1. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Functional HR Department in Hive of Corporate Villainy?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Commandante Lemming, Sep 9, 2016.

    So, I'm running up against the same critique repeatedly for multiple big plot points, and while I think it's somewhat valid, I'm trying to figure out how far to take it.

    My villan is embedded in a corporate hierarchy (head editor of a major cable news network), so she's a big boss, and in a few flashbacks she's a lower level boss (political division editor). I have three-ish people who keep telling me she's unrealistic because in the real world someone would have reported her to HR a long time ago and she'd have been fired.

    So, the question becomes how functional the HR Department needs to be in my hive of corporate villainy - especially in flashbacks before the whole place went to hell in a handbasket. On the one hand, I can see the validity of the critique. On the other hand, I think MOST fictional corporate villains could have been weeded out if they had a functional HR department and/or victims who had actually complained to said HR department (which is another issue). I mean, if Jurassic Park had a solid HR operation, at the very least they'd have gotten rid of the idiot who tried to steal all the embryos.

    That, and having had some interaction with "workplace bullying" groups in the past, I know they tend to advise victims of emotional/verbal abuse NOT to go to HR, because in some companies the HR department works backwards - as an intelligence collection service feeding info to abusive bosses so that they can eliminate "squeaky wheels".

    All that said, I really do not WANT to write a scene where my action-reporter protagonist has to deal with "Jenny from HR" to establish that the HR operation at this place sucks (darn, I just gave the HR character a name and a face).

    Any thoughts? I definitely want it to feel realistic, but I'm also worried that over-considering this angle is a road to hell plot-wise.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016
  2. Ann-Russell
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    Ann-Russell Member

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    Fear of retribution is huge. Perhaps you can show how people whisper about what happened to this-person-or-that after they reported your character. Or you could use the scene with "Jenny from HR" to solidify the character as a villain. She could blackmail/threaten the HR person, etc.

    On a side note, I've worked in places where it is astonishing what those in managerial positions can get away with because the company wants to save some face. Maybe she has to go through some "sensitivity training" or some other bull. Also, if her bullying is more subtle, you have a he said/she said scenario and even if they want to report her, they can't prove anything.

    Just some thoughts :)
     
  3. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good points. Will definitely think about it more.

    I do already have a blackmail angle. The plot currently has the villain slowly buidling a massive blackmail network over the years and using it to get news stories, end careers of reporters she doesn't like, and cover up her own emotionally abusive antics. It just runs up against the twin arguments of "HR would catch her" and/or "Why hasn't anybody called the cops?"

    Of cours intimidation and fear play a big role but, at least back at the beginning when she's a min or boss, I'm thinking I'm going to have to find ways of making her smarter.

    Once she's at the height of her powers I may have the protag try to look up the HR Department and realize that there isn't one :p
     
  4. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's actually terrifying because the General Secretary position was supposed to be an incredibly low-level part of the early Soviet government ... until it was assigned to Joseph Stalin.

    Are you committed to the boss having been the political editor before taking over? It occurs to me that if she used to be Human Resources, then not only would that have given her the start of her blackmail network, but she'd also have had a bit more power over appointing a successor that she'd be able to terrify into submission.
     

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