Magazine article Personnel Journal

So What Else Is New?

Magazine article Personnel Journal

So What Else Is New?

Article excerpt

I've decided that the general media have absolutely no comprehension of HR management. How else can you explain the media's peevish attitude toward President Clinton during his first few weeks in office? Their stance has been somewhere between perplexity and annoyance that Clinton didn't simply jump in and start solving the nation's problems during his first day in office.

Obviously, such critics don't understand that those pesky HR issues--recruiting, training, team building and so on--take time and energy, and never go as smoothly as we would like. What did people really expect? Has any new CEO ever begun to drive change from the first day on the job? Hasn't every new business venture been affected, to one degree or another, by HR issues? Why should the U.S. government--inarguably one of the biggest, most complicated organizations on the planet--be exempt?

I'm writing this as Clinton is completing his first 90 days in office. So far, the media-and therefore the public--have focused almost exclusively on what really are HR issues. Let's look at what happened:

1) Clinton tried unsuccessfully twice to fill the Attorney General post before Janet Reno was confirmed. Both times, his choice was forced to withdraw from the confirmation process after questions were raised about her hiring of an illegal immigrant. This is an HR issue on two fronts.

On one level, of course, there's the matter that two prominent, successful women had such difficulty finding suitable child care. As a society we've failed to resolve our lack of adequate child care, and however one feels about Zoe Baird and Kimba Woods' solutions, clearly the problem is not theirs alone. It's a problem shared by millions of American families, and it became Bill Clinton's problem, too. Although the public and official nature of the Attorney General's post makes the situation unique, I'm sure that many organizations have had trouble filling positions because of some work-family conflict.

On another level, the situation reflects the problems anyone faces during the hiring process. I realize that selecting someone to serve as Attorney General isn't the same as filling a typical corporate position. That said, there certainly are many of the same questions to be answered. …

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