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To keep our heads when those around us are losing theirs
We are living in calamitous times and it is not surprising that people are using strong words. The essence of the credit crisis seems, for now, while we wait for a thorough post mortem, a bad case of “emperor’s clothes’. What irony then that we act with scant regard for the technique of our respective professions, or the decorum we expect from people who wield influence.
Using African ‘names in vain’
Yesterday, I was shocked at the language used on Twitter to describe the detention of Corsi in Kenya. I am not closely acquainted with the case but it seems Corsi arrived in Kenya to promote a book highly critical of Obama, who as you know was born in the USA of a Kenyan father. Though I am not closely acquainted with the facts of the Corsi case, the accounts seem odd. A) Would the profit on sales of a book in Kenya even cover the cost of the visit (are any books even on sale there?) B) Kenya has just recovered from massive and murderous unrest and someone visits to provoke controversy? C) A US citizen arrives on business in a country he does not know well and he hasn’t requested prior assistance from his embassy (or has had his request declined)?
I have no idea which of these is true, if any. What shocked me was the alacrity with which Tweeters referred to Kenyans as Obama zombies (@SmoothStone) and to the place where Corsi was being questioned as Torture House (@susan_s_smith). Looking at their home pages, the first tweeter is Republican and the second Democrat. I suggested to both that they apologise to African tweeters and only @susan_s_smith replied, unless I missed the other. She was bemused at what might be offensive.
Returning to the times we live in, there are huge question marks about the way we are managing large powerful companies. The Economist today summarized an article in Harvard Business Review suggesting managers should be held accountable for the effects of their management, in the same way we hold doctors, lawyers, architects and others to account for their professional competence. It is time we lifted our game. Not to do so will lead to the equivalent of the credit crunch in other sectors too.
What we can we do
We are all guilty to some extent. In HRM and related professions, we persist in muddling through and disregarding what we know to be the acceptable standards of our profession. To link back to the Kenyan theme, follow this link to a newspaper article on HRM happenings in Nairobi.
Note the willingness of the newspaper to call the incompetence.
Note the ability of the newspaper to tutor its readership on what should be done.
Note the coherence and depth of the recommendations.
And above all note the temperate and professional language.
To those that way inclined, please desist from using cheap racist tactics of ‘dis’ing’ someone by invoking stereotypes of African incompetence.
To those of us who care about the professionalism of HRM, let’s move on to use the sound research done by our universities, and run our organizations in ways which we would make us all proud. The Kenyan newspaper article sets a standard we can meet, should meet, and have no reason not to meet. It is an excellent example for a university classroom and I have put it into my intranet.
I would like to add British case studies of equal professionalism that model for students
the HRM that we should be
HRM that adds value
and HRM that offers leadership in these distressing times.
If you have a case and you are not a blogger, I’d be most happy to host your article here, and even to write it with you. If you are a blogger and you have a case, let me know and I will deep link back to you!
Have a winning day!
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