Do The Work !!

Do you enjoy meeting people personally and professionally ?? Does there have to be a compelling reason to do so ?? Is the only reason you meet people is because you read a blog post that tells you to ??

I’ve been thinking about this lately because I thrive on meeting new people. That’s a fact. Whenever I go to a new environment, I reach out to meet people. I really want to get to know them, know who they are and something unique about them. I understand that this isn’t the norm and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have the capacity to take in more and more folks.

You see, I’m not a collector. Many people who network are because they have some ulterior motive that is intended to result in a sale of their services or products. When this occurs, people are only scratching the surface of truly connecting and yet people continue to do this. Just last week a person who was a guest at the restaurant I work at came up to me and said, “You look friendly and are always smiling. Here’s my card, I represent . . . .” I was floored. No name. No introduction. Just a chance to whip out the 30-second sales pitch because this is how you think it’s effective to meet other people. I threw his card away.

Let me share an example of how networking has a lasting effect – as it should !! My best friend, Fred, calls me every week. Every. Week. He checks in to see how things are with me personally and professionally. He also just stepped up to run a monthly networking group, GETDOT Cincinnati, as their new President. By the way, he’s officially “retired.” Meeting new people really shouldn’t matter to him anymore should it ??

Fred is not only a dear friend, but he’s a great mentor and example that you need to have relationships with those in your network. That is the key !! If you can’t tell others about a connection past a rectangular piece of paper, then they really aren’t a connection at all. Remember, if you’re too busy to make time for others, don’t have them in your network and don’t be in theirs. That may sound a bit harsh, but great connections encourage each other. They don’t use each other.

Do The WorkThe key to networking is to Do the Work !! I think that having a viable network and being an effective networker should be a mandatory skill for all business people and especially for those in HR. Let me be clear – this is a business skill and not a job hunting skill. We’ve lost sight that having a set of “go to” people makes you a stronger professional in your role both within your company and in your industry.

The challenge I see is that HR people are hesitant to reach out and meet others in our field. I don’t understand this because I’ve only seen it benefit me personally and allow me to have access to incredible folks !! This isn’t a factor of being extroverted or introverted. It is a factor that we don’t see the value of taking the time to connect with others.

This week, I’d like you to start doing the work of connecting. Make a commitment to connect with one or two new people in HR. Send them a Linked In request with a personalized invitation. Be active on Twitter and connect with other HR folks and share HR blogs you read with others. Go to events and find a few people you don’t know and take the time to intentionally meet them.

Be good with adding just a few people to your network each week. If you have a larger capacity, meet more people. However, commit to making sure they are connections and not collections. You’ll be a stronger HR pro when you have others around you that can encourage you and share their experiences and knowledge.

I hope you understand that I know that this makes a difference. It will be some of the most meaningful work you’ll ever do !!

It Only Takes 3 Chords !!

I don’t know if many people were as excited as I was about some music news this week, but I was Geeked !! Rock giants, AC/DC, released their seventeenth album called Rock or Bust.  I’ve heard a few tracks and it sounds much like their whole catalog.

You may not be a fan of these Metal legends, but I found myself immersed in them because the Classic Rock station on Sirius XM was “taken over” as AC/DC radio.  Members of the band shared their past experiences and their excitement over their new work.

AC/DC is one of those bands who people have been critical about because they follow a simple three chord method to their songs.  It’s true that their songs don’t have a ton of musical variety, but they have released songs that will be played for generations to come.

So, what does this shout-out to one of my fave bands have to do with HR ??  Everything, but it takes you looking at something that is missing and how this can fix it !!

I continue to come across HR people who are in transition.  I am surprised that the first time I meet them is when they are looking for a job.  It is disappointing because I have this crazy goal that I want to be connected with as many HR people as I can.  I don’t want to see anyone who isn’t a part of a greater HR community.

I don’t understand it.  I don’t understand how you can be in HR and not be intentionally connected to others in our field.  These connections are so much more than a method to find another HR gig.  They result in strong, life-long relationships filled with resources and knowledge that you can’t get on your own.  It’s just not possible.

Three Chords ShirtI don’t feel that everyone should try to have as many contacts as someone else, but you should have three !!  You see, I believe in the power of mentoring.  I don’t follow the definition that you find in many HR circles stating that you set up a mentoring relationships for a set period of time and then it should fade away.  I think that this approach often turns out one sided and focuses on someone’s specific need instead of looking at the whole.

So, here’s the model I do follow !! You can’t have a mentor unless you mentor someone yourself.  The three “chord” model makes sure that you are giving as well as learning from someone else.

I also feel that you should seek out these triads intentionally.  I have a few mentors who I’ve been with for decades and I have a few mentees who have been with me for many years as well.  I also make sure that the relationships are as deep as needed.  The mentor/mentee relationships I have vary from somewhat more on the surface to others that know no end to their depth !!

