and if HR got it wrong the actual people at HR didn't get it wrong, the procedures/ systems they use were wrong and need modification.

Ultimately, this is all just typical nervous human nature and nervousness is rife during busts. I have never been able to play the "game" but also have never been smart enough to beat it. So, the battle between integrity and practicality rages away and I'm jealous of those that don't fight this battle within themselves .

I wholeheartedly congratulate you on wearing your irritation on your sleeve. It's the sign of a genuine and passionate human, but where to from here?

What are the solutions? Perhaps this is what the readership is specifically asked to make a contribution about. Together maybe "we" can be smart enough.

Exploration Manager

You are spot on about how the HR business within the Mining/Resources industry is slanted. It seems not many within HR in the mining companies have many clues about what the technical requirements are for different roles. This is critical when it comes to the initial stage of trying to create a short-list of candidates. Unless you can pre-empt what these HR are looking for, you have very little hope of getting a foot in the door in this economic environment where there are a million candidates for each role that is advertised.

What has made life harder for the likes of yourself is that there have been so many recruiters with NFI when it comes to trying to sort the wheat from the chaff. All they have done is gone off the checklist that the equally clueless mining co. HR Muppet has provided and shamelessly spruiked for "World class opportunities" with an "Employer of choice" in trying to lure whoever they think can fit the bill, and claim their commission in the process. Where this process falls down is that all that is rewarded is whether a potential candidate ticks all the boxes, and not the crucial element of WHETHER THE PERSON CAN DO THE JOB OR NOT.

The turnover aspect would have been accurate in less challenging climates where opportunity abounds in the neighbouring green paddock. I think an even scarier phenomenon is occurring right now, where THE MUPPETS ARE STAYING PUT either because of a lack of opportunity elsewhere, or because they fear being found out as being incompetent/they are comfortable in their own little rut and wish to ride out the bad times. And what does this do?? It creates a culture of laziness and incompetence that becomes a anchor on morale and productivity. Not to mention the expensive drag this has on the business and the competent people surrounding these MUPPETS who are engaged in damage control and team a*se covering as much as they are trying to keep their own act under control. The  thing that you may counter this claim is "Surely these people will get found out during any downsizing or redundancy process". But who makes the decisions on who stays and who goes??? THE SAME HR MUPPETS WHO CREATED THE PROBLEM IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!! GO FIGURE…

There is definitely a bigger picture that needs addressing from all the different stakeholders in this game, but I can't see how mining companies can honestly look at themselves in the mirror and think they are going a "good job" when there are so many fundamental flaws in the way that they operate that have such a major impact on the effectiveness of their business.

Senior Mine Surveyor

I just missed out on a contract job because the recruiter thought I was too senior - despite the fact that I was happy to do it for junior rates and probably a lot more attuned to standing next to a drill rig in a remote part of the world with few creature comforts.

Senior Exploration Geologist

Readers, if you have read them all and got this far, congratulations. I said I'd post responses. I'm always keen on your thoughts and feedback.







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