Ready for her engagement related jelly? Good. Then we'll begin. Image: A.Ricardo/

Wednesday 22nd June 2016

Pop goes HR #5

Managers should put a ring on it, suggests Beyoncé

It’s that hoary old cliché again: folk join companies and leave managers.

In particular, people leave managers when managers stop giving them special attention. Employees want bosses to treat them as individuals.

But that’s not just us saying that. Heck, no. Beyoncé tells a similar story in Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It), a tune in which she uses a relationship break-up as a thin metaphor for the disintegration of an employer-employee psychological contract.

‘If you liked it,’ she sings, ‘then you should have put a ring on it.’ In other words, manager, you should have engaged me.

In an age of what we can only semi-humourously refer to as Industrialised HR, managers increasingly believe that engagement is not a matter of individual interactions but a semi-automatic output of the system.

‘Why the heck should I take time out to engage with my people,’ they think to themselves, ‘when that marvelous HR system is delivering engagement structures without my involvement?

‘What extra value could I bring when HR is already providing flexible benefits, employee value propositions, wellbeing platforms, internal communications, L&D and goodness knows what other magnetic ingenuities?

‘Nope, I’ll just sit quietly at my workstation and do these reports, thanks.’

Well, Beyoncé knows that the outputs of Industrialised HR are insufficient when it comes to true, lasting engagement. She requires a positive personal relationship with her manager that will ensure her career development, not just cookie-cutter bait from the HR machine.

Don’t treat me to these things of the world
I’m not that kind of girl
Your love is what I prefer

And if the manager doesn’t pull his finger out (or Beyoncé’s, perhaps, in order to place that figurative ‘ring’ upon it) then she will exercise her ultimate right by resigning:

Say I’m the one you want
If you don’t, you’ll be alone
And like a ghost I’ll be gone

Which will mean the manager will have to start frantically searching for a replacement – in other words, ‘looking [for talent like] crazy right now’.

But that’s a whole other story, pop-slash-HR fans.

About the author

Andrew Baird

Andrew is the CEO of HRville. He is also Employer Brand Director of Blackbridge Communications, Editorial Director of Professionals in Law and an associate of The Smarty Train. Previously, he was the MD of TCS Advertising.