Humble Beginnings Influenced My HR Career

After some recent reflection, I am convinced that my childhood has had a huge impact on how I consider various circumstances thrown my way as an HR professional. I can’t help but wonder how many others feel the same way.

A few weeks ago, I was driving to pick up some books for the ILSHRM Leadership Conference at our treasurer’s office. I got the idea of taking pictures of some of the homes I grew up in because it was on my way. I thought I might use them to share with my kids one day.

While doing so, the idea of writing this blog post for Women of HR popped in my head because the memories from seeing the homes brought back visions of similar employee circumstances I have had to deal with in the workplace. Some of these circumstances impacted the employee and their co-workers’ performance while others would just come in and share to get whatever was bothering them off their chest and back to work they went.

My experience has helped me to be a better problem solver and listener with employees dealing with adversity of any kind.

Just the number of homes I took a picture of,  eight not counting the three no longer standing or out of state, tells a story. So many employees deal with instability in their life for a number of reasons. For me, I lived in 11 different homes growing up compared to the stability of my 20-year-old (2 homes) and my 11-year-old (1 home).

How many of our employees bounce from home to home? What impact does that have on their job? Psychologists typically only look at your life between the ages of 0-17 as it relates to the impact the experiences between those years makes on the rest of your life. I have a lot of empathy for instability and so much more that employees go through. For example, as I think back to my childhood, I have a much better understanding for employees dealing with:

  • depression
  • instability
  • alcohol and drug abuse
  • emotional and physical abuse
  • divorce
  • abandonment

All of these personal problems have a huge impact on employee performance, attendance, and quality.I think overall my background has helped me be a better more understanding human resources professional. It affects how I handle things and how I communicate with people.

It’s not just what we learn in books or on-the-job that makes us good solid human resources professionals; it’s also what we are made of. Our early beginnings, where we came from and how we grew up has a lot to do with how we work with and influence others on a day-to-day basis. It can have a significant influence on our performance and ability to connect with employees, managers, owners and other relationships related to our work.

In HR, no one situation is anything like the other and that is what makes this profession so exciting to work in. I say be proud of your humble beginnings because all in all it is who you are and who you are is an outstanding professional who can handle whatever situation that is thrown at you.

About the Author

Donna Rogers, SPHR

Donna is Founder and CEO of Rogers HR Consulting. She has a Master’s in human resources development from UIUC, a Bachelor’s in Public Relations from ISU and two associate degrees in Information Management and Pre-Business Administration. She has maintained a senior HR certification since 2001 and earned two additional HR certifications as late as 2019. She regularly delivers numerous presentations among professionals at meetings, seminars, and conferences locally, nationally, and internationally. She is on Twitter as @RogershrConsult



I love this blog! It is true that when you go trough a life experince, you do become more empathtic about others around you. There are many different kinds of people in this world, as it takes all kinds to make it work, and I often think outside the box when it comes to peoples behaviour.
Why they thinkl and talk they way they do? etc.. I almost always think about what they might have gone through growing up before I think anythign eles. It’s like I almost study thier behaviour first!
It is our job and we do spend a lot of time at work, and I think as an HR professional knowing how to connect with people and having insite on what might have made them who they are today is very inportant. I almost feel as if we are like social workers 0f the work world.
Although there is a lot of paper work, we really do deal with every issues of people in the work world !

Project Social » HR for HR

[…] drawn to their stories. For instance, Donna Rogers (@donnarogershr on Twitter) recently wrote a blog post on the Women of HR website that talked about the link between stability at home and work […]



Loved this blog. Stability is an important element in performance.

I love how you made such a personal story become so relevant to the point, and I always look forward to reading your posts!

Donna Rogers

I agree the experience does cross functions in types of organizations and of course management as you mentioned. Thank you so much for your comment.


Excellent perspective Dona, so true .. and allow me to expand this experience not only on the HR field but also across different work domains.
Whether you’re a manager, or someone who’s in control, you will be able to further relate to others’ issues.
In the HR, it permits you to reach out to others, an outstanding outcome. It also takes real courage and good upbringing to become a person who understands others’ concerns and problems.
Thank you for such a great article today

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