I was in a team meeting last week when the subject of clowns came up. Some people are scared of them, some people went to a performing arts school where they got into the character of a clown for a full year.
Me? I'm the sick one. The question that came to mind for me was, "if you could be clown, which clown would it be and why? I tweeted that, got some interesting responses and DMs. That process has built to the point where I'm now comfortable releasing my list of the "Top 3 Clowns (Real Ones) to Hire to Run Your HR Department".
I don't mean that in a negative way. Like coaches, movie stars and performing artists, clowns have behavioral traits that would be good to have in your HR leader. They've also got a wide array of props and tricks that might be effective in distracting attention from sliding benefits and salary freezes if your company has been knocked around by this economy.
Here's my list of the TOP 3 Clowns to Hire to Run Your HR Department:
3. Bozo - The gold standard. Develops long term- relationships and is trustworthy. Understands the value of old media, so he's probably good at running print ads. Good choice if you want low risk, medium return.
2. Krusty - The standard from the Simpsons, Krusty's the long-time clown host of Bart and Lisa's favorite TV show, a combination of kiddie variety television hijinks and cartoons including The Itchy & Scratchy Show. Krusty is often portrayed as a burnt out, addiction-riddled smoker who is made miserable by show business but continues on anyway. Strengths - Accessible to the people. Resilient. Not perfect, but approachable and conversational. Nice choice if you've had Gestapo HR for a few years and you're looking for folks to start coming back through the open door.
1. Homey - My personal favorite, Homey, played by Damon Wayans who plays an ex-con who works as a clown (real name Herman Simpson) for his parole agreement, but lashes out at anyone (usually by hitting them on the head with a tennis ball-filled sock) who attempts to make him perform the standard antics of the role - "I don't think so... Homey don't play that!". Near the end of most sketches, Homey would lead a group of children (played by the adult cast members) in a call and response sing-along, which would end with him degenerating into an angry/paranoid rant then intimidating the children into repeating verbatim. Strengths - toughness - great choice if the company has run roughshod over effective people practices and you need someone to reestablish the HR function and not get run over. Great for the manufacturing or Call Center environment.
Here's a clip to show you why a tough clown might make sense for your next HR hire: