What’s Your Approach ??

At times Human Resources feels like it moves at an amazingly fast pace !!  There may be some peaks and valleys, but each day is more likely a blur.  I know many folks who have to double-check their Outlook calendars just to remind them what day it is.

With things moving so quickly all the time, there is the possibility that the field we should love becomes the job that is more drudgery than joy.  If you don’t think this is true, go to an HR Conference and listen to the conversations in the crowds.  Most of them are not positive and are laced with unending frustration.

There’s a way out of this constant drain of negativity.  It does, however, take a huge intentional effort which many aren’t willing to do.  It’s not “hard” but it is different from the norm.

It’s all about your approach . . .

ApproachYour approach to your life.  Your approach to HR.  Your approach towards your employees.  And, your approach towards others around you.

Let me share an example that just happened.  We are entering the SHRM Conference season.  There are phenomenal regional and State events that you should check out and attend.  I just attended and spoke at the 48th Annual Northern Ohio HR Conference (NOHRC) in Cleveland.  It’s a great event full of great programs, business partners and, most importantly, HR pros.

Often when folks go to Conferences, they are much more focused and concerned with which sessions have Strategic Credit, where are the best seats, who should they go see and what is going to happen . . . every . . . single . . . minute.  They willingly walk past every other attendee to get to their session without even greeting each other.  The session is FAR MORE important than the other attendees.

Having experienced this more often than I like, I opened my session by asking all of the people who came to take 30 seconds and meet the people around them. The energy level in the room jumped !!  People started smiling and they shook off the full day of sessions and activities.  Their minds were clear, they were ready for something different and we launched.

I shared with everybody my observation that we struggle with HR because of how we approach it.  Just like the conference setting, we are so much more concerned and focused on systems, policies and procedures than we are the people who work with us.  People who come to work and want to do great work, be recognized for it by person-to-person feedback and also want to see their company succeed !!

The other example I shared at my session was that when I attend an HR conference, I spend my time almost primarily seeking out friends, meeting new people and getting connected to them.  I also attend sessions, but usually to meet others.  When people go to conferences with me they better get used to delays because I will get, and give, countless hugs, handshakes and hellos.

You see, PEOPLE are my approach !!

This isn’t an admonishment, it’s an opportunity.  People make us who we are as a profession and it’s the most fulfilling approach I know.  So, this week, drop one system.  Ignore one policy.  Skip one procedure.

But . . . approach EVERY person with a new view !!  I guarantee you’ll love it !!

Image courtesy of Dragyn Studios

Take it All In !!

I’m glad to say that I’ve survived another phenomenal Ohio State SHRM HR Conference !!  It was spectacular from stuffing the conference bags and setting up the vendor booths all the way to the final session.  It truly is an exhausting week for many of us (by choice).

It’s fascinating to watch the interactions that happen at an HR conference.  I think this is mainly because HR folks love to be around others from their profession.  There’s camaraderie, laughter and a truly evident bonding that is needed at least once a year.  You have to know it’s fantastic to be around people who are working in very similar circumstances ranging from compliance to employee relations.

Another very interesting facet that I keep coming across is how involved people choose to be throughout the conference.  I get the fact that ALL of us are taking time away from our families, our workplaces and the projects that will be jumping to life come Monday morning once again.  Since this time is more focused around HR intentionally, it would make sense to me that you would fill every moment with everything you possibly could at the Conference.  Ironically, this doesn’t happen.  This isn’t to be critical – it’s an observation.

I think what is telling about this though is the issue of capacity.  People take in as much as they can handle in all areas of work, life and activities.  The question you have to ask yourself is – what is my capacity?  What if I could take in one more thing that may give me THE answer I need to do my role better?  What if I met one more person who could be THE one who connects me to resources, a career opportunity or other great HR pros who could make HR come alive?

SHRM CardAt the Conference we asked everyone to sign a birthday card for SHRM because it’s their 65th birthday this year. It was a simple thing to ask for a very small commitment. When people saw that their contribution was within reach, easy to accomplish and they had someone there to encourage them to do it – there was instant participation.  Once there was one signature, the next one seemed natural.  By the time one side of the card was filled, the next side began to take shape.  People wrote in all directions, sizes and locations.  No one argued and everyone joined in.  We even bled over to the back of the card because more and more people wanted to be included.

It was a card.  A piece of cardboard that still had room to take on more people. It hadn’t reached it’s capacity – and most of us haven’t either.

