Success in HR Does Not Define You. But Here’s Who Does.

by Alan Collins

Success in HR does not define you.

YOU define success in HR.


There are two HR people who illustrate this perfectly.

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Here’s person #1.

She’s a brilliant CHRO who makes a ton of money.

How do I know that? Because I’ve known her for years and saw her total comp package published in her firm’s 10-k filing for shareholders.

Every person I know, including me, considers her to be wildly successful.

But guess what? A few weeks ago, over an informal coffee, she shocked me by confessing that:

“I love HR. But I’m burnt out in this job, frustrated and doing work I hate. I’m so busy I haven’t dated anyone in a year and I’m woefully out of shape. Frankly, I haven’t achieved yet what I want from my career and definitely don’t consider myself a success.”

Wow, I thought. One of the highest ranking HR people I know doesn’t consider herself a success.

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On the other hand, there’s person #2.

He’s an HR manager, a buddy of mine, who works five levels below her in a different organization.

Despite the pandemic, he bikes twice a week, collects antiques and is the most upbeat guys I’ve ever met.

He’s been in the same HR job for 3 years and loves it.

His clients adore him and rave about his work.

He’s not worried about where his next promotion is coming from.

He’s got a huge network and confident that if he ever wants to land another HR role, it won’t be a problem.

He considers himself HUGELY successful.

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What’s the point?

It’s pretty straightforward.

Don’t get trapped by SOMEONE ELSE’S definition of what success in our profession should be.

Some of us work hard to climb someone else’s ladder of success in HR…or find out that ladder is leaning up against the wrong wall!

A suggestion:

What does it mean for YOU?

Success in HR is whatever YOU say it is.

Defining what you really want from your career in HR can be life-changing.

Don’t let someone else decide it for you.

Just sayin’.

Thoughts?  Feel free to share them below by clicking HERE.

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Want more brutally candid ideas for moving your HR career forward successfully, then check out:  WINNING BIG IN HR: 100+ Powerful Strategies For Accomplishing Great Results Faster & Getting Your Clients To Rave About You As A Human Resources Professional!   For more detailed information about this book, go HERE.


…Or if you’re a new HR leader who wants to tap into more blunt, candid ideas for accelerating your success in your new role, then check out:  THE NEW HR LEADER’S FIRST 100 DAYS: How To Start Strong, Hit The Ground Running & ACHIEVE SUCCESS FASTER As A New Human Resources Manager, Director and VP.  You can get more details HERE.

About the author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of a variety of best selling books for HR professionals including WINNING BIG IN HR and THE NEW HR LEADER’S FIRST 100 DAYS. He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.

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One Response to “Success in HR Does Not Define You. But Here’s Who Does.”

  1. Cindy O'Dea Says:

    This resonates so much with me at the moment. It’s easy to be envious of other people’s ‘success’ but comparison is the thief of joy and your story is not their story. A higher salary might be attractive but for me work flexibility, a great team and a short commute are king.