Looking out from an empty stage !!

Well, we did it !!  The 39th Annual Ohio HR Conference – HR Rocks !! – has been performed.  It was exhilarating and exhausting.  There was an incredible flow of positive energy around every corner and many friends from the world of Social Media were pivotal to its success.

The attendees were engaged, upbeat and experienced a State Conference that tried to loosen the edges of conference traditions.  For instance, the OHRC Committee had a lounge which was decorated with a beaded curtain that lead into a vast room of lava lamps, comfortable furniture and, of course, rock music !!  The halls were filled with classic rock flowing all around people as they moved from session to session.  The Mosh Pit (exhibit hall) was always full and the resource partners in their decorated booths caught the vibe of engaging the group instead of being seen as just selling their wares.

The Kalahari staff were incredible and responded at each and every question and need.  This was during a week where the CEO of Kalahari was coming in for the wedding of one of his daughters.  We met him and he felt that the Ohio HR Conference and his amazing resort fit well together !!

So, I’d like to wrap the incredible week with some thank you’s.

First of all – thank you to the attendees !!  You chose to come out and get away from your desks to try something new and I hope it paid off in providing new ways for you to ROCK HR at your workplace !!

Secondly – to my Committee !!  If I hear one more piece about HR practitioners who don’t care or represent our profession, I will personally introduce you to each member of my Committee who will show you true business leadership with a sense of joy, drive and intent !!  They put on an incredible concert !!!

Third – to HR friends from Social Media who traveled from far and wide to attend (spy) and bring incredible energy, insight and support.  It was so cool to hang out with Tammy Colson and Frank Zupan at our incredible Wine Tasting and to mill around with John Jorgensen, Dave Ryan, Brad Galin, Joan Ginsberg and Bryan Wempen throughout the week was amazing because I could always find them and hear words of encouragement.

Fourth – to Social Media leaders who brought their talent and presented.  Thanks to Mark Stelzner, Benjamin McCall, Paul Hebert, Jennifer McClure, Bill Boorman, Mike VanDervort, Simon T. Bailey, China Gorman, William Tincup, Elizabeth Borton and Stephanie Thomas.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I thought ALL of our speakers rocked it !!  What this group did was put a real face on Social Media and HR.  They came engaged, stayed through the conference and made it amazing.

Fifth – For William and Bryan to promote Drive Thru HR to practitioners and for them to feature one of my committee, Clay Morris, during the week.  They continue to bring the HR profession to life !!

Finally – You have to end with a story . . .

A few years ago we agreed as a Committee to stop giving out plaques or crystal desk weights for service when you end your term as Chair.  We decided to be more personal and ask what people would like (novel idea) or get something that fit them, their personality, etc.  Well, my Committee outdid themselves this year.  Here is what I received . . . a signed copy of U2’s The Joshua Tree album (my fave group !!) and a signed copy of an HR Rocks album that our Marketing guru, Mike Medoro, created with signatures from each committee member and each speaker.  When I received them, I broke down and cried.

I am humbled to have been the Chair of this event.  I am floored it even happened.  And even more than that, I am proud to see that our profession now knows that HR ROCKS !!!!!

And now to help Fred plan 2012 – it’s going to be amazing !!!!

 

 

Time to Stage Dive !!

This coming week I’m attending the 39th Annual Ohio HR Conference, HR Rocks !!, as its Chair. It has been an incredible year in planning this event.  You see, this event only comes together because of my amazing Committee !! (See last week’s post . . .)

And, this week, I get to enjoy the main reason I attend ANY conference . . . the people !!

As I type we are over 700 attendees and there will be another 180+ staffing the booths of our incredible Resource Partners as well as 20+ speakers/presenters.  That means I’ll get to see, meet and hang out with almost 1,000 great folks who are all about HR !!  That may not get others outside our profession geeked, but I can’t tell you how amped I am to encounter each and every person !!

Last week we launched a new facet to our Conference by conducting a pre-Conference conference call and attendees could call in to get the lowdown on the activities and events happening throughout the week.  When I asked for feedback, it was overwhelming to hear that people valued the personal touch that we were offering even before they hit the doors.

