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Annie Hayes



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HR Practitioner’s Diary: Much ado in Walford


Jealousy, petty rivalries, crass comments, public fights; Sue Kingston is really in the thick of it this week trying to keep Cupid in its rightful place while dodging some untoward washroom talk.

W/C: 5 September 2005
It looks like we’re enjoying an extended summer which is great and an opportunity to enjoy the last of the BBQ’s before winter hibernation begins.

Blimey mate, what did you just say?
Kat has been the loyal PA of Andy, a Chief Executive for almost three years. Enjoying her job for the most part she did not expect things to take a turn for the worse.

Waiting for her Darcy, Kat like myself has enjoyed her single life for the last 17 years and has had fun dating the numerous frogs along the way.

Andy has always shown a keen interest in her private life and could never fathom why such a beauty like Kat with a warm personality could have had such a rollercoaster love life. When she was dating, Kat always felt Andy was very supportive and encouraging.

That all changed in May of this year. Kat’s prince appeared. Enter Alfie! Much to her delight Alfie has proved to be an absolute gem, you know the sort of thing girls: romantic, thoughtful, intelligent, funny, capable, need I go on? He has helped Kat in anyway he could with DIY, grass cutting, dog walking, cooking, fixing her car, romantic meals and days out. His effort has not faltered at any point to win her heart and make Kat the happiest woman I have come across this year.

Kat’s family and friends have taken Alfie into the fold with open arms and I’m delighted to say this all resulted in Alfie proposing to Kat one month ago, he even chose the ring himself and made sure it was the right size. Kat is now proud to show off her ‘sparkly’ ring to all and sundry, and quite rightly so.

Two people so deserving of one another. I’m a hopeless romantic and you may detect that I am thoroughly delighted for them both. It’s an autumn wedding next year, so I’ll be looking for a hat soon!

But just as things were looking rosy something untoward happened. How dare it I hear you say, but life does present some rather nasty surprises now and then to test true love.

Upon news of Kat and Alfie’s engagement, Andy became less supportive. Kat suffered comments from him which seem to demonstrate his basic insecurity. Remarks like, “I suppose you’ll be having babies and won’t want to work for me anymore,” and “If you’re late in the mornings now I suppose it’s because Alfie’s had his leg over!” These kind of comments are truly shocking. Do we suspect Andy is about to shoot himself in the foot big time?

Kat has not risen to the bait and has continued to do her job well, but she is naturally feeling both a little bit protective and defensive of herself.

The crunch came at Andy’s 40th birthday party to which he invited both colleagues and friends as well as his wife, Peggy, and close family. Kat took Alfie as her guest, the general introductions went well and it was congratulations all round to both Andy on his 40th and Kat and Alfie on their engagement.

As the evening wore on and the drink took effect, there were frequent trips to the toilets. On one such trip Alfie was aware of a ‘little’ guy standing at the adjacent urinal doing what guys do! This guy, Billy, who was a close personal friend of Andy, struck up conversation along the lines of “You lucky bleep!) bagging Kat. I’ve bleeped her three times, but decided she was too tall for me, she’s good in the sack though, eh, eh??”

Well, Alfie managed not to ‘deck’ Billy, but you can imagine, he just zipped up, washed his hands and went back to Kat’s side, but inside he was absolutely fuming. Kat sensed there was something wrong and wouldn’t give up until Alfie had told her what Billy had said. Kat was naturally horrified as she had never even dated Billy, let alone slept with him – it was a case of the drink talking and Billy thinking he was being funny – strange sense of humour!

Kat excused herself to the ladies, where she bumped into Peggy and related the story. Peggy was horrified and said she would tell Andy to talk to Billy and make sure he apologised to both Kat and Alfie for saying such a stupid thing. Just imagine, if Alfie didn’t have the trust in Kat that he did, then Billy’s story could have ruined something so good.

Back at the office on Monday, Kat was naturally apprehensive, but was rather surprised that Andy just ignored the subject altogether. By mid week nothing had been said, no apology had been forthcoming from Billy, so Kat asked Andy what was going on. His response was of total indifference saying that Alfie should not have repeated the conversation to Kat and that it should have simply been laughed off!

