Humor and Humanism in HRM

Human Resource Management (HRM) has assumed tremendous importance during the last few years. I am a HR Professional retired after three decades of experience in all facets of HR function. When I travel down the memory lane over these years, many scenes appear on the landscape of my mind and bring in a smile on my face. To narrate a few:

Distortion in Communication

I had just joined as a HR Trainee in a Multi National Company in Mumbai. One morning, our Gardner Ram Kadam came to me in a very aggrieved mood and told me in Hindi that his “bhai” was drowned in the nearby canal which was flooded after the previous night’s heavy rains. He explained in detail the difficulty in pulling out the dead body from the water as it had bloated after too much intake of water. I condoled him earnestly on his irrevocable loss.

However, I was surprised to find that he was still in the Factory Compound at a time when he was supposed to be busy with the cremation of his brother’s body. I reported the incident to my boss the HR Director, who immediately went out of his’ office to meet Kadam and pay his condolences. After a while, he came back to my office with a smile on his face. He informed me that it was not his bhai who was drowned but his bhais (buffallow) which met the fatal accident. I cursed myself for my poor knowledge of Hindi causing this confusion.

Mistaken Identity

Amita was our new recruit selected from a Prestigious HR Institution after Campus interviews. Her first assignment was to help HR Director in recruitment. She brought in several Tests for selection. Visitors were very few in the factory as it was far away from the City proper. One day she was expecting a candidate shortlisted for an interview. The Receptionist was told that one

Balasubramaniam will come for interview and she should be informed as soon as the candidate arrives. The receptionist promptly informed Amita who was eagerly waiting to administer her newly developed psychological test. He was called in and was seated. Amita told him in detail how to answer the paper and the time allotted. When she handed over the Question Paper and a Pen, the Candidate asked her innocently why he should take a test as he came to see his friend working in our Engineering Division. Gopal – that was his name – also a South Indian was wrongly identified as Balasubramaniam, who subsequently came for the interview

Assumed Authority

I still recollect an interesting incident that happened while I was working in our corporate office. Employees’ Union had just entered the office then. The management was not ready to handle the sporadic incidents threatening the discipline. My friend Prabhakar Rao was a junior Manager looking after the Distribution Department. His Assistant John was the General Secretary of the Union who thought that his work was only that concerns the Union. Rao was not bothered about John’s nonperformance but only about his diminishing authority and ability to influence others in the department to get work done.

He used to call John to his Cabin to have discussion on various subjects other than office work. He told me that once he called John and asked him whether he had seen “Sholay”. John who was not interested in Hindi Movies replied negatively. Rao with a pointed finger told him a little loudly “John, you must see it. It is excellent.” The other Employees looking towards the closed cabin were surprised to see their boss in an aggressive mood dictating to the Union Leader. Rao was displaying his authority to others in his own way to achieve his goal of establishing acceptance of his subordinates.

Right Person at the Right Place

Pharma Company, I was working had many Parsi Employees. Many of them had their surnames derived from Professions or Businesses of their ancestors. We had Doctors, Vakils, Engineers and Daruwallas with us. Incidentally, the Director of our Medical Diison was a ‘Doctor’ not a medical doctor but a PhD in Pharmacology. The Executive Secretary of our Engineering Division was an ‘Engineer’.

On a lighter vein, there was a discussion on our lunch table and a resultant suggestion that Mr. Vakil, our Sales Manager should be transferred to the Legal Department and the HR Department must take the initiative to implement it.

Author Bio: M A Menon is HR Mentor at Ad Astra. You can reach him directly at

This entry was posted in Business Landscape. Bookmark the permalink.

Am I Better ?

A recent article in Staffing Industry Analyst “Yes, I could do my boss’ job better“, talked about a recent Monster survey. In the survey, 67% of respondents say ‘yes.’ And a resounding 33% go as far as saying their boss is totally incompetent.

The article made me sad and a bit scared. I actually don’t think I could do my boss’ job better than she can. We all have different skills and strengths — hers fit her role and mine fit mine. In my 15 years I have seen so many people, both juniors and seniors, who have arrogantly thought that they are better than their boss and have failed miserably even in their job.

So lets quit whining and figure out ways to work together, to capitalize on either others’ strengths and to help our organisations succeed.

Author Bio: Cherian Philip who used to head our Recruitment Process Outsourcing Business.

Cartoon : Copyright with

This entry was posted in Business Landscape. Bookmark the permalink.