Barefoot in the heart, part 10: the HRD

you probably don’t know me I’m the new HRD MSc CIPD here to dispel the legacy of personnel tampax and tea hired by witch trial fired by fax hardwired by policy deranged by iniquity its all changed of course now we are human resource the fanatical want to call us capital so we’re strategic not tactical but its comedic I know about human beings me want to be your equal your business partner your confidant your trusted advisor always on your shoulder the organisational direction your protection the quiet insurrection in your head the instead in your dilemma cracking the cemented code hacking fracking quacking the motherlode we’re all social media cupcakes now the stakes are higher we speak gen y they’re a limited supply no reason why born online with an endless capacity for the assonine we’re on the frontline in the trenches fighting the just war for talent filling benches with the itinerant/ambivalent/belligerent who end up leaving when they stop believing the inflated inculcated crap that led them out from the duvet and into the trap but they’re hard to find when you’ve been found out but when all alleys are blind we’ve still got Klout got an enviable litany of bullshit-free motivational inspirational transformational exercises oh yes a cacophony for success going to get crowned for turning this business around and when all else fails I still have the employee estrangement survey for an annual confirmation of derangement at the heart of the polis and through the monotony of my claim to a seat at the table I find solace in polishing the mahogany and crushing velvet for the backsides that reserve it through accidents of history the dream lives on in perpetuity but in my heart I am barefoot searching for identity and a place in posterity knowing my contribution would be immense if I could just be heard above the ambivalence so I fight push assert act extravert insistent bold but I’m a people person and it pierces my heart like a dart when you tell me I’m unapproachable distant cold

This post was first published in This time its Personnel: Humane Resourced 2 available on Amazon, all proceeds to charity

Barefoot in the heart: part 9, the FM

me I”m an FM its a profession of course qualification accolade badge and recognition we’re the hidden force the key in the ignition we keep you housed lit safe portered secure warm fed caffeinated and watered of course its not about bricks and mortar now but service even though it all revolves around the buffed and branded headquarter polished knobs on the top floor and the occasional respite of a shard of daylight in the basement which we call lower ground makes it sound more humane for the urbane department but get two #of us FM’s in a room and we’ll argue all night about what it means like a definition would actually make a difference but its a distraction from following the intuition that’s dragged us up from perdition while some folks at the institution are having afternoon tea with the CPID for Rich Tea and credibility but some at the thin end of the normal distribution think their body is just a pingback in history to an earlier stage of evolution now they’re post-cupcake social and they don’t seem to have got excited about the prenuptial and its no mystery that the HR folk at base never speak to me being operational is so constipational we’ve climbed the thirty one practices to strategy stepped right over tactical in the ascent because no-one knew what it meant albeit seems we did so in our imagination because corporate lovetrain’s left the station no-one here to explain we’ll catch the last one when it comes round again but in my heart I am barefoot as there’s nothing I couldn’t surpass if I could just get this target off my arse if my back’s to the wall or I’m seated its the only way I don’t feel like the walking defeated while the beancounters have us spreadsheeted and receipted but we know there’s value in the occasional smile or softly spoken thank you for the extra mile that’s always expected my only seat at the table the one I ordered and got to unpack before the meeting started I’ll try it when everyone’s departed but its a long old weft just hope they were too busy talking than eating and there’s a flapjack left


Barefoot in the heart: part 8, the facilitator

cue the slow hand claps write my name top of the page again full caps underline it another day another anonymous assemblage cursing their employment who cant stand the sight of each other and would rather be sur la plage than locked in a basement built to withstand nuclear radiation facing the dark arts of facilitation but a subtle deployment of my statutory equipage of post-its flipcharts blutac and odourless drywipes will have the odious asswipes in a rapturous embrace between ice and first comfort breaks remember to silence that phone or if I hear a poxy one direction ring tone I’m going to oxy acetylene it leave your hierarchy at the door be in no doubt this is a monarchy and with coloured card comes clout so what do you want out of today what does success look like confess something personal to the group about yourself that doesn’t make us think you’re either hewn from a hunk of manilla or a secret serial killer thats great you were an extra in Michael Jackson’s Thriller oh sea swallow me okay before your collective attentive libido droops lets break into smaller groups and see if you can think of something anything and write so it doesn’t look like you’ve downed a demijohn of gin so more than just a flybot can read it and if its really completely shit we’ll put it in the parking lot oh go on check your pointless e-mail I’m off for a smoke with the only frustrated bloke here who isn’t dead inside and make sure no-one knows I buried my head in my hands and cried in animated despair 321 back in the room you present I’ll resent and pretend I knew what you meant but in my heart I am barefoot I know nothing but how to get there but its nowhere if doesn’t mean anything I talk in the riddles of deliverables all my output folded neatly for recycling my reality an empty impartiality an ever open ended question because I have no opinion in my daily sanitised dominion you gift your doubt your suspicion your knowing wantaway smirk and I am always left with the only marker in the room that doesn’t work

