Who's that Girl?


Three Ways HR is Like a Circus- Guest Post by Ben Eubanks

Originally posted: June 22, 2009 on TrishMcFarlane.com

Hello kind readers.  I’m thrilled to have a guest post today by Ben Eubanks.  Ben is an innovative and creative HR pro that you can follow at https://upstarthr.wordpress.com or on Twitter at @beneubanks.

Three Ways HR is Like a Circus

 If Trish is the ringleader, then I suppose I get to play her goofy little Quasimodo-like assistant. And while I won’t be juggling fiery torches while dodging steak knives thrown by a highly aggressive, tricycle-riding primate, I will be sharing some of the ways that HR is like a circus.

 Rampaging Elephants

 You are working on an extremely important project. It has quite a few applications, including increasing employee job satisfaction, decreasing the amount of paperwork necessary for day-to-day operations, and simplifying some of the HR processes overall. Then a manager decides that it’s more important to create a new process that is going to add to the insanity.

 At times, the management can be like a raging elephant. They mow over everything in their path and think they are totally unstoppable (and unspeakably brilliant). HR introduces the calming effects to reduce the chaos, but we’re not able to neutralize the threat completely. Like in a circus, it’s sometimes best to let the rampaging elephants tire themselves out.

 Lion Taming

 The employee sitting in the chair in front of you is positively the best employee you’ve ever worked with. She can do nearly twice the work of her coworkers, and she is coveted among the managerial staff. The only problem is that she knows it. And she’s trying to leverage it against the company for more compensation.

 Some employees are amazingly talented. They contribute highly to the organization, but if not guarded closely, they will leave. Lions are the same way. They are the stars of the show, and they know it, but if you aren’t careful, then you end up losing control of the situation. Stay focused on your highly-talented workers, because if you don’t, then the competition will.


 You’re trying to keep a serious face, but it’s difficult. You had a walk-in who somehow talked you into an interview. He sits across the table talking nonstop while you peruse his application. The guy’s resume contains such gems as “I pay attention detail” and “I need a job real bad.” As you fight to contain your laughter, the applicant continues yammering about his extensive experience in the wrong field.

 Unless you have an irrational fear of people with big grins, big shoes, and big noses, you like clowns (and me too, obviously!). Comic relief by the barrel (or tiny carload), clowns provide a break from the mind-numbing processes and systems involved in the HR functions. We deal with so many tough situations and clowns give us the chance to laugh off some of the accumulated stress. From crazy resumes to scratch-your-head employee behaviors, there’s at least one clown in every bunch!

 Still think that HR isn’t much like a circus? Then maybe you should stay in more. Whether HR is playing its role by coaching or commanding, it’s got much more in common with the circus than with Sesame Street!

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