Saturday, January 27, 2007

Gelthar the Annihilator’s Guide to Effective Human Resources Management

Gelthar (‘the Annihilator’) was a Danish Viking Chieftain prominent around the middle of the ninth century AD. He is known principally for two things: the merciless siege of Finnbrook in Northern England, in which the departing defenders were put to the sword after they had already been guaranteed safe passage; and his Guide to Effective Human Resources Management which was translated from Old Danish in 1962 by Professor Arne Sorenstrom of the Trondheim Technical University.

The following are some of the better known excerpts from his Guide

On an under-performing warrior
A warrior who does not slay his requisite number of foes or whose rape or pillage is below the required level can be a serious problem for the whole Viking band. In more traditional times, the man would simply have been beheaded or tossed overboard. Today this is regarded as unsatisfactory as it is both insensitive to underlying structural difficulties which may be causing the underperformance and it may have further deleterious effects on tribe morale.

It is therefore important to learn the reasons for the warrior’s lack of capacity: it may be trouble with his wife or a relative, it may be the curse of a witch or a troll, it may be a lack of confidence in his own abilities. Once discovered, a problem can be dealt with. This will probably involve a great deal of torture.

And if a warrior’s problem is genuinely laziness or a poor attitude of some kind, his ritual execution can be a peculiarly bonding experience for the whole ship.

On Equality of Opportunity
It is important that gender be no barrier to equivalent treatment. Women should be slaughtered as readily as their male kin-folk. Similarly, men should be considered when Vikings are embarking upon the ‘raping phase’ of an expedition. Put simply, this is what civilized people mean when they talk about ‘modernity’.

Work-Life Balance
In older times, a Viking band could be away for up to year during which time they would no contact with their families and their home communities – little or no thought was given to non-warrior aspects of a Viking’s life. Today, we are more advanced. We recognize that we must make space for other elements of life: love, family, community, happiness, fulfillment. After all, we pillage to live, not live to pillage.

And by allowing for a proper work-life balance, we make for a more well-rounded Viking warrior who is more resilient to physical and psychological knocks and who is better emotionally equipped to form potentially life-saving bonds with his comrades.

So, after much consideration, we have settled upon the following three strategies for looking after ‘the whole Viking’: (1) allow prostitutes to be included roster; (2) encourage the taking and repatriation of slaves – nothing generates a sense of ship-board domesticity faster than the integration of slaves into ship life and their consequent adorable grumbling; and (3) a father-son Viking mentoring program – why leave all of your family behind when you can take one or more sons with you? There is no greater pleasure than being there for your boy’s first massacre or seeing the glint in his eye as he fires a monastery after grabbing a golden communion chalice from a smashed altar (and it may well bring a tear to your eye as it does mine, now. There is no shame in admitting such feelings!)

(Ed – thankfully, in Australia in 2007, we have come a long way since those barbaric times and our humane treatment of our workplace continues to advance with each passing year!)

1 comment:

redcap said...

Gelthar didn't die in th dark ages. He's still the HR manager at a place I worked recently.