We’re trying to set a new trend in SHRM conferences by expecting everyone involved to be engaged and ready to have the best conference experience they’ve ever had !!  As I’ve mentioned before, people can only change their behavior if it’s modeled for them by others.  HR professionals need to take note that this is something that we hope is a takeaway for them from our Conference and it then permeates their workplaces.

I get in the van tomorrow packed with materials, goodies and surprises to head across the State to land at beautiful Sandusky, Ohio and the Kalahari Resort.  Just mere hours before I get to meet great new folks !!  I may not even sleep tonight because of the excitement !!

Behind the stage . . .

Next week an event over one year in the making takes the “stage” when the 2011 Ohio HR Conference, HR Rocks, comes to life !!  It looks like the hard work will pay off because the event offers phenomenal HR Rockstar speakers as well as 17.25 HRCI hours.  This post isn’t about the event so much as it is a sincere “Thank You” to the crew – my fabulous OHRC Committee.

Too often in today’s lighting fast society, we pay attention to those that are the most visible.  We make our judgements as to whether we like them, or not.  And, we judge what they do to see if it has value or credence based on every move.  This is a shame because behind the most visible people are a group of people who truly are the stars and make things come together.

The Ohio HR Conference (#OHSHRM on Twitter) is planned, designed and executed by HR volunteers – 100% !!  This can’t ever be the work of one person, nor should it be.  When I see so many questioning SHRM and it’s Board, it’s position on things and transparency, I think too many HR professionals forget the amazing work of State Councils, Chapters and State Conferences !!

Remember, if you want to find something negative in anything, you can.  It’s easy.  But, to find and thrive in something positive takes more effort which, in the long run, is much more worth it !!

So, I want you to meet, and get to know my crew this year.  Each of them is a successful and forward thinking HR practitioner who want to see HR excel and be relevant.  That is why they work so hard (along with their full-time jobs, families, other civic activities, etc.) to put together such an amazing event !!

They are listed and linked with their Linked In or Twitter profile so you can connect with each of them (which I highly recommend): Fred Eck, SPHR and Heather Speer-Edwards, SPHR(Programs); Katrina Plourde, SPHR and Kara Kilby (Registrations); Ashley Patterson, PHR and Sheri Caldwell, PhD, SPHR, CIR (Resource Partners) ; Clay Morris, SPHR, Sandy Manjura, PHR and Julie Stephens, SPHR (Arrangements); Mike Medoro (Marketing), Karen Luther, SPHR (Treasurer), Chris Henning, SPHR, (Secretary), Martine Scheuermann, SPHR (Past Chair) and Andrea Gurcsik, SPHR (Ohio SHRM State Council Director).

I’ve been on the State Conference Committee for eight years with a vast majority of these folks and I consider them dear friends.  I have been with them through life events, job changes, tears and tons of laughter !!  They are the reason that #OHSHRM will be great next week !!

So, when you come as an attendee to the Ohio HR Conference, I want you to stop each of these folks to say “Thank You” along with me.  They are extraordinary and unparalleled in the HR profession !! I am thankful to be their friend and humbled to be their Chair.

See you in a week when you will see how HR Rocks !!

 

Image courtesy of Stage Crew 

Come Together !!

I don’t know about you, but I’m geeked about the upcoming State SHRM Conference season !!  Now, some of you reading this think that this will launch into either a “pro” or “anti” SHRM post.  Sorry to disappoint you.  This is just to get you excited about doing something that ALL HR professionals should do . . . get involved and get professional development !!

I saw some tweets this last week that were highlighting the upcoming #ILSHRM and #INSHRM conferences and someone was comparing these two great events.  They both look great !!  I’m also excited to see HR Florida and Wisconsin SHRM !!  You know that I’m extremely geeked about our own #OHSHRM too !!

It doesn’t make sense to compare and contrast these events.  What matters more is that HR comes together as a profession.  We spend so much time picking things apart that we miss the outstanding things that events like these provide.

