Feb 8, 2007

HR's multiple personality disorder

Remember I said something on the lines of HR being a paradoxical job?

Prasad looks at a multiple personality disorder that certain HR professionals seem to exhibit:

During most of their time in office 'Personality 1' (let us call it P1, the dominant personality) is in operation. This involves carrying out their job related activities in a manner that does not reflect application of behavioral science theories/principles in any significant way.

Once in a while another personality (let us call it P2) surfaces. When this happens the HR professional gathers other HR professionals in the team, gets into a meeting room and talks about behavioral science principles/theories and their implications for HR practices.

True to the nature of the disorder, P2 vanishes as soon as one gets back to day-to-day HR work and P1 takes over. Of course there are other avenues for P2 to surface including HR conferences, seminars etc. By the way, blogs might also provide an opportunity for P2 to surface !!!

Why is this the case?

My personal take on the issue is that often when one is caught up in 'operational tasks' the "process orientedness" in the role takes over. The scare of metrics, reports, influencing the business leaders to get the annual budget approved, all these activities don't let the "conceptual or theoretical" thoughts creep in. Even if they do creep in, they are quickly banished to the corner.

However, when such HR professionals reflect and discuss (and boy, can they discuss!!) their ability to question "fundamental issues" comes to the fore. As facilitators of meaning, they often end up questioning themselves.

Maybe, as Prasad hints, this is a way for them to recharge their batteries.


  1. This is true not just for HR but all other professions. A good professional must be aware about the basics fundamental principles of the subject. One needs to be aware of the theoretic concepts but must think beyond and in terms of the operational and external realities to improvise and make maximum impact.

  2. Very Relevant! Bottomline, is the ability to use available skills / mindsets to complete a task operational or foundation building.

    Discussions are therapeutic and try to put the team on a similar platform for the way forward

    Personality types mutiple in nature can coexist

    Roma Ahuja
    Executive Search Consultant

  3. I like that you are looking at human resources. I get a lot of comments from HR professionals on my blog. I find there are two types: Those who are innovative, forward thinking and take initiative to create change in the workplace. The other type of HR professional is a rule enforcer who is reactive to individuals in the company instead of helping to lead the company. I think the first type add a lot more to the workplace -- and the discussion about the workplace.

  4. HMMM .... I've always found it interesting that this very real and very serious illness is considered free game for these sorts of discussion.

    Having a wide array of social / professional skills that you are able to use in different settings is really NOTHING like living with MPD (now called disociative identity disorder).

    Ya might re-think your analogies next time.