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National Association of Counties • Washington, D.C.      Vol. 34, No. 7 • April 8 , 2002

The H.R. Doctor Is In

The Future of HR...
Where Will the Next HR Doctors Come From?

Kevin Kelleher
Guest author

I had a wonderful opportunity to co-teach a Public Personnel Administration undergraduate college course with the HR Doctor, Phil Rosenberg. After one particularly uneventful class meeting, amid the blank stares and unenthusiastic participation, I wondered to myself where will the next wave of enthusiastic human resources professionals come from? In pondering this question, I first got depressed, then I became apathetic, finally I realized the answer is simple: the future HR professionals come from us!

Human Resource professionals are made, not born. While many skills may be innate, such as the sixth sense the HR Doctor wrote about (available at:, a complete HR professional is a result of many years of learning through various experiences.

A key experience in the development of any HR professional is the ability to learn from other HR professionals. These learning experiences can take many forms and, if we are committed to continuing the high level of the human resource profession, we, as current human resources professionals, need to reach out and ensure that the future is preserved. Outreach can be in many forms and includes the following:

Use an Intern
Intern programs, whether formalized or not, are good sources to train future HR professionals. They are also an inexpensive way of getting much needed assistance. Contact the placement office at local colleges and universities for interested individuals who want to get hands on experience in the real world, while you get help cheap.

Like the emergency room television shows on the Learning Channel, shadowing allows individuals to ride along and observe what real HR professionals do. The ability to show individuals first-hand what is required of HR professionals not only provides a learning experience for future HR professionals but also provides a better understanding of the importance of HR to non-believers.

Whether your organization has a formal mentoring program or you participate in a program with a local charitable organization such as the Boys/Girls Club, mentoring provides one-on-one guidance to individuals not only in HR but in all areas of life.

A big part of the HR professional is to impart HR knowledge and philosophies to others. Take the opportunity to educate. Whether to a class of undergraduate students in a public personnel administration or your organization’s supervisors, education is a key. It’s amazing how receptive people can be if given the information necessary to be successful. With proper training anyone could be an honorary HR professional — wouldn’t that be a wonderful world to live in?

Of course, any outreach or imparting of HR philosophy is worthwhile, even to non-HR professionals or non-HR wannabes, because the HR philosophy is simple and can be used in everyday life. That philosophy is treat others as you would like to be treated — The Golden Rule.

A different way to say the same thing is respect. This is a very basic message every one could practice, from the HR professional to the person standing behind you in line at the local supermarket. Many HR problems can be avoided if people practiced respect and allowed individuals some human dignity.

We should never stop imparting this core value to future HR professionals or society in general. This brings me back to the class of tired undergraduate students that I had the opportunity to teach. It is my responsibility, shared with all other current HR professionals, to teach the values of HR administration and to awaken them with a passion and enthusiasm for the HR profession. This is what it will take to ensure the success of the profession for years to come. Accept the challenge! I know I have.