I am anticipating the tweets and posts that will emanate from all of these conferences.  I’m not able to attend all of them, but I can “participate” through the great speakers, social media forums and blogs.  We need to continue to seek ways to bring our profession together because we will have more strength and relevance in the business community if we do this.  There are still WAY too many HR professionals who continue to fight the good fight on their own.

Let’s change this !!

All next week, reach out to someone in HR you know who isn’t connected.  That could be connected to peers, connected through HR chapters, or connected on Social Media.  Then, connect them !!  We can’t break the “echo chamber” that people contine to write about without action and being intentional.

The reality of seeing hundreds of HR pros at State Conferences excites me !!  I think it should excite you too !!

Maybe I’m Amazed !!

This must just be my “bucket list Summer.”  On Thursday, I got to see a second dream rock concert !!  In July, I saw U2 with three of my closest and dearest friends at Soldier Field in Chicago.  This week I saw Sir Paul McCartney in Cincinnati !!!  To say I was geeked would be an understatement !!

To see one of my rock heroes live was amazing.  He was more than I even thought he’d be live.  And, I think that was true of the 40,000+ people that went to see him.  We all had images in our heads, or ideas of how we’d hope he’d perform.  Everyone was probably also hoping for him to play “their” favorite song during the night.  I know I felt that way and he did play my favorite song of his incredible career . . . ALL of them !!!

What was surprising to me was that there were tons of people who thought he may have lost a step, couldn’t sing as good as he used to.  After all, he’s very close to 70 years old !!

Then it struck me.  This is how most people view people at work.  Most of us look to compartmentalize, or label, people based on our perceptions of what, or who, we think they are.  This is not good.  We continue to feed on the notion that people are bound to disappoint or detract from us.

In fact, I came across a person this week in a conversation at an outside meeting, and our discussion focused around how he felt that EVERYONE would take advantage of things, or them at work.  When I said I disagree and I thought that was a pretty cynical way to view people, they said, “Steve, you’re just naive !!”  I disagreed with them and we left the conversation at an impasse.

By the way, the conversation was with another peer in HR !!

I love that I’m naive !!  I love that I went to see a childhood hero of mine expecting to be blown away by him and I was !!  He played for three hours and had more energy than 99% of the people who came to see him.  He told genuine and gripping stories of John Lennon, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton (all his mates) and also about his kids, why he wrote the songs he did and more.

I happened to go to the concert with my amazing wife (crushed when Paul played Maybe I’m Amazed sitting next to her !!)  I also was there with another best friend (who’s my HR mentor) and his wife.  We were all geeked going in and even more so coming out !!

So, this next week at work, quit thinking the worst about those around you.  Instead, be amazed !!  Because, the truth is, the great humans around us are amazing !!

Come on Get Happy !!

When you saw the title of this post it either made you smile or cringe.  Do you need to be “happy” at work? Heck, can you even be “happy” in HR ??

The cynics out there, many of whom are my dear friends, would be saying things like, “It’s not the 70’s again !!  This isn’t The Partridge Family !!”  Some people at work, and life in general, feel that making someone happy is imposing on their personal space or beliefs.  Others, refusing to be happy, come to work everyday in a dark mood while ominous dirge-like music plays in the background.  There are countless statistics that now show that most people want to leave their job for something else.  For some – ANYTHING else !!!

So, why am I going on and on about being happy?  It’s because I’m knee deep into a great new read called The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.  It’s a fascinating book that hit at the right time.  The premise is counter to most of the history of the field of psychology and that is this . . . If you are happy, you’ll be successful.

Achor points out poignantly that all of us have been looking at this the other way around – When I get successful, I’ll be happy.  However, the research shows that people never feel they’re successful enough – ever.

So, what does this have to do with HR?  EVERYTHING !!!

Many HR people I know are miserable in what they do.  They are burdened by the reality that working with and dealing with people is rough.  There is no doubt about that.  But, you don’t have to be miserable.

