5 Things Nietzsche Can Teach Us About HR - Glassdoor for Employers
Nietzsche Quotes for Small Businesses

5 Things Nietzsche Can Teach Us About HR

Friedrich Nietzsche is a celebrated German philosopher from the 18th century whose philosophies are universal and timeless. Mostly anchored in Western philosophy and modern intellectual history, his ideals have been applied by leading figures from different professional disciplines such as performance arts, psychology and sociology.

In this article, we will shine a light on some of his most famous quotes to see what they can teach us about one of the most important operational areas of a small business – human resources.

1) “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”

Each individual has their own way of doing things. While managers should guide them on how to accomplish tasks, employees should be given the liberty to finish a deliverable suitable to their working style, as long as they do it properly and produce the results expected of them.

This kind of practice should be promoted within the company as it allows employees to take pride in their work knowing that they are given the independence to tackle their work as they see best.

HR’s role is to ensure that this kind of working dynamic among employees and managers is constantly practiced to maintain a healthy and productive environment in the workplace.

2) "He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying."

Promote constructive learning in the office. Put goal-setting and performance management systems in place to make sure that the employees’ career progression is always on track. Apart from serving as a career blueprint for employees, the managers can also use this as a clear reference on expectations previously set to meet by the employees before their next performance appraisal.

Furthermore, it will encourage employees to work harder to advance at work as it gives them a clear idea on what they need to achieve to merit a promotion or a salary increase.

If you need help with designing a system, check out this article that includes the five stages of performance management.

3) “The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”

A workplace should be an environment of diversity where all kinds of people are welcome. A great company should be open to individuals from different cultures, beliefs, ideas, ethnicities and professional disciplines.

Factors that make a company an exciting place to work at are the energy, insights and expertise that come from a team of different backgrounds. Apart from promoting openness to various cultures, these elements also attract a rich pool of knowledge that could help propel the growth of a company.

A great way to build this kind of team is to look for talented employees using multiple job boards.

4) “There are no facts, only interpretations.”

Determining whether an applicant is a good fit for the company is a tricky task and should not depend on a single person’s judgement.

When considering an applicant for a role, the HR manager should involve multiple team members to evaluate a potential employee. Having multiple people interview a particular applicant will help to get different perspectives and feedback. This prevents a “similar-to-me” bias which is an individual’s tendency to prefer an applicant with a similar background to theirs.

Furthermore, applying a structured system when interviewing an applicant, which involves all  team members asking the same questions, will help them easily compare feedback. This helps with candidate decision clarity and reducing bias in the hiring process.

5) “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

An important aspect of a business is its mission statement. This is typically a few sentences that state the purpose of the company. Why are you in business and what specific need are you trying to fill? By focusing on your mission, it is easier to handle the day-to-day inconveniences that come up since you have a purpose that you are striving for.

While most small businesses have their mission statement taken care of, they often forget about how their employees can relate to the mission in order to feel fulfilled in their job as well. This is important because an employee that feels connected to a businesses and is happy in the job will be a better worker for the company.

One way to make your employees feel taken care of is by offering benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, and a 401(k) plan.

Small businesses that don’t have the time or resources to work on this part of the business can enlist the help of a professional employer organization (PEO). PEO’s are companies that help perform HR and administrative functions so businesses can focus on other areas of operations.


Implementing good HR practices is key to running a healthy business. While they may sound simple, Nietzsche’s ideals take patience and dedication to apply in the workplace. What we suggest is a regular check-in and self-evaluation to make sure you are on track with your HR practices. This may take time, but doing so will definitely benefit you in the long run.