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 !!

We’re Everywhere !!

I just returned from an incredible conference in San Antonio, Texas for the HR/TD group of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).  This was my second time with this group of HR professionals and I have to say that, as a whole, they are some of the most welcoming folks I’ve met in our field !!

I never take it lightly when I get the opportunity to speak in front of any group – especially peers in my field.  I know the challenges they face in their organizations, how others outside of HR view the field and that working with people can be tough.  However, I also know that they have the ability to be amazing in what they do and where they work !!

It was truly fascinating to be inside an HR group within an industry.  Because, you see, most of us don’t even know these great HR pros exist !!

The majority of people in HR have a very narrow focus.  You can read all you want about being “broad,” but most people have either a comfort zone or a personal capacity where they keep their HR community pretty close.  Be honest, we tend to look for HR “voices” either in Social Media or through SHRM National, or local chapters.  These are all great avenues to connect with HR people, but it’s not the only place we exist.  The fact is . . . HR people are everywhere !!

Since that is the case and HR people are everywhere, what keeps us from connecting?  Let me throw this out to you . . .

We’re surrounded by people every day, and we lose site that there would be an advantage to get to connect with other great HR pros.  The “negative” voices rear their ugly head like – “They’ll probably want something from me.”  “What if they’re creepy?”  “I really don’t have time for more people in my already busy life.”

We’ve bought into the myth that our current relationships can provide all we need to be effective HR folks.  In fact, some companies HR people NEVER leave the confines of their own organization because they’re gigantic and they feel they have all the resources they need internally.

Don’t buy it !!  I can give you countless stories of great HR people I continue to meet, interact with, and connect to others.  I’m glad this faction of the HR world asked me to venture to Texas.  I told them that I was writing about them and hope to see more of them get connected in the greater HR universe.

My hope is you do this as well !!  This week, step out.  Meet one new HR connection.  I guarantee it will only improve what you do and how you look at HR !!

A Sort of Homecoming . . .

This past weekend I was at the SHRM Regional Council Summit.  It sounds like a very formal name, but it’s not that kind of event.  It’s where the State HR Council Directors get together to get updates from SHRM, share best practices and meet others that are in similar roles from all over the country.

I have to say that going into the weekend, I didn’t know what to expect.  However, at the end of the conference I was even more assured of how amazing HR really is !!  You see, I was able to meet friends from all over the country that I had never met.  We had much more in common than we even imagined.  I’m not talking about being SHRM volunteers.  I talking about great HR pros who are making a difference in the profession and in their companies.

I continue to be amazed that when you experience this kind of camaraderie and energy, that HR people still don’t want to be connected because it takes too much effort or time.  Trust me, being more connected to other great folks only gives me access to more resources and insight into what HR does.

Most of you know that I’m a gigantic U2 fan !!  When I was thinking of putting this together, the song A Sort of Homecoming came to mind.  It talks about a person who’s searching because they’re isolated until they come home.

When I go to events like this at the local, regional and national level, I feel like this by “coming home” to friends who I don’t get to see that often, but I know they’re always there.  I saw the same reaction from others that I met.  We WANT to be together and need to be both as people and as professionals.

I saw many folks get connected on Twitter and social media this weekend because they met others who find it successful.  I saw people share incredible resources from SHRM and their states that make HR better in every aspect from Employee Relations to Advocacy to Compliance to Culture and Professional Development.

So, this week, quit trying to do HR on your own.  Reach out and get connected !!

Try a conference, attend a local HR meeting, or send an e-mail to Link In or join Twitter.  You are part of an amazing community who wants to be connected to YOU !!  Take the step and make that happen.

 

Connecting the Dots !!

Most people start the New Year with resolutions that quickly fade or fail leaving people with a feeling of sluggishness.  Sweet !!

I want to offer an alternative and that is to make 2012 intentional !!  Let’s start with a story . . .

I went to SHRM Leadership this past fall with other SHRM State and Chapter leaders and directors.  Many people spent time with folks from their own state or region because they’re familiar with each other and it is a great time to get away.  I, on the other hand, spent much of my time meeting great folks from Illinois, Florida, Alaska, Kansas, SHRM staff, etc.  I couldn’t get enough of meeting HR folks from other areas to see how we connect.  To me, this was the best way to spend time because there are so many amazing HR pros all over that do great things.  I had to see what they were doing.

So, I’d like to throw out this challenge (and opportunity) to all of you in the HR community – In 2012, start connecting the dots !!

I know that the whole “social media” thing can be overwhelming and noisy.  However, I find there are  folks developing and sharing great content that you can use in many facets of our work.  We need to stop thinking that isolation works for us as a profession and do what we can to be more connected.

Now, I’m not sure what that looks like for you, but let me list some suggestions:

  • If you’re someone who reads blogs – take a step and leave a comment.  Bloggers love to hear from folks who read their work.  If you feel compelled, then comment.
  • If you haven’t been to a local HR forum, then go to one.  Try them out and see where you can connect in person with other great HR folks !!
  • If you haven’t been to a conference or Unconference, then make plans to go to one this year.  You’ll find incredible people, just like you, connecting and learning more to advance the profession.
  • If you haven’t met folks in person, then take the steps to do that !!  One of the true highlights I had in 2011 was meeting social media HR folks in person.  It has led to incredible personal and professional relationships.
  • If you’ve just been service oriented in HR at work, change that and be intentional !!  Organizations expect HR to be dynamic, relevant and integrated.  Take the steps to make that happen !!

It’s just a start, but I hope that you take the next step to be more intentional.  I’ve already been making plans to meet more great HR folks in person and I’m using the same list for myself.  It’s time to take action !!  Will you join me ??

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 !!

Will it Make a Difference ??

As I’m typing this post, many of my peers and friends are enjoying the SHRM11 Annual Conference.  Yes, I am jealous because I always enjoy being with others who share my passion of HR !!  The tweets that are flying under the #SHRM11 hashtag are great to read, but they lack in that personal experience.  Ah, well, maybe next year . . .

The question I want to pose to the 14,000+ HR pros who have gathered at SHRM11 is  . . . Will it Make a Difference?

Will attending the largest gathering of those in your profession change how you approach HR when you return to your various workplaces?  When the lights and sites of Las Vegas dissapate, will you be making more of an impact in HR, or will you go back to the norms and ways you are following today?

I hope it transforms you !!  You can’t miss the chance to attend events like this and not come away with great things like new contacts, a broader vision of what HR offers, a new way to tilt the windmills that face you on a daily basis !!  Don’t just get enamored by the great keynotes, the great vendor events and the endless piles of swag you’ll take home from the Exhibit Hall.

Use this time away from the office this week to come back energized, enthusiastic and willing to move your company forward !!

If people don’t do this, we will continue to fight a stereotype that I personally heard this week from a question I posted on Focus.com regarding development vs. training.  A person responded that HR has to first “get it’s act together” before focusing on either topic.  I responded to this person and was pretty pointed that I didn’t appreciate his stance on our field.  He’s entitled to say what he’d like, but it eats at me that anyone continues to think that HR doesn’t “get it.”

So, don’t disappoint me you 14,000+ HR folks attending SHRM11 !!  I know you’ll have a wonderful time, meet and catch up with wonderful peers . . . just remember to come back and make a difference personally, professionally and for HR as a whole !! I can’t wait to see what you’ll do !!