The Jukebox Heroes of HR

“…now he needs to keep rockin’, he just can’t stop. Gotta keep on rockin’, that boy has got to stay on top…and be a juke box hero, got stars in his eyes…” – Foreigner, Jukebox Hero

Be disruptive, right? A rock and roll hero who makes melodic magic and transforms the organization. No, I’m not talking about starting water cooler “bar fights” in the break room, or incessantly interrupting colleagues “on stage” during meetings and conference calls.

Disruptive as in upending the status quo.

The legacy “personnel” status quo of people management paperwork. Yes, we hear the “disrupt” buzzword a lot these days in business, especially in the greater and magical Silicon Valley woods where I live, but it’s been making headway in talent management for years. And that’s a good thing.

However, human resources and creative disruption for the better aren’t considered synonymous, although there’s a lot more going on in the world of work than most of us can every really see.

Take an HR executive I know in the HR software industry. At first glance and everyday meetings, he’s a seemingly very conservative person who prides himself on adhering to company guidelines while playing recruiting and hiring pretty straight. Or at least that’s how it appears…

However, he also loves 1980s metal and plays the electric guitar. He’s also done other product development and management stints in during his HR tenure – he knows HR and talent management software better than anyone I know and most of the engineers who developed them in the first place. He’s also played a major role in sales and revenue forecasting. So he knows his industry, the business and who needs to hired for the business.


The reason why his subtle disruption is so powerful for his company. Just the fact that he has deeper business knowledge beyond the HR status quo means he can and does make a bigger difference in the development and growth of the entire company.

And it never hurts when you like to rock. Really, it never does.

Which is why the two lessons I learned this week included:

1. Learn some new chords. When I was seven I started learning how to play guitar, and one of the most painful things to do was to toughen up my raw fingertips in learning more chords than C, G and F. HR folks who truly transform themselves, their teams and their companies continuously learn new chords about their company and industry, all the while ensuring the music lessons are open to everyone else as well. Cross-training isn’t new, but the benefits resonant like sweet Marshall amp feedback.

2. Write a rock opera. Now that the incremental changes are in play, the learned chords tagging one another on the business balance (music) sheets, that’s when the monumental changes can occur: that’s where HR helps to write the rock opera that changes the very nature of how it sources and recruits, how it hires and onboard, how it develops and measures human performance – how it makes beautiful music, keeping it atop the business leader charts.

What’s clear is that HR can be creative and broadly focused versus the stereotype of being narrow and siloed, expressing divergent opinions on many facets of the human resources field. I’ve met many inspiring and change-making HR practitioners over the years, some more overtly obvious that others.

This is why the DisruptHR movement is so important today. A series of vibrant inspirational and disruptive talks from practitioners and HR-industry thought leaders about how HR can and should be vibrant, active and intimately raw and real for the better.

Again with the progressive rocking on.

photo credit: MiiiSH via photopin cc