Barefoot in the heart: part 7, the receptionist

good morning sir who are you here to see other of course than me but you weren’t to know that I come free I’m your meet and greet fantasy I am the reassuring familiarity in your otherwise boring itinerary been here for a quarter of a century employee number three I’m a saucer(ess) full of secrets a library of passing cares extra-curricular affairs and holder of a few hundred thousand shares probably a millionairess by now not bad for someone with one CSE grade three but what’s it all for without company one CEO I used to know had a heart attack died on my pillow but they didn’t want his wife to know sleaze is bad for fees so flew me to Acapulco for a holiday all expenses paid ninety six degrees in the shade they weren’t surprised but never asked me I was traumatised wasn’t long before I was back smiling for everyone booking meeting rooms and making coffee I hear talk it must be delightful having no responsibility whatever pressure could I be under don’t have to take work home with me and the worst mistake I could make is to order cake for a gluten intolerant VIP I’ve done first aid kiss of life the heimlich manoeuvre and am trusted with a nespresso, letter knife, hoover and the non-taxing parts of a PC and if I am lucky I get to do the stationery order and some faxing don’t give me that sexual equality bullshit if there’s a symbol of the way it used to be I AM IT the epitome and epiphany of mysogyny and while I get to expense my waxing and manicures in my heart I am barefoot everybody wants my first impression but nobody wants me more refined but evermore lined than I used to be the expression taken for granted was invented for me untouchable for the encyclopaedia of what I know and what I see but untouched the dreams at which I once clutched sailing over the horizon with the exec with tom ford on are a paling sepia discord without doubt he once looked back and smiled as I signed us both out

Barefoot in the heart: part 6, the blogger

I am the wordpress warrior from shoeburyness relocated by my employer to andover drive a range rover sling a boden pullover over the chip on my shoulder confidently emerging from my anonymity with the street credibility of a third class degree in psychology a first would have said I spent too much time in the library but the internet isn’t it great sets me free to grate gyrate irritate infuriate the virtual milk crate I was desperate for got a retort for every sort who think they can pull one over of course liberty is dangerous in the wrong hands so I’ll mediate any attempt to upstage me and rage has no place on my comments page because I’ll be the one to remind you of your inferiority I’m idea-rich and time-poor that’s the law of the glass floor I’ll stick another one face down when I can be arsed but no that thought’s passed there’ll be more you see I’m social but only if you’re not a bore I’ll engage if there’s something to be gained as I see no-one explained it’s all about me that’s the wonder of the world of self-publication and self-publicity I am my very own self-appointed thought leader the personification of provocation free range offender one step ahead of the agenda I have the motive and the means (the talent is in development) and when my weekend stewing bursts forth on a monday feel free to offer an RT but don’t expect the humility of appreciation because I have given you a whole commute full of inspiration and for that you should be thanking me it’s simple it really is its all bullshite we’re setting the stale old barricades of complacency alight tearing at the stonecold heart of the leviathan I am the germfree libertarian the post-new-age aquarian the meritocratic egalitarian free market communitarian the weekend vegetarian as long as I’m cabled and wifi enabled I won’t be labelled and my klout score has just gone up to fifty seven but in my heart I am barefoot my revolutionary road lined with suv’s and four-beds with conservatories and at least three lavatories I sleep sound and protected my only deprivation a decent barista at the station try as I may just can’t help but be respected for taking a blade to your consensus but it ends up far more privet hedge than cutting edge with all the danger of a bonded razor like trotsky in chinos and a blazer but the further I reach into the normal distribution the more my contribution becomes an illusion the energy in the rebellion of my libertine dream just another exhausted sinew of the mainstream