One of my friends visited one of our franchise locations a few years ago when I just had joined LaRosa’s, Inc.  He asked the owner if he knew me and he said, “That’s the new HR guy isn’t it?  Man, what’s wrong with him?  He’s happy all the time !!”  Great isn’t it?  The owner and I know each other more now and he’s a great guy.  He still wonders how I can be happy and be in HR.

So, this week ask yourself . . . happy ??  I think Achor is dead on by his premise that a person needs to be genuinely positive before they’ll ever be successful.  What do you think ??

 

What are you holding on to ??

HR is fraught with so many things that it clings to which aren’t really necessary.  We publish policy after policy to no avail.  It’s amazing how much is put together in manuals and handbooks with the hope that behavior will somehow be affected, changed or altered.

Recently, I was told about a company that has an eight page dress code policy !!  Eight pages !!  When I asked about it and actually read it, they missed things that people could wear that would really set people on end.  So, instead of addressing the one or two actual people who were not wearing “appropriate” clothing, HR comes out with this eight page literary work – that no one follows !!

While I was surrounded this past week by 70,000 singing fans at the U2 concert in Chicago, the band played a favorite of mine from No Line on the Horizon called Moment of Surrender during their second encore.  As I was singing along with Bono (and everyone else), I was struck by the lyrics that say “At the moment of surrender – Of vision over visibility – I did not notice the passers-by – And they did not notice me.”

We sometimes lose our vision in HR.  There is so much that we need to let go of and let it float away !!  If you truly look at much of what we do, our policies, procedures and systems don’t tell employees how to DO work.  They focus on what NOT to do !!  And, in having this approach, we’re amazed that things don’t change at work.

It’s time for us to stop doing this.  We need to have ways for people to perform, excel and shine in our organizations.  We need to stop trying to police behavior and, instead, build a framework and an environment where people can be engaged and utilize their strengths.

So, as you go to work this Monday, take a look at the volumes of things you write which you think are being followed. Be daring.  Take a policy no one follows and rip it out of your handbook.  See if anyone notices.

It’s time for us to learn to let go.  What’s your next move ??

Peace of Mind !!

When we in the wacky world of HR talk about the importance of “engagement,” are we talking about others or ourselves?

Seriously.  I’ve been really contemplating this lately and I continue to feel perplexed when I see Conference sessions, blog posts, and white papers on the importance of engagement, but it always seems to be about someone else.

If HR isn’t engaged, why should we expect others to be engaged?  Have you asked yourself if you really love being in HR?  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a “why people hate HR” post.  This is a challenge to see if you’re truly in the field you enjoy.  I find that the people who manage their careers the worst are people in HR.  We will go out of our way to help others in their career endeavors, but we shy away from taking this and being intentional.

Remember – If you don’t manage your career . . . it will manage you !!

I’ve learned this through personal experience and also from watching others who continue to state that they struggle with being effective in our field.  Trust me, there’s no other field I’d rather be in !!

I keep seeing posts encouraging people to attend #SHRM11 and I hope that people do because events like this can be spectacular . . . with a catch.  If you aren’t going to forums like this to network, seek great professional development and also learn to be a better HR professional, then you’re just missing out.  Take these opportunities to move yourself ahead so that, in turn, you can return to your company to move them ahead as well !!

I think we all need to be comfortable “in our own skin” when it comes to being in HR and to quit apologizing for it.  I think it was captured best by one of my favorite bands, Boston, in their classic Peace of Mind:

“Now if you’re feelin’ kinda low ’bout the dues you’ve been paying

Future’s coming much too slow

And you wanna run but somehow you just keep on stayin’

Can’t decide on which way to go

Yeah, yeah, yeah

I understand about indecision

But I don’t care if I get behind

People livin’ in competition

All I want is to have my peace of mind.”

So, take some time to reflect.  Get rid of any indecision.  It would be great to look around in our field and see people who really had that peace of mind to make HR rock !!  Come on and join in !!

 

Pump it up !!

I don’t know if you celebrated it or not, but I declared yesterday “Favorite Human Day !!”  What is this day, you may ask?  It’s a day dedicated to telling your favorite humans how wonderful and amazing they are !!  That’s it.  Pretty simple.

