Going for It: Rapid Reinvention

From high school coach to CEO

Put on your thinking caps. Today, we'll get a lesson in human resources management from Jim Haudan, CEO of Root Learning, who has helped to motivate employees at companies like AOL, NASA and Booze Allen Hamilton to resolve problems affecting their success. His company, incorporated in 1993, has offices in Chicago, Toledo and London. One popular tool used by Root Learning are Haudan's Learning Map visuals, colorful graphics produced to break down complex corporate strategies for employees. He was recently featured at the HR EDGE conference in McLean, sponsored by the Washington Technical Personnel Forum, which brought together some of the area's leading human relations managers.

ATL: You were once a high school football coach. Where and what made you give that up?

JH: I was a coach at Toledo Central Catholic High School. While I enjoyed coaching high school students, I was more excited about coaching in a business environment on the topic of servant leadership. I was also influenced by Tom Peters' book, In Search of Excellence. At its core, it instills ways for us to lead, inspire and create results.

ATL:  How did you move from coaching into business?

JH: I became the assistant to the superintendent of Catholic schools. So the blend of education and business really interested me. This was the beginning of putting things together that don't go together, breakthrough thinking. At the time, the breakthrough thinking was to think of the students and parents as customers and education as a service. Also, there was a lunacy in education of labeling the customer, students, as disabled, and nowhere else do we do this.

ATL: Often, the focus is on the struggles of employees, but as the messenger of bad news HR professionals have it tough how. What challenges are HR pros facing? 

JH: The first challenge is that there are still toxic levels of anxiety in organizations where people aren't sure about their company and their future in it. HR's challenge is at the very same time to represent the honesty and reality of an uncertain marketplace, while engaging people to take the risks necessary to build the company and the value of the future. The obvious challenge is to make it safe to take risks and lead change in the face of uncertainty and anxiety. They can over come those challenges by creating an environment where it's safe to tell the truth, for people to say what they think and feel and being honest themselves.

Tomorrow, Hauden will share HR trends for next year and talk about his success. I'm off to tour a new store and you know how I hate to shop! Catch up with me on Facebook and Twitter!  


Avis Thomas-Lester

 |  October 13, 2010; 6:50 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Aim high | Next: More with HR expert Jim Haudan

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