July, 2018

5 Founding Fathers and Their HR Positions

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5 Founding Fathers and What Their HR Positions Would Be

The Fourth of July is the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which declared once and for all the United States were an independent power. The Founding Fathers who helped write it had great influence in helping shape and mold the foundations of our country after the Revolution, one that has lasted for 242 years.

If you think about it, the Founding Fathers were a lot like today’s HR professionals who help shape and mold company culture. Here are the HR jobs we think five of the Founding Fathers would have in today’s business world:
Ben Franklin

1. Benjamin Franklin: Recruitment and Staffing Manager

We all know who Benjamin Franklin is. We’ve grown up hearing the tales about his famous Kite Experiment and his image is immortalized on the $100 bill. He was also the most famous American in the 18th Century - a fame he used to help recruit France to the American cause during the Revolution. That’s why Ben Franklin would be perfect for a recruiting and staffing position in today’s HR world.

Much like modern-day recruiters, Franklin had to use his relationship-building and negotiation skills to outline the Treaty of Alliance with France in 1778, publicly declaring France an ally of the American Revolution. He was a resourceful diplomat, a skill which makes for a great recruiter. Franklin was also a master communicator; he could communicate through print and was reportedly an excellent spokesman. And any successful recruiter will tell you the best ones must be goal-oriented multitaskers, empathetic listeners, and intelligent decision-makers. All of which are qualities exhibited by Mr. Franklin during his lifetime.

Fun Facts About Benjamin Franklin:

  • He was the only founding father to have signed all four key documents that helped establish the United States: the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris to establish peace with Great Britain (1783), and the U.S. Constitution (1787).
  • He never patented any of his inventions like the bifocals and the lightning rod because he believed: “…we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.”
  • He became a vegetarian for a while when he was 16 years old after reading a digest of Thomas Tryon’s book The Way to Health, Wealth, and Happiness.
John Adams

2. John Adams: Compensation & Benefits Manager

John Adams is most known for serving as the second President of the United States, after serving as George Washington’s Vice President for 8 years. History remembers him as being arrogant because he would oftentimes do what was unpopular for the betterment of the country. One example is when he successfully defended the British soldiers accused for starting the Boston Massacre in 1770, a choice that threatened to end his law practice and personal reputation. Because of his integrity and willingness to do what’s best for people, we believe Adams would be a great compensation and benefits manager.

To be successful in this role, one must be analytical, intelligent, and highly-qualified through various certifications. Compensation and benefits managers must also be able to understand constantly shifting federal and state regulations to decide which benefits program would be best for the organization as a whole based on factors such as salaries and benefits costs to employees. Adams could make the tough decisions that weren’t necessarily easy or popular - making him ideal for a role where decisive decisions need to made that put the interests of the company first.

Fun Facts About John Adams:

  • Adams’ last words were: “Thomas Jefferson still survives,” in reference to he and Jefferson being the last living signers of the Declaration of Independence. What he didn’t know was that Jefferson had passed away earlier that morning - July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration’s signing.
  • While serving as Ambassador to Great Britain in 1783, he worked with Benjamin Franklin and John Jay to negotiate the end of the American Revolution by co-writing the Treaty of Paris.
  • In 1775, Adams nominated George Washington to serve as Commander of the Continental Army; one year later, he nominated Thomas Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Independence.
Alexander Hamilton

3. Alexander Hamilton: Human Resources Assistant

Born on the island of Nevis in 1757, Alexander Hamilton is Revolutionary America’s most famous immigrant and one of the youngest of the Founding Fathers. From his position as Washington’s aide de camp, Hamilton learned skills which would help him during his time as Secretary of Treasury to design the economy as we know it today. Hamilton’s hunger to “rise up” and his unbridled desire to help shape the future of our young country is what would make him a fantastic HR Assistant.

He is known for his passion for public affairs, proactive thinking, and eloquent writing skills - skills in which are desirable for any HR assistant. The experience gained by working as an assistant can set one up for future success as an HR manager - just as Hamilton learned a great deal from Washington serving as his personal secretary during the War. The ability to learn quickly and perform a variety of duties, many of which are outside the job description, are the marks of an admirable HR assistant - and of Alexander Hamilton.

Fun Facts About Alexander Hamilton:

  • Hamilton and Aaron Burr worked together on America’s first murder trial People v. Levi Weeks in 1800. Four years later, Burr would later kill Hamilton in a duel over an “affair of honor.” 
  • He was about twenty years old when he became General Washington’s aide-de-camp. We don’t know Hamilton’s exact age, as there are conflicting reports on his birth year.
  • Hamilton helped Washington draft and edit his Farewell Address in 1798. The Address started the tradition of a two-term Presidency and established a peaceful, voluntary transition of power in the United States. It is still read every year to the Senate at noon on Washington’s birthday, a tradition started by Abraham Lincoln in 1862.
Thomas Jefferson

4. Thomas Jefferson: Employee Relations Specialist

Thomas Jefferson was a true Renaissance Man - he was an architect, musician, lawyer, scholar, and inventor, amongst other things. And clearly, his writing and communication skills were unparalleled. However, his experiences serving as minister to France and as the first Secretary of State would suit him in a role for employee relations in today’s business environment.

Any successful employee relations specialist must be able to have both functional and technical knowledge of the company and those who work within the organization. They must be intelligent, organized, and able to understand and define the rules of the company. They must also be able to identify potential issues within the company and be willing to give advice to management on the employees working under them. Jefferson’s diplomatic and solution-finding abilities would have definitely prepare him for an employee relations role.

Fun Facts About Thomas Jefferson:

  • Jefferson’s home in Virginia, Monticello, is Italian for “little mountain.
  • He was 33 years old when he drafted the Declaration of Independence.
  • Jefferson was good friends with fellow President John Adams; however, their friendship became strained in 1800 when Jefferson defeated Adams for the presidency. They renewed their correspondence in 1811 through a series of letters until their deaths.
george washington

5. George Washington: Director of Human Resources

George Washington is one of the most famous Americans of all time. He’s a man who’s risen to myth and legend, with stories of his noble deeds being told and retold through the centuries. Much like a modern-day Director of Human Resources, Washington was passionate about his work during the American Revolution. He knew how to identify people’s strengths and to strategically coordinate his workforce to best use his employee’s capabilities.

Washington had the ability to develop people, a skill needed in an HR director. And like any capable HR director, he could see beyond the conflicts between others who served with him and find the necessary solution. He was a creative strategist in realizing he didn’t have to win most battles during the Revolution; he just needed to get the spark alive. This creativity and dedication to his people and his country is something all great HR directors express in their day-to-day duties.

Fun Facts About George Washington

  • He was extremely self-conscious of his education, or lack thereof. His plans for a formal, European education ended when he was 11 years old after his father died. Afterward, he found practical knowledge through how-to books and experience.
  • He was actually born on February 11, 1731; however, Britain and its colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar shortly after his birth. As a result, Washington’s birthday was moved a year and 11 days to February 22, 1732.
  • Washington contracted a throat infection while out riding around Mount Vernon on December 13, 1799. His physician drew 80 ounces of blood within 12 hours in an effort to heal him, but it ultimately killed him. However, he survived a number of other diseases including tuberculosis, smallpox, malaria, and pneumonia to name a few.
Though HR may not have existed quite yet during the time our Founding Fathers lived, the roles they played during the Revolution and the founding of our country arguably made them the first HR department. They organized a government, catered to and defended the rights of the people, and cared deeply about the well-being of all citizens of the country. Could you see these Founding Fathers in your HR Department?

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