Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

You Are a Beautiful Fat Globule

Allow your employees to be themselves and show show their strengths, not be crushed into a neat and convenient square by HR. Homogenization only benefits bean counters, not the individual.

In every grocery store, there is a section to buy milk. On almost every one of those cartons, there is the word “homogenized”. Homogenization is an industrial process that crushes and squeezes the large fat globules that naturally occur in milk into tiny globules that are evenly dispersed throughout the liquid. This is done so that milk sitting in cold storage does not separate.

There are no health benefits derived from homogenization. It was invented — like “bleached” white flour, “refined” table salt and “grain-fed” beef — to make consumers feel better about something they were never uncomfortable with in the first place.

You know the phrase “the cream always rises to the top”? When milk used to come straight from the cow’s udder to your doorstep via a sexy white-clad milkman, this was true. But homogenization killed that. It makes all milk equal, quite literally preventing the good cream from separating. It benefits only the industry, not the consumer.

Human resources departments are the homogenizers of the corporate world. Their fundamental purpose is not to protect the employee, but to protect the employer. You know, “the man”. Their job is to create an illusion of a halcyon workplace by grinding down the angular personality traits of the employees into a tightly wound, high-performance ball designed to roll in a predictable straight line.

They do this by creating “processes”, “performance reviews”, and “personal objectives”. They roll out sterilized, legally approved, one-size-fits all “solutions” to every person in the company, as if every person were the same, to the din of teeth-numbing jargon. Every employee is flattened and squared, and then stuffed into a manila folder. They don’t differentiate between accounting and design services. They are a regime, and they serve only one master: the assets of the company.

To hell with policy and corporate convenience

Don’t let HR policies grind you down. You and your team are beautiful fat globules. Rise to the top and to hell with the suckers who let themselves be reamed by the machine.

How do I do this? you ask.

Do not let your HR team interview any candidates.

There is no amendment in the Constitution that says all candidates most first pass through the retarded bumbling of a low-level HR generalist’s phone screen. Demand that you see all resumes for the position, and that you conduct all interviews. If you really want to short-circuit the process, ask that all resumes be sent to you and not filtered through the HR department. If you don’t “have time” to review them all, then you don’t deserve the requisition for the new hire. I mean, it’s new headcount for your team. Take some fucking ownership.

Write your reviews the way you want them.

Lots of companies have complicated, standardized performance review forms that might as well be applications for US citizenship. Don’t let the Vogons make you think this is the only way to draft them. Write them the way you would want to receive them: as a narrative. Relevant, and specific, to the position at hand, using real names, places and examples. The richer in detail, the better. Praise and criticize. Worship and rebuke. Illustrate and advise.

Don’t speak in weird “HR tongue”.

The HR community has developed an arsenal of language-twisting euphemisms that are abortions of communication. Things like “on-board” and “off-board”. Don’t buy into this shit. Speak plainly, evocatively, without the acidic lace of jargon. If you start to talk and communicate like a drone, it’s too late – every one of your employees hates your guts and wouldn’t trust you to conduct their worst enemy’s “exit interview”.

Be honest.

Tell the truth, when you can, even when maybe you’re not supposed to. Trust your people to know things. If you try to hide or protect the truth, the rumor mill works overtime to compensate.

Don’t treat everyone the same.

Some people are left-handed, some live on a beet farm, some abhor the color yellow, some come to work because they want to create greatness, some take the train, some really hate cilantro, some are gay, some are short, some wear glasses, some pee sitting down, some like it rough, some hate Macs, some type with two fingers, some could seriously kick your ass, some need to be talked off the ledge, some could not give less of a shit about what others think, some just need a paycheck. If you treat everyone the same, you’re not treating anyone well.

Let them rise

Most importantly, in order to truly appreciate the most influential, wise, and deserving fat globules, you have to let them rise. If you recognize the good in people, put them in positions where it’s realized to the benefit of the company, and don’t let HR artificially cap their potential.