Id’ like to hear your views on this. What do you think should happen in the next instalment of this scenario? Let me know and I’ll report back next week.

Time at the bar
Last weekends BBQ party had an interesting outcome which led to a little bit of work for me.

The afternoon started well with glorious weather, live music, a bouncy castle, a human footie table, free bar and great food. It was the free bar that cause the problems as it generally often does.

Some souls simply cannot restrain themselves taking the opportunity to ‘glug’ as much free booze as they can. One such guest was an employee from one of the group subsidiaries, who had a history of this type of behaviour.

Stuart’s manager took a moment to have a word in Stuart’s ear and remind him that he was a guest of the company executive’s and that a number of their friends were also present, these friends also being important to the business in terms of bankers, investors, insurers etc. Stuart gave his assurances that he would try to behave on this occasion.

Approximately one hour later an open bottle of beer came flying through a gap in the marquee and promptly showered the wife and daughter of one of the business associates. Both were wearing white!

Stuart had let us all down again, but more importantly he had let himself down. He didn’t even apologise to the ladies involved and just staggered off across the field and went to lie by a hedge for a snooze!

Unfortunately I didn’t see the incident occur, but when I visited my client two days later it was then that the full story unfolded and I was duly asked to deal with Stuart in a suitable way.

After speaking with Stuart’s manager, we decided on a three pronged attack. Stuart would write an apology letter to both ladies and offer to pay for their dry cleaning. He would also write to the company executive’s apologising for his behaviour and impose a self-ban from any company function for a period of six months. In the meantime, he has undertaken to endeavour to bring his excessive drinking under control.

The only excuse Stuart gave was that it was a free bar and he simply took advantage of that fact! So where does the fault lie? He’s lucky he still has a job, but I dare say if it happens again his job will disappear before his very eyes!

Feeding time at the zoo
In a recent Couch?! article HR Zone looked at a survey carried out by Office Angels which looked at types of animals and the reflections on human personalities.

I’d be interested to hear whether anyone asks their candidates what animal they would be?

Anyway, Kat may have found her Darcy, but I’m still looking, see how I’m getting on.

Vital Stats:

For all of those ‘singletons’ out there:

  • Weight – 9st 9lbs (lack of wine this week)

  • Chocolate – only one chocolate muffin (I’m rather partial to them!)

  • Wine – not enough! I haven’t touched my wine rack for three weeks now!

  • Cider – several after golf and on a couple of dates (perhaps it’s a wine substitute!)

  • Boyfriends – Things have picked up again. Two dates with Charles, found a lovely country pub that serves ‘real’ local Cider, it’s gorgeous and you can really taste the apples – I think I’ve converted Charles! Poor chap dislocated his shoulder removing a fifty foot hedge at the weekend. He’s building a five foot high dry stone wall in its place. Never let it be said he’s shy of hard work. Saw two shooting stars over his field, so quickly made a wish (not telling what the wish was though)!

  • Deep thoughts – Why is dust on wine bottles supposed to be good for them?

Keep it simple everyone and enjoy your week ahead!


More diary entries:

8 Responses

  1. How to turn a “goats” tale from “Billy Liar” into a cheesy compr

    If I’ve understood correctly it seems that at a social (not company) function “little” Billy (why is his size even mentioned?) made a private comment about Kat to her fiancee who (let’s assume not wishing to make a scene / perhaps not knowing whether it was true) chose not to react.

    Billy was out of order (even if it was true it would have been a spiteful thing to do) and Kat on hearing what was said “complains” to her bosses wife Peggy about what her bosses “friend” (again there is nothing to indicate that Billy is a colleague) had said at a party where lots of drink was flowing rather than taking the guy to one side and asking him what he is playing at.

    Peggy, playing the perfect hostess, says that she will get her husband Andy to make Billy apologise, temporarily defusing the situation and perhaps preventing a scene that would have ruined the party. This is an easy thing to say but in all fairness to Andy he isn’t responsible for what his friend said to his secretaries fiancee at a private party and there isn’t any way he can “make” a friend apologise.

