Sunday, 29 September 2013

Pretentious? Moi?

The editorial team of HR Case Studies decided it was time to top up on culture on Saturday evening, so we all sauntered along for a performance of Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes at the Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank. 
(OK. I know that I will have lost some of you already, but stick with it. After all, Punk Rock HR and Acoustic HR shouldn't have a monopoly on the blogosphere, should they!)
The performance was good. Conductor Vladimir Jurowski waved his stick at the orchestra and they responded to his bidding. The solo singers and large choir gave it loads. The audience were impressed and gave the entire cast a rapturous ovation.  We all thought that we'd had a decent night out. 
But apparently we'd only experienced a fraction of what The Experts had experienced. 
Writing in The Arts Desk, David Nice (Mmm .. lovely name...) opined that "Jurowski blinded us with magnesium-flare projections of Britten’s sparest sounds, London Philharmonic strings lean and hungry"  ("Presumably something that came out of the reviewers arse since he's so far up it" as one of my recently acquired twitterchums put it so succinctly)
And similarly, Edward Seckerson waxed lyrical and observed that, "Interestingly enough, the other storm – the one in Grimes’ soul which vents during the act two Passacaglia – was Jurowski’s other physical and emotional climacteric."
Clearly the HR Case Studies Team is made up of a bunch of Philistines, as the magnesium-flare projections went completely unobserved, and we didn't even get a whiff of the emotional climacteric.
OK, I'm sure you get the point. Both these reviews are full of utterly pretentious nonsense that alienates a large section of the population. Far from encouraging the uninitiated to participate in (actually, the most appropriate word is "enjoy") such performances, they portray (in this case) classical music as something that can only be REALLY understood by the inner circle of the cognoscenti with access to The Hidden Knowledge. 
Of course, in the down-to-earth world of HR, we're never guilty of such obscure, exclusive terminology, are we?
We never talk of "leveraging Web 2.0 technology in enhancing our internal human capital" do we? (I think that one is "online training courses")
The words "ensuring effective on-boarding of employees through a cross-functional welcome programme to achieve rapid alignment with organisational values" are never on our lips, are they? (In the Good Old Days, that was what we used to call "Induction")
We never send a promotional e-mail to prospective clients talking of our "bar-raising performance management methodology which integrates with our international employee participation and engagement portal" do we? (No bloody idea what that one was about, but I've still got the mail if it's your sort of thing)
It's sad to say that within HR we are prone to talk the same sort of bollocks that is spoken by those we criticise, aren't we? ("Why can't the guys in IT just say what they mean" as we often refrain.)
But using such obscure terminology doesn't help demystify the HR profession one little bit. 
Nor does it make you appear clever. It makes you look pretentious. 
And we wouldn't want that, would we?
Keep it simple, boys and girls.


  1. Oh Graham - you did make me smile :-)

    Judith Davey

  2. No truer words can be spoken on the topic. I also love any good post with the word "bollocks". :) Great reminder.