How do I "HR Proof" myself?
June 14, 2006 6:34 PM   Subscribe

I feel like whatever I do my boss is gearing up to fire me... I am a high performer who built most of my consulting practice, yet there's blood in the water and several of my peers are getting laid off.

My useless staff person who is out sick or late most of the time however seems to be judgement proof. In fact I have been told I can't speak to him about his performance. I suspect he has gone with an "I am depressed and any more negative feedback will cause me to self-harm" causing the partners to quake with fear and effectively shielding him.

So... what kind of bullshit can I concoct to similarly protect myself? I need something foolproof. P.S. selling a ton of work and helping everyone doesn't seem to work
posted by kaytrem to Work & Money (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by phrontist at 6:39 PM on June 14, 2006

No shit. Do you really want to work there anyway? Sounds like a madhouse. If you quit before they fire you, you win.
posted by mds35 at 7:04 PM on June 14, 2006

Yeah, just quit. If you've really built your consulting practice yourself you should be able to take your clients with you. I mean I can't imagine non-competes count if you get fired, do they?
posted by delmoi at 7:04 PM on June 14, 2006

No shit. Do you really want to work there anyway? Sounds like a madhouse.

Meh, I can imagine that he's just been working his staff person too hard and irritating the higher-ups.
posted by delmoi at 7:06 PM on June 14, 2006

OK - first of all thanks and you are right I should leave and probably will, the ball is in motion so to speak. But I am still interested in gaming HR, or at least thinking about it. So I am looking for creativity here, what will knock them back on their heels such that they say "hmm let's wait on that one - lawsuits are bad m-kay" Like I say I think the "will suicide publicly wearing company T-shirt" is taken by Mr. Lazy, my staffer. What else is there?
posted by kaytrem at 7:11 PM on June 14, 2006

Quitting is the dumbest possible thing to do in these circumstances. Wait to be fired and collect your compensation and/or sue.
posted by unSane at 7:12 PM on June 14, 2006

I feel like I need more details. What is a staff person? Why do you think your boss will fore you? Is there some sort of severance available?
posted by sweetkid at 7:19 PM on June 14, 2006

Lester Burnham: Then I guess I'll have to throw in a sexual harassment charge.

Brad Dupree: Against who?

Lester Burnham: Against YOU. Can you prove that you didn't offer to save my job if I let you blow me?

Brad Dupree: Man, you are one twisted fuck.

Lester Burnham: No, Brad; I'm just an ordinary guy who has nothing left to lose.
posted by brain cloud at 7:33 PM on June 14, 2006 [2 favorites]

IANAL or a HR person, but if they are doing lay offs, I don't think there is any condition, physical or mental, that will save you. Even if they hate you and fire you but still call it a lay off, I doubt there is anything you can do to save yourself at this point.
posted by necessitas at 7:54 PM on June 14, 2006

Keep your list of client contacts, and maintain good relationships with them. The implied threat that you could take accounts is something that might give pause.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:12 PM on June 14, 2006

on an aside, IANAL means "I am not a lawyer"? heavens, I hope so.
posted by sweetkid at 8:50 PM on June 14, 2006

I understand your anger, and everybody has their moment of wanting revenge, but I think you'll find that you reap what you sow. In your shoes, I would perform, lay low, and look for a new better position.
posted by GIRLesq at 9:12 PM on June 14, 2006

Just casually drop into conversation one day, either with or near somebody higher up:

"Man, can you believe how many people are winning wrongful dismissal suits these days? It seems like even the most incompetent boob, getting fired, is winning a 6 digit wrongful dismissal suit. I know what *I* am gonna do if I ever get fired"

However, if they're just laying people off, this doesn't really apply. Laid off != fired.
posted by antifuse at 1:14 AM on June 15, 2006

Update your resume, put together your portfolio, locate and reach out to a competent headhunter who places people in your field.

Life's too short to work at a job that sucks if you have any other options at all; if you're a successful consultant who has built a practice and knows how to bring in work, then unless what you do is incredibly obscure, you've got many options in the current job market.

When layoffs, reductions in force, etc. happen, people are always amazed at some of the decisions about who goes and who stays. If you haven't figured out by now that performance is not the primary criterion for success in the business world, let me suggest that you do some reading up on office politics. The Way of the Rat would be an excellent place to start.
posted by enrevanche at 4:02 AM on June 15, 2006

kaytrim, don't bother wasting time showing up hr. you will end up using resources that are better spent in your job search, or in preparing your client base for eventual departure. if you 'win' this hr battle, what do you get? a sense of satisfaction? it's not worth it. besides, you may need these people some day. playing games with this now may cost you more then you intend in the future.

although i admit i like the blowjob suggestion above.
posted by lester at 8:16 AM on June 15, 2006

Got a family? An elderly parent, with a photogenically gentle and careworn face, that you can talk about how you're going to have to have move in with you soon because of their advanced age (regardless of whether this ACTUALLY is going to happen or not)? A wife that you can constantly hint about being a browbeating shrew, despite you working night and day to support her and all you ask for in return is to be loved? What about your n beautiful ("Hey, did I ever show you pictures of my darling, innocent kids? Take a look...") children, who would be OUT ON THE STREET IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS COLD, CRUEL WINTER if you lost your job? Have you made sure to wander by the HR people to show off pictures of your kids? Got those pictures prominently displayed near the entrance to your office?

Know any doctors? Any that might give you some sort of sympathy-inducing medical evaluation (either for you or someone in your close family) that you can then casually 'notify' people around your office about?

Is there anyway to go *higher* than these guys and befriend the biggest of the big? Or more likely, buddy up with one of the other partners somehow (golf, professional society activity, one of their hobbies that 'coincidentally' is one of yours, start banging his daughter, etc) so that it gets trickier to pry you loose?

Become the lone 'representative' of your company at industry or professional society functions, in a way that you and your company start to become synonymous to certain groups of influential customers? Then swing by the HR office, tell them you're involved with all this, and ask if there was any way you could help be on the lookout for new talent... even though what you're actually telling them is, "I'm the only one out there doing this; don't F with me."

Making your *personal* connections with clients (which, if you don't have now, you will begin cultivating, right?) much more obvious around the office? "Hey Jim, I was out shooting polar bears with Bob Labla from Spankey & Likke this weekend, and he said to say hello. What a guy, you should see him pack away the tacos."

Have you tried Googling your superiors to see if there's anything weird in their past you can find out? Something that you could casually mention one day while passing in the hallway, with a suggestively raised eyebrow and a conspiratorial slap on the shoulder? "Hey Jim, I was idley reading USENET the other day and... I had no idea you followed the Greatful Dead for two months. Imagine that, a partner of Karkian Consultants was a Deadhead. The crew in HR would think that was so cool!"

I'm not saying I myself do any of this...
posted by BruceL at 12:01 PM on June 15, 2006

If you get laid off, you should qualify for unemployment.
posted by delmoi at 2:14 PM on June 16, 2006

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