The Diva | HR Memories

snoopydanceI hate divas. They are amusing at a cocktail party but that’s about it. If you work with one, you can get major migraines.

On one job, a diva was hired into an entry-level position before I was promoted to department head. I didn’t hire her and she wouldn’t have been my choice.

She was fresh out of school. She graduated in the ‘80s. She had outrageous work expectations — corner office with windows, top salary, perks, the whole nine yards. None of which came with the job.

Prior to us, her experience was as a waitress. I have a lot of respect for waitresses as I don’t think I could do it. It requires you to be nice to people all the time. That would be a stretch for me. I thought it would be a stretch for her too but it turns out that she perfected her manipulation skills there. She could get a tip out of a homeless person.

That experience trained her to call everyone “honey” or “hon.” It took the better part of two years to get her to stop calling employees “hon.” We were human resources, we were supposed to sound professional!

There were some positive things about her. She had great ideas. Really! She just didn’t like the follow through required. She wasn’t fond of real work — just the idea part.

It was her suggestion to initiate a health fair but four days before the first one, she had nothing planned. That required all of us to pitch in to come up with interesting information and activities.

She also promoted a company picnic. It was a lot of work for our small department. With a full commitment from my staff I got the approval and we started the work. That’s when she put in her request for a week’s vacation. Yes, you guessed it. She was out the week of the picnic. I came close to firing her for that one especially after another HR person resigned to move with her husband leaving me with ALL the picnic work. Fortunately I had friends in other departments who helped out.

She also didn’t like to be checked on. My routine auditing of her work (also called snooping) found boxes of filing along with other routine undone work. We would have a chat and everything would be fine for a few months. Then boredom would set in again.

She was with us for about 2-1/2 years but it sometimes seemed like an eternity. She was moody and sometimes wouldn’t talk to anyone for days except for business reasons. There was always an undercurrent of unpleasantness but nothing you could document.

After she left I found filing (which she hated worse than not having an office) squirreled away all over. It took a temporary helper two weeks to get it up to date. You can be sure I was much more vigilant after that experience.

It was unfortunate because she was smart and capable. She could talk to employees and was quick to pick up the more complicated aspects of benefits and compensation. She just wanted to move into a higher management position right out of school without the experience necessary.

Believe me, experience with people is necessary in this field. You get involved in the damdest situations. You have to know “when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.” No one likes to “pay their dues” but experience is what makes you valuable as an employee.

The odd part is that although I was relieved when she resigned, her co-worker did a snoopy dance. I am talking major celebration here. The only thing missing was the mariachi band and the balloons. I always thought they were friends.

I am not the only one who doesn’t like to work with divas.

17 thoughts on “The Diva | HR Memories

  1. The really clever ones let others do all the work … and, then, take all the credit. That can be even harder to live and work with. It’s good you discovered the unfiled filing. In some businesses, that missing paperwork could be a real disaster.

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    • Especially in HR. The person before her “lost” a performance review for a person we terminated. The employee was going to sue so it was critical to have. The HR person got fired for insubordination and in cleaning out her drawers I found the review in the bottom. Some people just don’t like to file. I don’t either but if you don’t keep on top of it, it becomes a real big job.

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  2. Divas are always funny in hindsight. I love your observation that she could get a tip out of a homeless person. That was brilliant. Like you a diva goes through me like a hot poker. It’s great if they can really sing and pack the house to make you money; no so much when they are all sizzle and no steak. Great post…right in my wheel house!

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    • I thought so too. I showed a lot of reserve! Her excuse was that her family rented a house at the shore. Don’t know for sure. People lie when the truth doesn’t work for them. That’s something I did learn in HR.

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  3. Because I am so good at rationalizing….she was an extreme introvert that had not come to recognize it or plan for it. Great idea to have a social event, but then the idea of actually having to talk to people wigged her out…wait, the filing, ok, so, never mind, diva it is. 8)

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    • Love that! I don’t know for sure if she was an introvert or extrovert because she needed a lot of space and alone time but also liked to party with people. However, she was egocentric in a childlike way.

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  4. These are the worst-the ones who are smart and capable but can’t see their hand in front of their face. And then there’s always the peer diva-the one who claims to work so much harder than the other managers. Yes, the one who works a grueling 4 hours a day and spends the other 4 crabbing about how busy she is…

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    • Oh yes, had one of those in another job. Crackerjack typist but wanted to be paid for every keystroke. No tolerance for other worker’s skill levels and yes, lots of time complaining about it too.

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  5. Memories… oh those precious memories of my office life. There are always going to be divas. I worked once not that many years ago with a young woman who kept calling me ‘Baby.’ This was in the South, where calling people ‘Baby’ is very often heard, but in the workplace??? To an ELDER such as myself? My supervisor called the young one aside and told her to stop it, which I appreciated. I guess professionalism has to be learned. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I enjoyed the read!

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