The HR Killjoy

If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.” – Martin Blank

Look…I get it.

It’s your job to make sure that everyone gets treated equally and fairly, and that the company doesn’t get sued, and blah de blah blah blah…

…but do you have to suck the life out of everyone in the entire free world just because you have a locked filing cabinet with people’s resumes stored away?

Is there some stockpile of bitter resentment because you never get the emails or calls when everyone’s heading out for drinks after work?

Because now…now you’re going too far…

And to start with…again: I get it.  And I totally understand your role in the organization.

Trust me…as someone who wound up involved in more than one lawsuit against a former employer because of the actions of the owner…yeah, I really do get it.

But then I read nonsensical crap like this:

You can totally go read the article if you want to, but as a quick synopsis:

Employee of [x time frame] is a bad thing to be doing and companies should stop it because it makes other employees feel bad.”

Shut up.


While I applaud you for not taking the “everybody gets a trophy” approach that has led to the creation of Overblown Sense of Entitlement Guy – you’ve gone off the deep end in the opposite direction of “Did you bring enough gum for everyone in the class?  No?  Then nobody can have any!”

We’re not seven years old and learning cursive.  This is the real world.

Full disclosure: Yes, I am one of “those” people who has prior “employee of the quarter” and “employee of the year” awards on his resume.

You know why?

Because I earnedthem, that’s why.

And so, in your blog entry, you ask:

“What of poor Mary who toiled next to Joe for 14 months – working side-by-side with him, pulling extra shifts, smiling and beaming the whole while?  Mary put up with the long hours, diatribes from management and bs from the customers the same as Joe.  And so did Carol and Mac and Ashley and Joshua…”

What if Mary, Carol, Mac, Ashley and Joshua don’t care about getting their egos stroked?

What if they aren’t the kind of people that enjoy being in the limelight and just want to work away in the shadows and then go home?

But let’s assume they do like their egos stroked and they do enjoy the limelight.

You know what Mary, Carol, Mac, Ashley and Joshua probably didn’t do?

Play the game.

Because yeah…it’s a game.  Maybe if they had made sure they were aligned with the right people in the office, or ensured the boss saw took notice of their accomplishments, or better understood the dynamics and politics in the office…

Oh, what?  Too real world for you?

This isn’t academia, folks.  In the real world, office life doesn’t work like the book in your Econ 101 class said it does…it works more like Office Space, Wall Street, and The Office.

At one company, when I was making my numbers and supporting the owner’s strategies…that’s not what got me those awards.  It was hanging out as couples with our wives having drinks and dinner and making sure I was forefront in his mind.  It was playing the game…and the awards, bonus checks, raises and whatever the hell else I wanted kept flowing in.

And then I stopped playing the game when he went overboard and I called him out on it.  I couldn’t support his actions any more.  I didn’t want to be associated with him any more.  We stopped getting together as couples and the drinks and dinners came to a halt.

My numbers?  Still phenomenal.  My last year there I took web revenue from $3 million to $8 million.  Blew any and all targets out of the water so badly that no matter how many times he “tweaked” the numbers to try to make my goals unreachable…I still found ways to hit and exceed them.

But there were no more awards.

No more gratuitous bonus checks.

The well had gone dry…but it had nothing to do with anything that’s supposed to matter.  From pure business and professional standpoints, I was still killing it…but suddenly other people were winning those same awards, getting those bonus checks, getting approvals for that additional headcount and training for their resources…

…because they were playing the game.

And even though it was a game I no longer wanted to play…sure, I still felt envious of them for the things that they got…but knowing what I knew about what they were condoning to get it…well, at least I could sleep at night.

So while nobody’s doing anyone any favors by handing out trophies to anyone and everyone that shows up on the field to play…you’re also not doing anyone any favors by pretending that the real world is something other than what it actually is – a game.

Not everybody deserves a trophy.

Not everyone can win.

But you don’t cancel the NFL season because you’re afraid that the Lions will get their feelings hurt when they don’t win the Superbowl because other teams played the game better than they did.  You don’t stop handing out the Stanley Cup because you’re worried about how the Toronto Maple Leafs feel after not winning it for almost 50 years.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go chew a piece of gum.

And no, I didn’t bring enough for the rest of the class.

But I probably have a spare piece if the boss asks for one.

That’s all for this time.  Check out the other Don’t Be That Guy entries out at or something else over at