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March 3, 2008

Strategic Human Resources, In Goldenrod


“Why do we need a color-coded employee-advancement classification system?”


The HR director folded her arms and gave me one of those how-could-you-ask-that looks.


“D.F. We want to encourage our people to pursue advancement. The ChCEAC method will help us identify good candidates for elevation.”


“Elevation? Cheeks?”


“It’s Capital C, lower-case h, Capital C-E-A-C. It stands for Color-enhancement Coded Employee Advancement Classification.”


“Where does the lower-case h come in?”


“Enhancement! There’s an ‘h’ in enhancement, but it’s not the first letter of the word, so it’s lower-case. I inserted it in there to make the acronym easier to pronounce.”


“Then what’s with the second capital C?”


“It’s not important, D.F. What matters here is that we are creating a pathway to prosperity for our people.”


Egad. This is what happens when people think that everything needs to be strategically planned. Whoever took corporate America’s perfectly harmless personnel directors, and ruined them by turning them into “human resource” directors is probably responsible for this. It’s no longer enough just to file their employment papers and make sure they’re in the country legally. Now we have to give them a “pathway to prosperity,” which reminds me that it would be nice if someone could point me toward my own.


The HR director has worked long and hard on this. She’s prepared charts. They have footnotes. I mean, with little raised numbers and everything. I’m sort of freaked out.


But here’s the gist of it:


Each employee is assigned a color-coded category based on their likelihood of being a good candidate for advancement within the company. There are three categories – red, yellow and green.


Green means the person is a strong candidate for advancement and should be nurtured to build on strengths, pursue training opportunities to shore up weaknesses and begin working with a mentor to develop a broader understanding of the company’s goals and objectives.


Er, OK. What’s yellow?


Yellow means the person is task-oriented and has not shown an inclination to grasp the broader picture, raising questions as to whether (s)he would be a valuable team member if elevated to a level of greater responsibility.


And you don’t even want to know about red, which is more or less the why-did-we-hire-this-person-and-can-we-get-rid-of-him/her category. Hopefully I’m not in it.


“So you see, D.F., by referring to the color code indicated on the person’s employment files, you will know how to proceed with respect to facilitating their possible advancement within the company. The employee’s respective shade will help guide you in approaching the individual’s career direction.”




Oh yes. There’s not just green. There’s lime, olive and pine. The lime employees are go-getters, but there’s no rhyme or reason to what they go and get. The olive group has a military mentality and wants more rules. Pine? I guess they’re prickly.


The yellow group is broken up into corn, chartreuse and goldenrod, and I can’t explain those to you because I would be fired by my syndicate. But trust me, they’re interesting.


“Why can’t we just keep an eye on people and, if we have a higher-level position available, consider promoting them to it?”


She gave me that look again.


“D.F. That’s not very systemic.”


Neither is goldenrod, but I’m sitting here looking at it.

© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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