I want to be a bit nostalgic today. The very first article I ever published on HR Bartender was based on something written by Kris Dunn, chief human resources author at Kinetix and founder of the wildly popular blogs The HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent.
The reason I’m bringing this up is because that very first article talked about our actions speaking louder than words. And all these years later, that old cliché still rings true. As HR professionals, we need to figure out what we want to be known for and demonstrate it with our actions. The good news is we don’t have to figure it out all on our own.
Kris Dunn has written a new book titled “The 9 Faces of HR: A Disruptor’s Guide to Mastering Innovation and Driving Real Change”. The book does a deep dive into career development for human resources professionals. This is something I don’t believe that we spend a lot of time doing because we’re so busy taking care of everyone else in the company. So, I asked Kris if he would share with us his insights and thankfully, he said yes.
Kris, congratulations on the success of your book, “The 9 Faces of HR”. For those people who haven’t picked up a copy yet, tell us why you wrote this book?
[Dunn] Thanks for your interest in ‘The 9 Faces of HR’! I wrote the book because I felt like the world of HR needed a career guidebook. If there’s one thing that’s constant in our current world of work, it’s change. In our desire to help others through environments with massive change, we’ve forgotten to take care of ourselves in HR.
The world’s moving pretty fast these days. I have a lot of examples in my own network of HR pros at all levels being impacted by change. I believe 100% they could have avoided layoffs, built better relationships across their organization and more – if only they were aware of the signals they were sending about change and innovation.
My second goal was to write a book that’s more entertaining than the average HR book. The 9 Faces was a blast to write and hopefully, readers will find it educational and enjoyable.
The “9 Faces” as it’s explained in the book is similar to the traditional 9-box grid, which many HR professionals will be familiar with. But I’m dying to know, how did you come up with the names for the 9 Faces?
[Dunn] Ha – you know how I came up with the names – I just looked around and decided what to call people with very specific worldviews. Most people who read the book automatically recognize the faces, because they’ve seen them all before in the world of HR. Everyone knows the ‘Cop’, the ‘Judge’ and the ‘Assassin’. I might have had to brainstorm a bit more on the others, but I think I found names that automatically give the reader a sense of the person/persona they’re looking at.
You could have done the naming idependent of me and there’s a good chance 3 or 4 of the 9 names are the same. We know these characters well in the world of HR!
I’m always drawn to books like yours because I want to find out “What Face am I?” How would you suggest someone go through that self-discovery process?
[Dunn] There are good instructions in the book for this and it’s pretty easy.
- Simply find a behavioral assessment you have access to (preferably with a cognitive component) and go through that assessment.
- Once you’ve completed that, locate your scores for cognitive, assertiveness, rules orientation, and detail orientation and browse the chapters that detail each of the 9 Faces.
- Find a profile that matches you and cross reference to make sure you’re at the right career level and presto – you’ve got a hot take regarding which of the 9 Faces you are.
I’m also available to put anyone who buys the book through our house assessment platform and will share the results and give a reading on which face that person is. Just ping me!
The book doesn’t just talk about the “9 Faces”. It provides a playbook for taking ownership for your career development. Once I understand what Face I am, how should I use this book to develop my career goals?
[Dunn] The key is to use your knowledge/self-awareness of your persona to understand your natural state and the signals you put off. Once you understand that and read the book, you’ll understand that in organizations with change (and who doesn’t have change?), every day is a test. People are constantly evaluating you to understand if you’re fast enough, innovative enough, etc. Related – find a way to say ‘yes’ more, even when you want to say ‘no’.
Last question. I know a lot of people will read this book and want to have their teams do the same. But I don’t know that senior leaders always do a good job of socializing books, articles, etc. around the office. What tips would you give to someone who wants to push this message out into their organization?
[Dunn] I’ve had a lot of HR leaders already buy the book for their teams, with the majority of those really running their own book club – whether they know they’re doing it or not. So, buy the book and have your team read 3-4 chapters at a time and then open it up for conversation:
- What did they like?
- What do they call BS on?
Early reports suggest this type of open-ended session is pretty dynamic and also meaningful to get HR team members to consider how they are viewed by client groups.
Of course, the book title and the cover draw HR pros in – as you stated earlier. Everyone wants to know which face they are – as well as which faces the people they love (and hate) in the world of HR are as well.
A HUGE thanks to Kris to sharing his knowledge and experience with us. I know you’re going to want to pick up a copy of his book “The 9 Faces of HR” after reading this interview. You can find it on Amazon.
My big takeaway from “The 9 Faces of HR” book is that, as HR pros, we need to remember that our professional development is important. If we want our organizations to succeed, we need to hire, engage, and retain the best employees. That means having a strong HR function.14