So, the next time you’re at an event – take in everything.  I mean it.  EVERYTHING !!  Don’t miss out on one moment. It is so fulfilling and you’ll take all that you’ve experienced and learned back to work and be an even greater HR person !!

Connecting !!

This week is truly a week I eagerly anticipate every year !!  That is because I know when September rolls around, so does the annual Ohio State HR Conference !!  I get excited because it’s a chance to break away from the day-to-day and be with my peers.  I know this sounds HR Nerdish but I’m unapologetic about it.

The Conference has an intimate feel to it even though we’re approaching 900 attendees and 90+ vendors.  The theme this year is “HR – Making Connections that Count” and I really dig the feel of this.  The question is, will people step out and make connections?

One of the real challenges of HR is that we try to gut it out or go it alone.  I don’t know when this trend where  isolation is seen as a strength ever started, but it needs to end !!  Ironically, there will be attendees who come to this great event (and others like it) and will do little to no connecting whatsoever.  No connections with resource partners, no connections with peers and no connections with people who could make HR truly come alive for them !!  Why is that?

I don’t think it’s a matter of introversion or extraversion.  I think it’s a case of risk aversion !!  I’m amazed how the folks who are in the field of HUMANS are so hesitant to meet others.  Is it because we’re different and won’t have anything in common?  Is it because someone will meet you and immediately ask you some insanely hard HR question, and if you don’t know the right answer, they’ll kick you out of HR ??

Then what is it?  What continually keeps folks apart and not connecting?

I have a theory . . .

ButtonsYou see, I collect buttons.  I have loads of them and they don’t follow any particular pattern or grouping.  They range from Monty Python, to types of beer, to rock bands to hippie related ones, to classic cartoons, to HR ones, etc.  Here’s a quick pic of just a few of my collection.  I’m trying to organize them to show them off and enjoy them !!

So, what’s my theory?  Just like the buttons we are a mix of a million different interests, emotions, ideas, insights, viewpoints and approaches.  However, we either think others won’t find us interesting enough, or we think we won’t find people who share our interests.  And that my friends is sad !!

I LOVE that we’re different !!  How dreadfully boring would it be if we were all the same ??  Seriously.

So, I have a challenge for you this week.  I plan to connect with every (EVERY) single attendee and vendor at the Conference.  Not just meet them – connect with them.  I want to learn about who they are and see how we can be resources to each other.

Your challenge is to meet one (1) new person this week and connect with them.  I think that keeps things pretty balanced.  If you’re one of the 900 attending #OHSHRM13, I’m geeked to see you, meet you and connect with you.  Maybe . . . you’ll even be wearing a button !!

5 New Ideas !!

SHRM13 has wrapped up and it was honestly the best National SHRM Conference I’ve attended.  The vibe was cool and people seemed to be at ease and engaged at the same time.  Just prior to the Conference kicking off, my good friend, Mark Stelzner, put a challenge out on Facebook to see if anyone could come away from the event with 5 new ideas.

I loved the challenge and responded immediately.  Now, let’s get the “there are no new ideas” cynicism out of the way.  This may be inherently true, but you have to remember that the HR universe is a gigantic bell curve !!  The conference had folks from those new to the field to CHRO’s.  The idea of “new” is really dependent upon the individual and not whether you think it’s new or not.

Too often we read blogs and think everyone’s heard that before !!  I think you need to rethink that because as much as we’d like to think we carry a broad swath of our profession, we are reaching a truly engaged minority.  That is very cool, but we aren’t going as deep as we can.  This was reflected in the myriad of people who flocked to the transactional HR sessions because I’m sure it was important to their role.  I went to others that reflected mine.  That’s not being critical – that’s being practical.

Lightbulb PlantsNow to the five new ideas !! (at least to me)

#1 – HR needs to be integrated throughout business not just “know” the business.

There were a billion sessions who broke Matt Stollak’s rule of saying “seat at the table,” but they weren’t encouraging it, they were noting that this wasn’t enough (and in actually never has been).  The C-Suite expects HR to be woven throughout the organization – not just show up at Executive meetings.

 #2 – Giving shouldn’t just be done by writing a check.

Listening to Blake Mycoskie was so refreshing !!  To see someone from Gen Y who is truly reflective of a success story of his generation was cool.  During his presentation he showed how a company can be profitable and giving simultaneously.  Also, the expectation that his employees are all in on the efforts of Toms gives folks a great model of living a culture vs. trying to program it.

#3 – No one is as dumb as all of us.

