Accentuate the Negative

Accentuate the Negative

I don't want you, I don't need you - and now I can make you walk out that door (at least if I have fewer than 100 workers)

"Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me . . . "

What a noble and splendid declaration. (Just in case it doesn't ring a bell with you, it sits at the base of the Statue of Liberty in the country of my birth, if not my affiliation: the US of A.) And while it certainly is a generous sentiment for a country, it's perhaps not quite so appropriate for a company.

Yet according to an AFR story I read this week, it appears that some "observers", or as I prefer to think of them - the usual suspects - think that companies should embrace whingers and disruptive staff, holding them close for productivity's sake. Oh, and also and because they are "brave". Brave? What am I missing here in the making-sense department? Or is this just one more way that HR experts validate the way most of us already feel about them?

Okay, now I probably sound like a much worse person than I am (or, maybe not my staff may be thinking), but here's how I see it: A whinger regularly complains, always has a problem and never ever provides a solution. Work is challenging enough without a cloud of negativity descending from the workstation next door.

Why would I want that person working for or with me? I have no issue if someone has a problem and offers a concurrent solution - that's good, that's constructive, that's initiative. Welcome aboard, I'd say to this group of people, even if they are a little tempest-tost.

And, while I don't mind distinctive personalities, or even quirkiness, I do prefer my people not crazy. I have worked with disruptive personalities, and they are not good news; they are usually cranky, sullen and cause disruption. These are the people whom we smile about when the competition poaches them.

No, I think it's time for IT to share with these HR experts one of the hard-earned truths we've learned these past few years. The agenda calls for you to integrate with the business, not attempt to get the business to put up with bad staff.

So with a nod to this nation's recent foray into IR reform, I'm offering my own little riff on Emma Lazarus's poem:

Give me not your confused, your whingers,

Your crazy bastards yearning for a fee,

The social outcasts, the weirdos with grasping sticky fingers.

Instead send these, the gormless, tempest-tost slackers


Because there is no way I want them working for me.

(And I'm certain they'll never work WITH me.

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