This month, The Buzz on HR is giving a salute and farewell to the daytime series All My Children, which aired 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. Part 1 shared lessons from the one and only Erica Kane.

Part 2 gleaned lessons from Pine Valley business tycoon’s Adam Chandler and Palmer Cortlandt.

Part 3 looked at supercouple Angie and Jesse.

The final post in the series looks at the lessons HR can learn from the Final Episode of All My Children and all the controversy surrounding the end of the show.

The finale opened with a beautiful montage of the characters through the generations while Angie Hubbard speaks. We then see Angie pleading to Jesse to release Dr. David Hayward, who was arrested for bringing people back from the dead and then holding them hostage. It turns out Dr Hayward saved the lives of Erica’s step-daughter and son-in-law, Adam’s brother and Palmer Cortlandt’s niece — and is also responsible for helping Angie to regain her sight. Liza Colby arrives to announce Adam has pulled strings to get Dr. Hayward out on bail.

Meanwhile, across town, Adam is planning a party to celebrate the news that his twin brother, Stuart, who was shot and killed by someone intending to kill Adam, is alive. Stuart was the “nice” twin and loved by the whole town! So everyone dresses up in their best duds to celebrate the return of the Chandler family to Pine Valley! But there is one Chandler missing — Adam’s son, JR, who furiously left town when he found out his father was leaving Chandler Enterprises to his cousin (Stuart’s son, Scott) and his wife left him for a woman (Erica’s daughter, Bianca).

However, JR didn’t leave town. He overheard someone talking about the party at his dad’s house and decided to crash — with a gun! Just after Adam finishes giving thanks to everyone for coming, shots ring out, the screen fades to black … and the show is over! So instead of wondering who shot JR, like we did in the 80s, we are left wondering who did JR shoot?!?!

So what can HR learn from the All My Children finale and the slow death of daytime drama?

  • Honor the past but keep looking to the future. What makes daytime drama compelling and keeps audiences committed is how it continually connects the past to the future. We see new characters come and go, but the core families and characters remain. When soaps start messing with their core families and characters, that is when things go awry. The same happens in HR! It is important for HR to be business-minded and remain on the cutting edge of trends and technology, but we can never lose sight of the core — people!! When HR stops focusing on identifying, onboarding, training, developing and managing people, the organizations we serve are screwed. Never lose sight of why and what HR is.
  • Make sure you are measuring and reporting right things right. Network execs blame the demise of soaps on the steady decline of ratings due to more and more women working outside of the home. However, the way ratings are measured for these shows puts them at a distinct disadvantage. Ratings are only captured when the show is viewed on its original day/time or recorded and viewed on the original day. Viewers who watch online or save up episodes to watch later are never counted. And replay ratings from evening replays are not counted toward overall ratings — they are judged against all other prime time television. Something about that seems askew. HR often faces challenges in measuring and reporting the impact of the areas we are responsible for. When that happens, we have to resist the urge to manipulate statistics to say what we need them to or to give up on something important because we cannot show exactly how important it is with numbers. HR should never forget unmeasurable things still matter; in fact, they usually matter the most.

Fans of the show and HR professionals should always remember …

“The Great and the Least, The Rich and the Poor, The Weak and the Strong, In Sickness and in Health, In Joy and Sorrow, In Tragedy and Triumph, You are ALL MY CHILDREN” … Farewell!