HR 'Bill and Pete'​ Style – A Win/Win for Organisations and Employees

Jan 31, 2019
Blog - HR 'Bill and Pete'​ Style

How a children’s story made me reflect on what great HR looks like...

My eldest daughter Esther, now 16, has always been an avid book worm.  As a child she loved us to read her stories.  One of her favourites was about the adventures of Bill the crocodile and Pete the bird. Pete also happens to be Bill's toothbrush (never leave home without one!).

As I read the story, I had an “Ah Ha!” moment.  Is this not a great picture of the symbiotic and win/win relationship that organisations should have with their employees?  Both need each other.  Both should enrich each other in a mutually interdependent and advantageous manner.

That said, trust and cooperation are needed in order for both to profit from the relationship.

The mouth of the crocodile – which I see as the business or organisation – is potentially a dangerous place.  Sharp teeth can seriously hurt little birds, or toothbrushes, at work.  Do you find yourself thinking of a few snappy crocodiles that you or others may have encountered? Maybe that "crocodile" was embodied in the form of a toxic or temperamental line manager or leader?

The bird – or toothbrush – has to trust the crocodile.  If the trust is breached and the jaws close then not only the bird loses.  The crocodile loses out with bad breath and a toothache.  If snappy jaw mishaps were to happen too often then I guess the birds – like employees - would most probably disengage and look elsewhere to make a living.  Note, however, that the “toothbrush” really does have to get to work to benefit from this relationship.  Lazy or ineffective birds go hungry.  Toothbrushes must master their strokes to stay well fed.

The crocodile needs the bird.  The bird needs the crocodile.  Both have to learn to collaborate and cooperate.  Both are winners when this takes place.

Is this book really just about two wonderful cartoon characters going on an adventurous holiday? Perhaps it is also a business book in disguise? Perhaps Bill and Pete can teach us something about excellence in HR and Organisational Effectiveness?  Don’t try explaining that to a two year old though…