Other than being incredibly inspirational, listening to Mark Kelly speak was very grounding.  He noted that this saying was on the wall at NASA after the Challenger tragedy.  It warns us that group-think is more dangerous than an individual idea.  Too often HR jumps into a group decision in order to tag along in organizations.  Be wary of this and truly review all ideas that come down the pike.

#4 – We’re all in sales.

Daniel Pink was phenomenal !!  His ideas that “we’re all in sales” isn’t particularly new. But he noted that few truly practice this approach.  For HR to be integrated (see #1), you need to sell what you’re company does.  In fact, Jennifer McClure noted in her session that she wanted to see Businesspeople who practice HR vs. HR people who happen to know the business.

#5 – Surround yourself with leaders.

Jen McClure provided a completely different ending to her phenomenal session when she encouraged people to surround themselves and get connected to people who are leaders in HR.  This wasn’t just the same old – follow people who are well known.  It was a stronger approach to get truly connected to HR practitioners who show they are leading in the field.  The folks she listed are givers.  They make sure to give first to all those that connect with them.

#6 – HR people want to connect with others, but they don’t know how.

(Bonus Idea) 15,000+ folks wandered through the halls of McCormick Place for SHRM13, and I tried my best to encounter and meet as many as I could.  There was a sense that people wanted to meet others, but they didn’t seem willing to step out and make that happen.  At each session I attended, I introduced myself to all those around me and asked their state, city, role, etc. and then listened to their story.  I also did this on the elevator, escalator, hallways, HRCI Hideaway, Blogger’s Lounge and SHRM Volunteers Leaders lounge.  This isn’t to brag.  It’s to give you an idea of the vastness of the number of HR folks who aren’t being reached.  True, they’re attending and getting their credits, but their sphere of connectivity was limited in general.  There are many, like me, who were trying to meet folks and change this paradigm, but it’s still an uphill opportunity that is exhilarating !!

Whew !!  This post is almost as long as the Conference.  I didn’t even talk about the great SHRM Kickball game, the incredible vendor hall and the unforgettable SHRM Tweetup !!  Another day.

In the end, the whole thing rocked !!  I came home even more geeked than when I went.  Seeing old friends, making new ones and being a part of the future of HR is energizing. Stay tuned !!!

 

An Opportunity you Can Kick In !!

One week from now I get the chance to attend the SHRM National Conference in Chicago !!  It’s an incredible event for professional development, networking and connecting with HR pros from around the globe !!

It’s also an opportunity to make a difference.  I dig being active and visible in Social Media.  I have to be very honest and clear about that because too often HR people who aren’t active think that what we do is out of reach or not feasible for them.  What difference does it make to just be out “in the space” ??

What people lose sight of is that the folks who are active in Social Media aren’t just talking (or typing) heads.  They’re very real and folks who push the boundaries and take action.  That’s why I love to be included with this crew !!

No Kid Hungry LogoThis year a group of us are getting together at SHRM13 to play kickball !!  (That’s great Steve – what does that have to do with anything ??)  Good question.  You see, we’re playing for charity to raise money and awareness for No Kid Hungry.  They’re a phenomenal organization who’s making a real difference in ending hunger for children in America.

You have an opportunity to help us out in our efforts even though you might not be playing.  We’re taking donations until we play next Sunday night.  You can do by clicking on this link that goes to our  fundraising page – SHRM 13 Kickball.

The thought of a bunch of adults reaching back to our childhood to have a friendly game from all of our memories gets me geeked !!  We should never lose that time when we freely played, used our imaginations and thought there were no boundaries that we would ever face.

It’s humbling that I get to be involved in such a cool service and outreach effort.  I hope you can take this opportunity to connect, give and take action as well.  Your donation will help children eat – something we often take for granted.

For those of you on Twitter – for every Tweet on Tuesday using the hashtag #SHRMKickball there are two sponsors who will donate $1.00 per tweet up to $1,000 !!  That is sweet !!

People ask me if HR can ever make a difference – Here’s a chance to show you can !!

Make sure you check out No Kid Hungry going forward as well.  This may be something that your employees families are facing, and you don’t even know it.  To get you in the “mood” I leave you with a song that talks about “opportunities” with that HR tie.  Enjoy and thanks for considering this !!

Why Can’t We Be Friends ??

In a few weeks I’m going to SHRM13 !!  The National HR Conference is always a great event.  It’s so cool to be surrounded by thousands of HR pros from literally all over the world.

It will be great to see friends, but I’m also looking forward to meeting new folks.  This is sometimes a challenge because many attendees are in a mad rush to get to sessions for their credits, or they stick with people from their own geographic region.  I get this because I was like that when I first started going to SHRM Conferences.  I thought the event was more important than the people who were right there with me.

