Everything I Know About HR, I Learned from Erica Kane

This month, The Buzz on HR is giving a salute and farewell to the daytime series All My Children, which will air its final episode on September 23rd. Posts this month will share practical lessons I’ve learned after watching the show and its demise for years.

This post will deal with the one and only Erica Kane.

Without a doubt, Erica Kane is the most famous character in all of daytime television. Ever. The character first appeared on the 10th episode of the show in 1970. The show will end at just under 11,000 episodes and Erica Kane has been a character portrayed by actress Susan Lucci the whole time. No one else on daytime television has that kind of longevity. Erica Kane is more recognizable than most US Presidents. She is an icon.

In case you’ve lived under a rock for the last 40 years and have no idea of her history, here’s a brief summary …

Erica Kane is the only daughter of Eric Kane and Mona Tyler. Her father abandoned Erica and Mona when she was a child so Erica had serious daddy issues, which fueled both her successes and failures in business and in love. Erica has held about 10 – 15 different jobs and been married 12 times, although several of those were later ruled invalid. And that doesn’t account for men she loved but never married, either. Erica has 3 children — Bianca, Kendall and Joshua. 2 of the 3 children were conceived under less than ideal circumstances so Erica either didn’t know about or develop a relationship with them until they were adults. And Erica Kane is also a grandmother with 2 grandsons and 2 granddaughters.

So aside from how to give birth and not remember, literally get away with murder and defeat dastardly dopplegangers, what can HR from Erica Kane?

1) It is ok to sometimes be the villain and other times be the hero. Erica Kane went from being the character you loved, to the character you loved to hate, and around and around. HR often gets stuck in the same merry-go-round. Sometimes, we are the policy police who have to come down hard on a violator. Other times, we are the defender of vision and virtue against a manager who is being unreasonable toward subordinates. Both roles are normal and appropriate. Embrace it.

2) Know your strengths but stay open to opportunities to grow, change and reinvent yourself to achieve more. Erica Kane went from waitress to hostess to model to cosmetics designer to television host to corporate raider. She fell in love and out of love and back again dozens of times. HR has to know that its strength lies in balancing the needs of the employer against the rights of the employee. However, HR has to be willing to change alongside the industries, business cultures and professional environments we are apart of. This is what will keep HR relevant and a voice of the leadership of our organizations.

3) There is no weakness in walking away. I would be remiss to talk about Erica Kane without making mention of her portrayer, Susan Lucci. She devoted herself to Erica Kane, the fans and the show for the last 40 years. In the end, the network¬†repaid¬†this by cancelling the show in favor of programming that was supposedly more cost-effective. All My Children has since been picked up by Prospect Park and will continue airing online beginning some time in 2012. Susan Lucci has announced she will not make the move with the show and Erica Kane will end when the show ends on ABC in just a few days. HR fights to keep the company current and compliant — and in return, we are met with resistance and grumbling and sometimes we’re just altogether ignored. Sometimes, HR has to let the organization suffer the consequences of not heeding our advice. There are times when tough love is the only love left to give.

Farewell, Erica Kane. See you in syndication!






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