In fact, I just reached out to a friend to ask if I could have him be a mentor and work with him in 2015.  His response was awesome – “color me intrigued and honored.”  I’m excited to see where it goes.

So, I ask you to join me and set up your trio of connections !!  Remember it only takes three chords to make a band !!  To get you started, I leave you with this . . . (you’re welcome.)

Image courtesy of Old Skool Hooligan Tees

I Can’t Wait !!

ExcitementIn a few weeks, I will be heading to Orlando, Florida for the SHRM Annual Conference. To say that I’m Geeked would be an undersatement !!  It’s a chance to break away from the daily norms and be with 14,000+ of my HR peers.  Some may find that overwhelming while I see it as welcoming.

There are many reasons that are making this year’s conference even more intriguing.  The obvious item that will gather the most attention will be the next steps in the SHRM Certification transition.  I want to see where things will go and it will be great to see and hear things first hand.  I also have the great chance to meet with the SHRM Board of Directors as part of the Membership Advisory Committee (MAC).  I’m fortunate to be a part of a great team of other volunteer leaders from around the US who are seriously intentional and engaged HR pros.

To top all of this off, as if that wouldn’t be enough already, I get to speak !!  When I heard that was going to be a part of the program, I was humbled.  I truly was.  You see, giving the presentation will be a thrill in itself, but even more than that I’ll be talking to my peers.  I have been at many conferences and hear that HR folks want to hear from fellow practitioners.  Now I get the opportunity to do that.  Wow !!

Conferences give you a chance to meet great HR pros from all over, develop lasting professional relationships and get connected to resources that help you do your job better.  If you’re going to SHRM14, I’d love to see you and connect !!  I mean that.  I try to meet as many folks as I can because I find that I have learned more from these great people over the years than I ever would have on my own.

I know that there are several reasons why people go to conferences, but for me it truly is all the people.  It’s fascinating to realize that there are so many others who practice HR and have a chance to do it in various ways !!  I also plan to see other sessions from people that take a different look at HR.  I look for sessions that stretch and challenge me because I want to bring back items that will allow me to improve HR in my workplace.  I don’t want to settle for something or sit through a topic just because it gets a certain level of credit.

So, as my level of excitement continues to grow, I hope to see you !!  It would make my Conference to get to see you, meet you and experience it with you.  Geeked !!

Image courtesy of blogworld.com

 

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 !!!

 

HR in the Five One Three !!

This blog post is part of a collection created by various Human Resources professionals that was the brainchild of Victorio Milian (@Victorio_M). This “Carnival” of HR posts centers around the theme of HR and Home. To read the rest of the collection click here. You’ll be glad you did!

I am a Cincinnatian.  It’s not where I “started,” but having been here since 1986, I can say proudly it’s my home.  Being an HR pro in a conservative city has its advantages and disadvantages.  It’s safe and stable, for the most part.  But, the struggle for innovation took some time to blossom honestly.

You see, HR has deep roots in Cincinnati !!  Back when SHRM was the American Society for Personnel Administration, two local SHRM HR chapters gathered.  The Butler/Warren County SHRM chapter, just north of Cincy, has the designation of chapter “001” and the Greater Cincinnati HR Association (GCHRA) , my home chapter, is designee “008.”  So, we were in on the ground floor once chapters started forming.

Like most areas of SHRM, the chapters kept to themselves, but then a group of HR pros began stepping forward.  When you look at the history of the Ohio State Conference and the State Council of SHRM, you’ll find many Cincinnatians who were Conference Chairs, State Directors and Regional reps for SHRM.  These great folks laid the groundwork for what’s happening now in the Queen City.

You see, we started reaching out and connecting HR pros before Social Media came along.  We didn’t know that we were going to be “ahead of the curve,” but it appears that we were.  The HR Net was started through GCHRA back in 2001 to try and get HR pros more connected.  It started as a simple e-mail listserv tied to an internet message board with 200 people.  Now, in 2012 it reaches over 6,000 HR pros worldwide and allows them to post questions and events that are HR related.  Two things that differentiate this forum from most is that it’s free (and always has been) and each week people can sing along to a song parody about HR !!

As Social Media started to be born, Cincinnatians jumped in with both feet !!  It was like people were just waiting for the mechanism to get more connected.  Some of the early adopters (who are still active and visible) include Jennifer McClure (@JenniferMcClure), Margo Rose (@HRMargo) and Benjamin McCall (@BenjaminMcCall).  One of the things that “put us on the map” was when we “won” the most active HR community as the (513), our area code, on an episode of Steve Boese’s (@steveboese) great HR Happy Hour blog radio show !!

