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Friday, February 15, 2008
Write To The Editor Reprints

I read your story assessing the personalities of HR Executives compared to other executives.  The differences that the study came up with make sense to me given the nature and role of an HR Executive. 

While sitting at the table with other executives and demonstrating the same level of skill and business knowledge other executives possess for example is very important, possessing empathy and having the ability to successfully resolve conflict for example are critical skills for an HR Executive. 

I would question whether or not some of the other executives could be more effective if they possess some of the same traits that an HR Executive possesses in attracting and retaining critical talent for example as we are faced with diminished supplies of experienced and capable technical and managerial talent or in preventing conflict from arising in the first place by being less passive aggressive and manipulative. 

Although other executives are also assumed to be managers of people they often are lacking in the ability to deal effectively with people and often an HR Executive spends enormous amounts of time assisting other executives in resolving misunderstandings with their staff or bridging gaps in communication to mitigate financial liabilities for the company and facilitate mutually positive outcomes for an employee, executive and the company.  These skills make them very effective.

While I appreciate the work that was done in the article to compare the personalities of executives, I felt the article implied that HR executives should change their personalities and in the context of their role and what contribution they make to the organization I would disagree.  These differences enable them to do the role that they do so well.  These differences enable them to deal with the very real human side of business ? the people / human beings. 

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Our modern society and especially business appears to be afraid to acknowledge that employees are human beings so we label them as "human capital" or "human resources" or "human assets" applying inanimate language to them.  However, dealing with human beings is not like dealing with inanimate objects.  It requires empathy, and yes strategic thinking, and intuition, and all of these other personality traits that HR executives possess.  Thank goodness for that.

Joyce Douglas

Director, HR International Technical Services


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