    Andy has been put on the spot by what his wife said – he didn’t offer to do this and may not want to compromise a close friendship by tackling the issue. Billy may even be sticking to his story in which case who should Andy believe – his secretary who has every reason to deny it ever happened or a close friend who had nothing obvious to gain from saying it had?

    I suggest that you ask Andy, in his role as as the host at the party, to show some solidarity for Kats’ feelings and to apologise to her for the upsetting incident – and that you suggest that Kat contacts Billy herself to tell him how upset she was by his claims to have slept with her – perhaps asking him how he would feel if she told his wife / girlfiend that she had slept with him when it wasn’t true.

    As I see it Billy is at fault, Peggy has put Andy on the spot and regretably he hasn’t been willing / able to deal with this. Perhaps, as you surmise, Andy feels threatened by the change in Kats’ circumstances but it is possible that her new relationship has affected her committment to work and his comments (babies / legover) have been an inept attempt to express his dissatisfaction.

    I feel that it is time to talk to both of them and sort this out before it all goes wrong (and to Andys’ mind proves what he was thinking was right all along.)

    P.S. If men are frogs what does it say about the women who are willing to kiss them on the off chance of finding a prince and does this mean that there’s hope for an old goat like Billy?

  2. harasment
    If Kat is obviously feeling uncomfortable Andy is Harassing her. The oersonal cooments he is making are uncalled for in this modern working inviroment. She neeeds to make a record of the comments and the date and time if it continues. With that confront him with the issue or present it to a senior in the company.

    P.S. here in NZ it’s just moving into BBQ weather, we are also able to play golf all year round. Or at least when the sea is to rough to go fishing.

  3. You first.
    Commit to changing your salutations to something positive about men and I might comment.

  4. Thoughts
    Thanks Juliet for your further comment which is noted. Smiling is important to me, especially as HR sometimes has the perception of being deadly serious and mind numblingly boring to some individuals – hence my style. I appreciate you taking the time to read my articles, but would still appreciate your comment on what you think Kat should do with regard to Andy’s behaviour – this senario could go a number of different ways and it sounds like you may have a good angle – please share it with us – it would be appreciated I’m sure? Regards, Sue.

  5. Simply questioning a written choice
    >>>>It’s interesting your response has nothing to do with the senario I’ve presented>>>

    Thats quite right – mostly because your column often refers to men as frogs – not just in this scenario – its derogatory. HR should set a better example. As regards my contribution to your piece we dont all have the skills/experience to contribute.

    I do like your written style, just not your nomenclatures, and please dont get all hissy and personal just because of a bit of criticism. You asked for opinions, you got one – just smile your way through it.

  6. Frogs & Princes
    Juliet, thanks for your comment, but I have to protect identities of those concerned and a bit of humour never hurts! It’s interesting your response has nothing to do with the senario I’ve presented – that would be perhaps be more constructive and helpful to other readers too! Suggest you lighten up and I hope you woke up smiling today? I did! Regards, Sue. p.s. Have you written to Natasha Bedingfield re her lyrics on track 9 of Unwritten? I think I know what her response would be!

  7. A play on words
    Juliet – thanks for your comments. The HR Practitioner’s Diary is very popular – our members don’t always respond to articles by posting on the website. In fact I’ve had a lot of positive feedback of late about it but I’m happy for you to start the ball rolling, it just takes one!

    As for Sue’s use of ‘word replacements’ well I think it’s rather cunning – she protects her clients identities by using soap characters from Eastenders or Dallas for example so a bit of ‘frogs’ and ‘birds’ in this context is just part of her style.

    I will alert Sue, however, to your comments.

    Best Wishes,
    Annie Hayes, Editor HR Zone

  8. Men aint frogs, women aint birds
    1. Why does no one ever respond to these articles?

    2. I dont like the way you refer to men as frogs. If men refer to women as birds or skirt there is an outcry. Stoppit!

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