More and more HR practitioners and consultants from Cincinnati jumped into the Social Media HR space and began phenomenal blogs and started reaching out to become part of the larger HR community.  When I was asked to finally jump into the Social Media pool, I brought the platform of reaching HR pros that we started with me and then things exploded !!

One of the genuine positive outcomes of Social Media is that it has taken communities that only existed in their hometown and started intertwining them together.  Many of the great things we had done in Cincinnati were being done in other pockets around the country.  Being in Cincy, you are in a place that exudes that hometown feel.  We are doing our best to make others from around the Social Media space and the HR profession join us and make that hometown feel permeate throughout all we do !!

So, now I’d say, looking back at things that we have been innovative and the future only looks bright !!  I hope that we are a catalyst that continues to bring HR folks together for years and years to come !!

Image Courtesy of Zazzle

Knowing Others . . . On Purpose !!

I’m about to disconnect for the next week as I head with my son and Troop 941 to Summer Camp.  It’s one of the best things I do each year !!  It allows me to take in nature, be around great kids/adults and meet others that I never would have known before !!

It made me think of something that has been happening more and more often.  I LOVE networking with folks !!  I have this huge capacity to try to connect with as many people as humanly possible.  That’s just how God wired me.

I do this a bit differently than I’ve seen others lately doing somethings I’d love to see change.  I wanted to encourage each of you who are kind enough to read this blog to try something when it comes to this “networking” thing . . . be intentional !!

I get a ton of Linked In requests each week.  It’s cool because, like I said, I love connecting with people.  However, most of the requests I get use the standard line from the platform.  It says that we’re “friends” even though we’ve never met, and there’s no reason given why someone wants to connect.  I find this intriguing !!

I always send a note giving a reason for someone to consider if they want to accept, if they want to connect, or why we should try to do this !!  I do this on purpose because if you’re willing to be a connection, then you need to know that you just entered into a relationship that will be fully intentional.

Valuing people and what they bring to relationships is missing these days.  Some people spend time “collecting” others to beef up their social media numbers thinking that volume gives them more credibility or a voice.  Odd.

Now, I’m connected to literally 1,000’s of people.  Here’s what’s different.  I do my best to reach out to folks and drop them a line, give them a surprise call, note what’s happening to them through Facebook, Twitter, Linked In etc.  These platforms can be used to truly connect people, but they are just a gateway.  The next step is up to you !!

So, I plan to keep connecting and meeting folks everywhere I can.  I hope that they want to reciprocate and be intentional as well.  When that happens, then you can see amazing things occur.  It also allows you to be sincere in making your connections link with others.

This week . . . let’s make “different” the norm.  Be intentional !!  You’ll love it !!

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 !!

Are you reaching out ??

A few weeks ago, my good friend Dave Ryan was the guest host of the Hire Friday Chat (#HFChat).  It’s a chat on Twitter for both HR folks and job seekers.  Dave’s topic was, “Do you have an HR Buddy?”  It was a fast paced chat that really intrigued me.  I was thinking to myself, “Do HR people see themselves as a resource for others – especially those in transition?”

The economy is still rough.  A telltale sign of this was something that happened to me the day after the chat.  I was asked to present a one-hour session on writing a resume and job search tips for local teachers who were losing their jobs.  Over three sessions, I saw 100+ teachers who were upset, confused, disillusioned and not sure what to do.  Oh, by the way, this is the district where my kids go to school.

The sessions were upbeat and I made sure there was a ton of laughter !!  They needed to just let it out a little more than listen to someone tell them what to do.  I also explained that I understood what they were facing because I had been in transition over my career as well.

At the end of the sessions, I was spent.  I went home and crashed on the couch because I had really gone through the whole roller coaster of emotions with the teachers.

I challenged the teachers to start networking and reach out intentionally.  One way I did this was by not giving them business cards.  I gave them my e-mail address and said that the first step in moving forward is to take action.  So, if you want to connect, then you need to reach out first.  An amazing number of them did and I was jacked up once again !!  I also asked them to Link In with me, start searching my contacts and the companies I might know.  Again, an incredible response !!

As HR professionals, I feel that ALL of us (ALL !!!) need to do more to reach out to those in transition.  Here’s why:

  • We can give sage advice on how to deal with HR people – and not have them want to kill us !!  Remember – the last person most of these people talked to was an HR person.  Soften the blow on dealing with HR and show them that we truly can be “human.”
  • We have skills in recruiting and interviewing.  Let people in transition “behind the curtain” so they can be more successful in their search.
  • There’s incredible talent out there right now.  There are many still available and looking who may be that great fit you’re looking for in your company.  Reaching out to the transition community makes you that first choice !!

I could list many, many more reasons why HR should be reaching out.  I know it takes time and effort on top of already full days/schedules.  However, remember this . . .

One day you may be in transition too.

Wouldn’t you want someone who would reach out to you ??