Barefoot in the heart: part 5, the consultant

pure crispy white shirts arrayed you can afford to have your ironing done when you’re an overpaid insecure overachiever day dream unbeliever it’s another do-or-die day another stripey tie tortoiseshell specs the non-threatening soft sell flex so much to convey just hope they don’t try and take my whiteboard marker away would be like losing a limb or an eye its fundamental control of the flipchart is essential rule the room rule the kingdom rule the roost only one rule of uptight club and that’s keep hold of the pen it’s the battle standard of the corporate arena been invited in more of a subpoena some assumptions need validity to give credibility to what’s already been proved you need the sublime objectivity of the masters of the one stage removed they call me Clive the deep dive the cliché pastiché all the powder puff sugar puff guff you could want for three big ones a day plus unreasonable expenses only the invoice is free not my choice because cristal’s expensive but it’s all about the ability to pay left my mulberry in the wine bar got another one so going to have to wing it next day but cut and paste never failed me can’t let a solution someone else paid for go to waste when I’ve got everyone’s attention I am the master of velvet infection incisive decisive never divisive conflict is for the client flirt with it then skirt it got to remain compliant another retention to nail another scope to creep I could do this in my sleep often do wish to heck and hope someone would stop me but they thirsty pup it all up would be an even easier ride if I got paid by the slide they emerge from my backside with six sigma glide converge in a box of ticks in a box yet in my heart I am barefoot I can whoop your strategy and grant you license to proprietary legitimacy but my shoelaces remain a deeper mystery I would sell my soul to highest bidder but you can’t kid the kidder I’m soaring on the steroid of those too paranoid to breathe without my stamp of approval my liver pickled my arteries alluvial and at the end of the vast polished catwalk the gaping loveless occlusal on a day that looks and sounds more like any other day than any other day just can’t find an excuse to get dressed possessed by opinions on request but lost for anything to say

Barefoot in the heart: part 4, the middle manager

still looking my age or just about first in last out get about mark out my terrain engage stakeholder before brain paid to take responsibility only they call it blame just as long as I’m seen to be there jacket on the back of the horizon got to look like I really care about the three-pronged dominion efficiency effectiveness optimisation bigger slice of the cake no place on the settee for opinion or authenticity when there’s shareholder value at stake we measure in effort compulsory discretionary and if that doesn’t work disciplinary fuels my upward only mobility ready for promotion in a year of sundays if I can just keep my rampant fear of the ever-tightening maze under control got to know when to put your head above the parapet frightening don’t want to end up thinking or sprawled biting the moquette cancelled our holiday in phuket wife was appalled but don’t want to miss anything vital never missed it yet you see the middle is the ideal springboard toward the seat at the fantasy top table with my name on its the motivation I’ve always needed the ultimate reward for the years of unheeded and beaded sweat my kind we’re the viscous glue that’s holds it all in place the meniscus on the glass half contained solid dependable restrained can’t do without us but cloaked in anonymity always the first to get carved by definition upendable belief in our validity suspendable while in my head still hope but in my heart I am barefoot treading quicklime courting the steady beat of time as the tide turns exhorting its retreat depicting scenarios in my constricting imagination given only to suppose that on a scale of heady domination to defeat the clue is already softly lapping at my feet


Barefoot in the heart: part 3, the ceo

buried beneath the bitter earth and the splintering boards above barely room to breathe nailed in suffocating the resounding perpetual pounding of orders being followed pride being swallowed yesterdays being tomorrowed hope being sorrowed confounding all other thought is this what power brings? but see what they bought me on my elevation a material coronation a soundproofed billet the size of docklands arena workstation carved from a marble fillet with personal shopper chauffeur chef charwallah spoon polisher cushion fluffier spectacle buffer all more mustard to impress than words can express in thanks so initially flustered I shuffle an embarrassed deck of blanks and surreptitiously learn the royal wave goes down well with the harassed hourly paid ranks I’m now by default a millionaire debonair rarely there but my PR people really care I’m a self-fulfilling prophecy my very own currency the current rate none of mine for all of yours going to put my feet up while you’re on all fours no-one going to challenge me now I’m fire retardant I’ve read sun tzu the executive summary but who on earth is montesqueiu doesn’t seem to be in the harvard business review well sodhim got a speaking coach personal coach image coach going to be aurally and morally sculpted as befitting one catapulted into olympus cronos on one side zeus on the other no excuse for failure now no sacred cow no why or what just a greatbigblowup how now where’s my speech for the investors and what are these protestors doing in the way learn from lincoln now where’s a modernday pinkerton when you need one but finally cast into the sunlight at last am run aground my lungs vermiculite the eyes staring starry glistening balls of kryptonite I talk but no-one listening gulping sound wandering avenues lined with the petrified ghosts of confrontation past j’accuse! choking on thin air wondering why all around breathe softly and no-one seems to notice I am there survivor syndrome imposter syndrome stockholm syndrome and a syn drum in the seventies when life had none of the dross lost my youth at a party on mykonos took a week to find my way home then through the door never left it again buried my loss beneath the same floor I can’t escape in my heart I am barefoot pierced by brittle rosethorns while all around pawns pass silent on wet grass ambivalent the path sucked into the skyline cracked lifeline in the palm of my hand understand at last that all the power I ever thought I had was secondhand


