This past week I was fortunate to be the emcee for the second DisruptHR in Cincinnati !! We had another great time and the presentations were unique, diverse and thought provoking. The venue of Memorial Hall also added to the ambiance of the night. The true highlight for me was seeing many familiar faces as well as a large number of new people.
It’s fascinating to me to see how people greet each other at HR events. People look for people that they know first if they didn’t already come with someone they know. If they don’t know people, they head to either a corner or the bar to get a view of the room and scope out how they’re going to maneuver around people before figuring a way to get to their seat with the fewest interactions possible.
If someone does introduce themselves they tend to keep a clear distance and reach for a business card as a force field to get the niceties out of the way. There may be some small talk exchanged asking where someone works, why did they come to the event and what do they expect. More often than not, the room is filled with more people you don’t know than it is people you do know.
I’m not trying to make fun, it’s just what I see. I’m an extreme extrovert, and I know that isn’t common. I thrive in a room full of people. I can’t wait to meet as many people as I can. I don’t want to just meet them, I want to get to know them. In order to not have this be overwhelming, I’ve developed the following approach.
1st time handshake. 2nd time hug !!
Okay, the hugging part may be overwhelming, but it’s necessary. I mean it !! People need to be hugged especially if they work in HR. You’ve heard me say that working with people is challenging. That is nothing new, but a genuine support system for HR is !! HR people tend to want to move on their own and have bought into the myth that they shouldn’t be close to anyone.
Being isolated in our field is senseless and harmful. It’s harmful because if you think you can foster engagement in employees, but you aren’t connected to other people on purpose youself, then you’re just trying to make something come to life you don’t believe in. We need to care for each other and be up front about it.
I remember a few years ago, Joe Gerstandt came to speak at Ohio SHRM and I was the program chair. We had never met in person at that time, only through social media. When I saw him far across the room, I squealed and ran over to him and gave him a giant bear hug. (I skipped my 1st time rule.) Joe pulled back a bit from me and said, “I guess brothers hug.” Love that !!
Ironically, other HR people there chastized me for being loud and too excited. You see, we want order and decorum in a world that is calling for empathy and compassion. I choose hugs and will not shy away from it. I’ve had too many people melt in an embrace because it hit them just at the right time.
This week, Ohio SHRM is happening once again and I will be giving out hugs as much as possible !! To say I’m Geeked would be an understatement. I will love seeing friends and meeting new ones.
If I see you there (or at other great HR and SHRM events), choose. I’m good with a hug right off the bat. You need to know someone cares about you and that you are in HR. I’ll be looking for you !!