That’s changed over the years and now my goal is to try and connect with as many HR peers as I can.  I think we have the opportunity to take these types of forums and reach across boundaries to be a better profession !!  Recently, Hank Jackson, SHRM CEO, shared that he wants SHRM to be seen as a Professional Society vs. a Membership Organization.  When I heard this, I was geeked !!  I’d love to see this transformation truly occur because the majority of messaging from SHRM over the past few years has been focused on membership.

Meeting OthersIt’s time for us, as HR professionals though to pave the way for this to occur.  The best way for SHRM to move forward is for us to show the way and reach out to each other.  It’s never going to shift much unless we move first.

I know this takes some risk, but it’s worth it.  I know that by stepping out, I’ve met great people from literally around the world !!  It meant taking the first step in most instances, but it’s always resulted in great relationships and even better resources.  You have to remember that you share a common bond because of HR !!  You’ll always have something to talk about.

So, if you’re going to be at SHRM13, let’s make sure to connect.  It will rock and we’ll start setting the standard for others to follow !!

 

Together as one !!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the SHRM Leadership Conference. It is a true favorite for me because it is made up of fellow HR volunteers from all over the United States !!  I also had the chance to meet some great people from SHRM India !!

What continues to amaze me at these intentional gatherings is that people still tend to run in the groups of people that they know.  People stick within their State more than cross boundaries to meet others even though we are all in the same profession and we also have the commonality of volunteering !!

Fortunately, I have always believed in expanding boundaries.  I love connecting with new people wherever I go and SHRMLead was a great opportunity to “reach across the aisle” and make this happen.

When I did this, along with my compatriot John Friend from North Dakota, incredible things began to happen !!  People began to recognize the great things that bring us together.  We have a passion for HR, people and seeing the profession strengthen and grow now and into the future.  We also want to see it be relevant and necessary in all businesses and industries.

However, this won’t happen unless we start to realize that we are all in this together !!

If we want HR to be better – we need to be together !!

If we want SHRM to be better – we need to be together !!

If we truly want to be global – we need to be together !!

The only thing that keeps us from doing it is that we need more folks to reach out and be willing to connect with each other.  We grow stronger as a whole when we incorporate the phenomenal ideas, approaches, strengths and diversity of our geography and our opportunities we face !!

By the end of the week I had been meeting and hanging out with people from Ohio (gimme since it’s where I’m from), North Dakota, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, California, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Montana, New Jersey, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Washington, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arizona, Arkansas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, and India !!

These weren’t just chance meetings or passing each other in the halls.  We spent time together advocating on Capitol Hill, sharing ideas in breakout sessions, sharing meals and the occasional adult beverage, and laughing about the incredible field of HR !!

I’ve written that one of my favorite groups of all time is U2 and their song “One” captures it all – “We’re one, but we’re not the same.  We get to carry each other – Carry each other”

This week reach out.  Make that intentional connection with other HR people. Join me in starting to bring us together.  It’s going to happen !!  And I’d love it if you were part of us . . . together !!

 

Do Something About It !!

This coming week I get to attend the SHRM Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.  The gathering is for Regional, State and Local Chapter leaders.  We get together to share what’s great and also give input on how we’d like to see things improve.

Before going further, let me be clear on my stance on SHRM . . .

I’m a fan !!

I know that things can be improved.  However, I would state that we could make that argument not only about our various organizations, but about our profession as a whole as well.

I didn’t used to have this perspective and I was once far from being a “fan.”  Let me share a story about someone who was EXTREMELY intentional with me in the past . . .

I have been facilitating a monthly HR Roundtable in Cincinnati for the past 12 years.  I never would have made it this far if it wasn’t for one fateful meeting.  We had another full house and the session went very well.  At the end of the meeting, I was complaining about our local SHRM chapter and pontificating that the Roundtable was “so much better” than what they had to offer.  A person heard this and she literally pinned me to the wall when she did.

She said, “I’m tired of you bashing our chapter.  If it’s so bad do something about it !!  Don’t just sit here making comments.  If you want it to change, then step up and get involved.”  Now, you have to understand that this great person is about 5 ft. 2 in. tall and I’m 6 ft. 5 in. tall.  It was quite the site.

This wasn’t some passionate SHRM zealot.  It was a person who cared about the chapter and didn’t like people making snarky comments about it as if they were film critics who never saw the movie.