Barefoot in the heart: part 2, the gen y

we’re going to transform the world you know gen y not sure when actually we’re already changing it because we’ve been talking about it over the gaggia and we are the change we want to be in the world or whatever that means some guy called ghandia and that includes the workplace going to shake you out of your malaise and your complacent glaze you think we’re your slaves but I got this new role management trainee modern apprenticeship industrial conscript it’s a sustainable company wouldn’t want to work for anyone not green enough wanted to work for them since I was nineteen even though it’s not really explainable because they make stuff in vietnam but they say they don’t do anyone any harm no-one sweats and they said I can travel the world carrying bags hailing cabs who wants to talk over the internets and we do loft living closer to the stars looking at life through a velux okay so its mum and dads house and the windows have bars but who cares a mortgage sucks don’t want to get bored trapped blogged down am going to live in the centre of town when I can afford it suburbia is so claustrophobic me I’m a digital native binary creative fourth dimension ruminative we can multitask behind this vegetative mask we rock positively pulsating we can’t help it if you find it frustrating you have to learn to manage us and motivate us and we’re not devoted to the organisation like your generation ecks we’re just going to sit in the middle of the road with our arms folded and not text until we get promoted command and control is so last century even though I’m on a disciplinary  a first written warning for insubordination okay so you were a punk and you’ve got a faded photo of yourself in a hard pose with red hair and a safety pin through your nose about to spit thought you were revolutionary but didn’t get you much more than another step towards a coronnary and we’ve got fifty shads and you’re just missionary and this taylorism is all to blame heard this fella got us into all sorts of schidt seems it’s a relentless masochism but he hasn’t been england manager for years and didn’t he have an umbrella anyway its no a cliché but one day am going to go do an mba in the usa because all my friends say they want to at least the ones in idaho on facebook do anyway but in my heart I am barefoot my soft uncertain steps unheard no trace I was ever here not a word not even a twitch from behind the curtain temporary a flickr in a world of instant gratification arrived at an empty station 7.42 to waterloo just departed my existence vapour my vision of world domination fame and fortune just a broken hearted three minute slot on television an early round eliminated picked the wrong tune see me hear me it’s what I am not what I’m not

Barefoot in the heart: part 1, the processor

In a short series of posts, we cut through a typical organisation to see how it works – like sawing down the great oak and counting its rings to see how it lived.

rarely a day ripples by that I don’t wonder how I got here and whether I really am the echoes in my head of the jam and the door slam of the tram reverberating around my vague recollection of yesterday and how it seems awfully like today got called into my line managers office he said ralph my names pete you don’t seem yourself these days it’s like you’re swapped that new boy glaze for a deadpan settled in haze so we need you to rediscover your happy feet asked for a new chair it was like I requested peace in the middle east three forms and line approval plus a doctor’s note if I wanted one that would keep my spine from collapsing and my slipped disc from relapsing but because I haven’t got it now I can’t have it now so I’ll have to wait for the pain you tell me whether that’s at all sane talking of which summoned to itch-haha at three seemed I had infringed the delegation of authority policy section c which would be fine if I even understood what it says I should do so I take the remonstration it’s not just me but I’m so normal I’m the only one they see so just put it there with the history of my unintended deviation and prey it’s not another step to enforced emancipation ask me go on ask me if I’m happy and content and share the organisations values when its more about shareholder values go on send me an engagement survey I would comment on the mess I seem to see but though they claim we can speak freely with anonymity they’ve got my eye pee address and I don’t get shares because I’m three grades off the aristocracy they gave me a development plan so I swapped mine with my mate lee to see if anyone would notice and they didn’t so now I’m down to train to drive an hgv and he’s in invoice processing level three instead of me but seems he swapped his with stan who can already drive a van so he’s off scott free I had to collect the picture of my daughter I left on my desk from security because you have to keep it clear it’s all about confidentiality and pretending that no-one’s here but no chance of flexible working for the data stackers the default assumption being shirking we’re inherently slackers either too young to be trusted or old knackers whose career arteries are crusted so yes nine to five is alive in the beehive where the narcissus bathes in viscous manuka but it’s alright it’s just alright just about no point complaining so many worse off than me so I’ll consider myself lucky but in my heart I am barefoot walking on nettles tracing patterns in a dust that never settles suspended between have and have not a sentence never ended a blinking cursor dreaming of a dot


with thanks to Brain Aldiss for the inspiration