Now, when some of you read this, you’ll think “Why would I tell someone that they’re amazing with no other reason and/or agenda?” Or something like, “Well, if I do that, won’t they expect something from me?”

You see I think there’s a serious thing missing not only in our lives at work, but in our lives in general.  And that is . . . encouragement !!

Really, it’s true.  Try this . . . when you get/receive feedback – is it negative or positive most of the time?  I’ll pause for the answer.  It’s negative isn’t it?  In fact, the majority of our systems in HR are built on negatives including our policies, performance reviews and general employee relations when we have to “deal” with people and their issues.  Ask yourself this – do you spend your time telling people what NOT to do, or what TO do?  I think I know the answer.

How do we expect our cultures to change when we don’t encourage one another?  Why do we think that if we’re positive with people that they’ll just eventually turn on us?

Not me.  I encourage others.  I do it all the time without being asked and expecting nothing in return.

I follow the prophetic words of one of my rock n’ roll icons – Elvis Costello in his classic tune “Pump it Up” from This Year’s Model:

“Pump it up when you don’t really need it.  Pump it up until you can feel it.”

You don’t need a reason to encourage people.  In fact, if you just do it randomly and genuinely, you’ll probably be met with cynicism because people just aren’t used to it.  Don’t be discouraged.  Keep doing it.

This week I spoke at a local one-day SHRM Conference and the attendees and I were laughing (in fact howling at times) and having a great time – at a conference !!!  It was such a great relief to see HR people having fun and enjoying themselves talking about what we do for a living !!

Oh, and just so you know, my first “faves” were my wife and two amazing kids.  Then I called a few other faves and just left a voice mail to encourage them and tell them that I think life is better because they’re around and a part of my life.  Got another person today and we laughed and laughed and he even said, “Man, I needed a call like this today.”

I’m not going to list who I called or name drop.  These people mean the world to me, so I tell them directly.  Remember that all of us are humans.  Humans need encouragement.

Got a fave ??  Take time this week and let them know.  They’ll love it !!

You’ve Got a Friend . . .

The incomparable James Taylor had many hits while I was growing up, but one that has always stuck with me is You’ve Got a Friend.”   This ballad hit home this week because I lost a dear friend, Penina Sachs, to cancer.  Penina quietly battled for five years before passing.

Penina was someone who “got it” when it came to being a friend.  She and I served together when I was the President of the Greater Cincinnati HR Assocation (GCHRA).  There were so many things that defined Penina that drew me to her as a friend.  She was candid, forthright, determined and she wanted to move the profession of HR forward.  Through her tireless volunteer efforts she did just that.  She was someone who embraced social media and was active in the forums.  She was also someone who saw the future by being an attendee at the first HRevolution.

Penina was never one for pretense and some found that difficult.  So many people spend hours and hours trying to “be somebody” vs. just being comfortable in their own skin.  That was never the case for Penina.

Her passing leads me to throw this out there for the HR social community to think about.

The reason I valued Penina was that we were truly friends.  Not on-line followers, lurkers, Linked In connections, or Facebook “friends.”  We were connected on-line, but more importantly in real life.  I know that it’s not possible to be connected with everyone we know in person, but I want to challenge those connected to me.  When I see someone who has 50,000+ followers on Twitter, I’m skeptical.  Sure, you have the numbers, but do they just want to be seen with you and not know you?  Where’s the value in that?

When people boast of numbers, numbers, numbers – I just wonder if you even know people’s names?  The influencer lists are based on SEO’s and metrics, but is that truly influence?

I don’t want to influence, I want to leave a legacy.  I want to be an imprint on others and I want them to imprint me.  Penina did that.  I will value her legacy of support and adventure in our ever evolving field.

So, if you are kind enough to read this blog or are connected with me in other forums know that I’m serious about this.  I want to know you enough that you leave an imprint on my life.  It’s just like James Taylor sang . . .

“You just call out my name and you know wherever I am – I’ll come running to see you again . . . You’ve got a friend.”

I’ll miss you Penina !!

Image courtesy of Word Collector