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The HR Director DNA Map - New Series Starting at the Capitalist...

Lots of research has been conducted through the years about the best way to spot children with potential.  Whether the area of focus is art, music, athletics or just raw academic talent, everyone's evaluating children to find the special talent/savant.  Or the kid that can just plain rock it.

Why doesn't anyone search the seventh grade for the kid who will be the best HR Director?Dna

Because that would be one of the most BORING topics known to humanity - that's why...

Here's how the conversation would go. 

Parent #1 - Johnny really seems to have taken to the violin.  We took him down to the performing arts school and he'll be attending a special class in the fall. 

Parent #2 - You know, that's funny you say that.  We just had Ricky tested, and as it turns out, he's slated to become a world-class HR Director.  He's serving as a HR Representative for the local non-profit's benefits plan while he wraps up Junior High.

Parent #3 - [Says nothing, walks away slowly].

See what I mean?  It just doesn't fit.  It seems a little desperate as a follow up to the next great pianist or Jeter.

But that doesn't mean you should be thinking about the raw traits that best typify a world class HR Director/HR Manager.  To get your creative juices flowing, I'm starting a series called the "HR Director DNA Map", where we'll talk about the skills most necessary, and when present, most likely to result in a successful HR Director in the brave new world in which we live.

How many strands are there to a DNA double helix?  22?  23?  I guess I've got time to figure that out.  Hope I can come up with that many. 


Ann Bares


I love this post. Reminds me of the time I volunteered as a speaker at Career Day at my son's Middle School. My presentation was sandwiched between an airline pilot (who brought in an enormous model airplane as a prop) and a dog trainer (who brought in an enormous dog as a prop). I never stood a chance.


Why the fuss over what makes a great HR Director? It's just another position of extreme importance to an organization that doesn't get the credit it deserves.

I would categorize an effective HR Director as a decorated, war-scarred soldier who has surpassed many tours of duty. In no other corporate position does the environment in which HR works change as much as it does. You have new and everchanging legislation, a new and everchanging generation of workforce, continual expansion and retraction of the business segment. And out of all of that, companies ask one individual to lead the entire HR process, whether it be an army of 1 for smaller companies or a entire regiment for a larger corporation.

I always think back of a poster we once had hanging up in our HR Department that showed the balancing act put forth by the HR Team. It shows a high-wire act with a dog on bottom, then a cat balancing on the dog's shoulders, then a rabbit balancing on the cat's shoulders with a mouse on top of the rabbit. There were at least 3 to 5 levels, all balancing on top of each other - sort of like what you'd expect to see in the circus. If you ever wonder about how HR keeps everything together, just play that scene over in your mind time and time again. It will help you envision the world of HR if you are ever daring enough to be a part of it.

What makes a good HR Director? A lot of battle scars, the ability to pick yourself up after being shot multiple times and a great Therapist. Any good HR Director who says otherwise is pulling your chain.

Wally Bock

Interesting post, Kris, except you used the "T" word: traits. I don't care about traits. Traits are an emergent property in the system. I DO care about behaviors. What do world-class HR directors say and do? If we can identify those things we can teach others to do them as well.

Frank Giancola

Which occupation has the most in common with an HR airline pilot or a dog trainer?

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