By Laurie Ruettimann
Back in the day, I used to have a real job. I was a Human Resources generalist.
It was my job to be bossy, cranky, and mean. I had a permanent scowl on my face. I was paid a 20 percent bonus if I stopped everyone else from having fun.
There was a woman in my client group who was totally unlike me. She was very social and fun. She planned meet-ups. She coordinated lunches. She hosted Pampered Chef Parties for the ladies in our office — complete with boxes of wine and frozen canapés from Sam’s Club.
Those parties were well attended and rumored to be kind of fun. One time, this employee even invited me to buy Chinese-made kitchen gadgets and cheap, plastic cookware.
Now I don’t begrudge a girl’s night out, and I can always use more ramekins, but this employee used her business e-mail address to send me an invitation.
The “other people” do it defense
I sat on the message for a day because I felt conflicted. On the one hand, I was honored that an employee liked someone in Human Resources enough to send an invite to a party. On the other hand, our company had a no solicitation policy to avoid the peer pressure to donate, pressure to buy boxes and boxes of cookies, and pressure to join unions.
I decided to talk to this employee as a peer. Very casually, I said, “Betty, I really appreciate your invitation. So thoughtful. Thank you. I can’t attend, and you know you can’t send out Pampered Chef e-mail messages.”
Betty was shocked.
She said, “What do you mean I can’t send out those invites? Other people do it.”
Great. The ‘other people’ defense.
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I explained our company’s non-solicitation policy and said, “Listen, Betty, I’m not mad. The world isn’t going to end. And I need a new pizza stone, so I might buy one from your Pampered Chef catalogue. You can’t send those party invites out to anyone at work. It’s in the handbook. Do you understand what I’m telling you?”
She said, “I was just trying to be your friend, Laurie.”
Right. My friend.
Unfortunately, I was silent for a beat too long and she added, “This is why nobody likes you.”
HR doesn’t want to be the bad guy
Nice. Great. Nobody likes me, but nobody ever likes the HR chick in the office. I am tough enough to stay on point and I reminded the employee that selling anything — popcorn, wrapping paper, magazine subscriptions — violates our non-solicitation policy. And I wasn’t going to buy that pizza stone after all.
Now that Girl Scout Cookie season is upon us, I want TLNT readers to remember three things:
- You probably can’t sell your Girl Scout cookies at work;
- Your HR department doesn’t want to be the bad guy; and,
- I like Thin Mints.
Give me two boxes. Just sell them to me outside of work.