I took her words to heart.  I jumped in with both feet !!  Instead of easing into a volunteer capacity, I ran for Vice-President of the chapter.  I won (which surprised me) and that lead to beint the Chapter President.  During my tenure, our chapter won the Pinnacle Award from SHRM at the same conference I’m attending this week.  I went on to be involved at the State level and lead a phenomenal team two years ago for the Ohio HR Conference with our HR Rocks theme !!  We had the most successful conference to date.  Could have stopped there, but then took on the role of State Director for Ohio SHRM – which is where I am . . . for now.

Please forgive my personal SHRM history.  The point is that because someone stepped out and confronted me to take action, I have had incredible fortune and success.  I also have made lifelong friends and have done a small part in trying to make SHRM and HR better.

So, this week I am geeked to see friends, make new connections and see what else I can do to make SHRM even better.  I hope that this week you can do the same in your corner of the HR universe.

It’s time to quit wishing things were better.  Do something about it !!

Play Ball !!

This week I head out to the 40th Annual Ohio HR Conference – HR: A League of Our Own !!  Geeked isn’t even a strong enough word for how excited I am !!

The Conference Committee has once again put together a spectacular event including national speakers, buckets of HRCI credits, incredible Resource Partners and other surprises that will make for a sold-out show !!  Standing room only !!

I know that we are in the midst of State Conference season.  As I was packing my gear getting ready to head north to Kalahari Resorts in Sandusky, Ohio, I wanted to share some things I’ve found that make a conference successful !!

Have a game plan !! – That goes for every aspect of the conference.  How long does it take to get there?  Are you firm on which sessions/speakers you want to see?  There are many more questions to consider, but by planning ahead, you won’t be rushing to decide when you arrive.

Meet the team !! – No game is complete without meeting the great folks around you.  I know this may come easier to some than others, but we’re in HR – we should be able to get out and make some great new professional connections.  This includes both attendees and Resource Partners !!  The vendors may be the perfect piece you’ve been looking for to enhance your efforts at work.  Don’t just get the swag.  It is fun, but meet the great folks too !!

Start the Wave !! – This is a big step for most folks, but conferences are not only a great venue for professional development, but they’re also a great place to stretch a little.  Go to sessions that may show a different perspective than what you’ve traditionally attended.  You may find great information that can make your HR efforts a “grand slam” in your organization !!

So, in the end, get off the bench and hit the field.  It’s time to Play Ball for all of us !!  Make sure you are getting out to a phenomenal SHRM State Conference around you.  They are amazing and you’ll love them !!

 

 

An Intimate 13,500

Had to sit down to write about my experiences at #SHRM12 in Atlanta !!  It’s hard to capture some thoughts when you just spent the last four days with 13,000+ HR professionals in one place !!

The sessions were full of tangible content that ranged from entry-level HR material to edgy, thought-provoking strategic forums that were extremely relevant.  Three that stood out personally were from Jennifer McClure, Jason Lauritsen and former SHRM Chair, Sue Meisinger.

The keynotes from Jim Collins, Condoleezza Rice, Malcolm Gladwell and Tom Brokaw were spectacular !!  Each had a connection to HR in a broader sense.  They pushed us to think far outside our normal boundaries.

As a SHRM volunteer (on purpose), a true highlight for me was having time to network, discuss and share with other SHRM leaders.  It’s humbling to be the State Director for SHRM in Ohio.  Being in this role has great opportunities to move the profession of HR forward !!  To also be with others who share this passion is fantastic, and I always look forward to it.

The work of Curtis Midkiff (@shrmsocmedguy) on connecting HR and Social media was incredible.  To see many peers in the Dice Blogger’s Lounge as well as the educational area called The Hive, was promising.  To see HR start to understand these forums and see where it’s best to connect for them was a key success for the Conference !!

But . . . the TRUE highlight for me was knowing people at the Conference from around the country and then meeting amazing new people !!  Everyday I’d be in the Conference Center and here “Hey Steve !!” being shouted down the hall.  People from Ohio, Virginia, North Dakota, Illinois, California, Louisiana, Florida, New Jersey, Maryland, Alaska, and many other places. It was so cool !!

I noticed that several of the other attendees also had pockets of people they knew, but most of them kept to people they knew from their State.  In the past, I was one of those people too, but things are changing for the better.

HR people are starting to make more connections because they understand that we really do have a ton in common.  What is key to this is that there are connectors (like Malcolm Gladwell highlights in his Tipping Point book) who are reaching out and showing folks that being connected results in meaningful relationships.  This movement will not only improve HR, it will reshape it.

Next year is Chicago and (for the first time I can say) I can’t wait !!