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Peter Cook

Human Dynamics

Managing Director

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Blog: Punk Rock HR – Christmas countdown part 2

In this mini series, we’re counting down 10 HR tips as seen through the eyes and ears of Punk Rock.  
No need to pogo whilst reading these unless you must!  
For more on all this, ping me a note with PUNK in the title to claim your free Christmas HR gift – a copy of my micro book – Punk Rock People Management.  Send me your suggestions for number 1. Today we count down from 6 to 4, punk pickers.
# 6 – What do I get? – The Buzzcocks
THE PUNK HR POINT – We know well enough from Frederick Herzberg and The Buzzcocks that pay is a ‘dissatisifier’. In other words, if you double people’s pay, they won’t work twice as hard for twice as long. Take away their pay and you know all about it if it is perceived as being out of balance with the effort as Starbucks are just about to discover. Pay people well enough, but don’t just focus on pay as the reward for work. This reinforces the conversation about ‘What do I get?’ After all RNR stands for Reward AND Recognition, not just Rock’n’Roll.
# 5 – Two Tribes – Frankie Goes to Hollywood
THE PUNK HR POINT – The Bard of Barking, Billy Bragg, may not have been an HR pro, but he may have contributed more to our understanding of collective bargaining than all the employment law authors in the world if they were laid end-to-end, via his song ‘There is power in a union’. Frankie goes to Hollywood also reminded us of the classic pluralist assumption within classical HR thinking on unions in their 80’s anthem ‘Two Tribes’. OK, Frankie are not punks I know, but they conveyed the spirit of punk rock through their music. 
Punk Rock HR offers us three chords on unions:
  • See unions as an advantage in a pluralist workplace due to the money and time they can save you if you get the relationship right.
  • Focus on interests rather than positions if you are to do collective bargaining well.
  • See negotiations from all viewpoints so that you can be most effective in reaching a solution. It is what pre-punk Scandinavians Abba would have called “Knowing me, knowing you”.
# 4 – Happy House – Siouxsie and the Banshees
THE PUNK HR POINT – Siouxsie Sioux’s deeply ironic lyric flags up the problem with the ‘happiness movement’.  She commented that “Happy House” contrasts the illusion of family bliss, where everyone smiles, has blond hair, has all-day sunshine, eats butter without fat, with the realities of life – depression, wife beating and so on.  Grim stuff for a pop song!  The happiness movement also seems to operate under the illusion that we are all becoming more self-actualised and self-driven, when the data seems to suggest that people are less happy than they were 50 years ago, even though we are considerably richer. Since work is a huge part of life, the HR function should be perfectly positioned to help design jobs and work which are fulfilling.

Counting down to number 3, 2, 1 next time …  Send your suggestions here. 

Peter Cook is managing director of business and organisational performance consultancies, Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock.

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Peter Cook

Managing Director

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