Who Should Get Your #SHRM Board of Directors Vote?

I usually don’t care too much about the #SHRM Board of Directors vote. I should care – but I’m pretty sure I am not the only uninvolved SHRM member out there. This year is different, though, and I care enough to want to blog about that difference.  But my friend Matt Stollak already wrote the perfect post about this year, so why reinvent? And since I know we all get exhausted from clicking through (here’s the link if you feel shamed by that statement), I have just copied and pasted his blog here:

Why THIS #SHRM Board of Directors election REALLY Matters

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, August 6, 2015

About this time each year, I receive notification that SHRM will be having their annual election for their Board of Directors.  I usually gloss over the names, as few, if any, know how individuals are chosen for the vaunted position, and I rarely have heard of those that are on the ballot.  When the ballot arrives, I give a quick vote for the slate of candidates, and it really doesn’t register much more on my mind.   It’s very hard to challenge the status quo, as the SHRM Members for Transparency tried to do.

However, this upcoming election is different.  Why?

Steve Browne is running for the position.

While there are many great attributes about Steve that make him a worthy addition to the SHRM Board of Directors, I’ll highlight two:

1.  Steve Browne knows SHRM inside out as an active volunteer.

Unlike most candidates for the SHRM Board of Directors, Steve rose through the ranks of SHRM volunteer leader.  Not only has Steve served on his state SHRM conference committee, but has served as OHSHRM State Director and President of the Greater Cincinnati HR Association.  In addition, he served on the SHRM Membership Advisory Committee (SHRM MAC).  Based on this experience, Steve will be an active and responsible voice representing the thousands of individuals who volunteer for SHRM on a regular basis.

2.  Steve Browne is active on social media.

When was the last time you saw a tweet from Immediate Past Chair Bette Francis of Twitter?  What about current SHRM President and Board member Hank Jackson?  Or Jeffrey Cava?  It’d be a miracle, because they are not on Twitter.  Current Chair Brian Silva?  One entire Tweet.  The most active member appears to be Jorge Consuegra, who has made a whopping 51 tweets since joining Twitter in 2007.  While being active on Twitter isn’t really that big a deal or should be a determinant for Board status, it does demonstrate an active effort to advance the HR profession.  Steve Browne has 35,000+ tweets and over 27,000 followers.  In addition, he sends out a weekly e-mail called The HR Net (sign up here) that promotes the best in HR.  He also blogs regularly at his own blog, Everyday People, as well as a contributor to CareerBuilder’s Talent Advisor Portal.  He is one of the most active individuals highlighting what is great about the HR profession and HR professionals.

So, when that ballot does arrive in your e-mail inbox.  Don’t hesitate to vote for Steve.


(Many thanks to Matt Stollak for his permission to paste his blog post into mine. He and Steve Browne are basically perfect humans.)

There’s A First Time For Everything, But ROI Helps You Get A Second Time

My first SHRM Annual Conference was supposed to be in 2011 in Las Vegas. The morning I was scheduled to depart, by husband became seriously ill and I missed it. (Gory details here.) But I can easily recall the anticipation and excitement that I felt.

One thing I didn’t feel, though, was intimidated, because in 2011 I was already highly connected –  through social media – with HR people from all over the country. I knew a lot of tips and tricks, because my friends had been talking about SHRM11 for weeks.

So I wasn’t thinking about intimidation and disconnection when I walked into the “First Time Attendee Meeting” at SHRM14 this morning. I went in to ask some first time attendees what their motivation was for attending this particular SHRM annual. I’ll discuss those responses in a minute.

But after talking to some of those first-timers, it is clear that there needs to be a better way to help them navigate. There is an app with all the sessions, but the first timers have no idea how to choose sessions, and are intimidated by the number of choices. They know they have to show their employers some ROI, but they are nervous about how they are going to do that. They want to learn more than where the restrooms are and what parties are important. They want to know where to go to ask questions about their concerns, because they haven’t read any of the blogs or tweets that might help them. They want tips that are more specific than “wear comfortable shoes”.

One of the first-timers suggested a special booth or small meeting space where first-time attendees can get specific advice on how to best meet their needs and goals. A smart bar for rookies. Are you listening, SHRM?

Wooing first-time attendees is important to SHRM, because they will drive attendance in the future, and attendance at SHRM14 is down from previous years.

So what motivated the first-timers to be here?

Based on my survey, the large majority of first-timers came because this was the first time their employer was willing to pay for their attendance. And by “large majority” I mean roughly 10 of the 15 people or so I spoke with. :-)

Attendance at SHRM annual is an expensive proposition, and it is nice to hear that there are more companies that are willing to invest money to get their employees there. But unless those employees can show that attendance was worth every dollar when they get back to work, they won’t be returning.

Before SHRM14, one of the social team asked some Facebook friends why they were NOT coming.  Most of the responses were the same: no ROI.

ROI. Return on Investment. SHRM needs to do more to help sure that attendees get it and show it.




March #SHRMChat Preview – Government Affairs

I started #SHRMChat in the fall of 2011 because I wanted to dialog with leaders in other SHRM-affiliated local chapters and state councils about how to use and promote social media within the chapter or council. Since then our topics have expanded to include a discussion of all Core Leadership Areas (CLAs), concentrating on how state and local SHRM affiliates can improve and expand their competencies in those areas, while continuing to address social media, conferences, and other topics important to chapter leaders.  We chat on the second Tuesday of every month at 8pm Eastern, and I try to have a different SHRM leader act as host each month.

This month our guest host is Lisa Horn, known to many by her Twitter name – @SHRMLobbystLisa. Our topic is “Government Affairs”, a CLA that admittedly troubles many chapters and councils. Lisa is uniquely qualified to host this chat, as her official title at SHRM is Director of Congressional Affairs.

We will address the following questions during the chat, but, as always, please feel free to discuss related issues that are not specifically addressed in the formal questions.

  1.  Other than being a CLA, what should motivate chapters and councils to be more engaged in advocacy and public policy?
  2. Is your membership active with SHRM on advocacy efforts such as the A-Team? What are some of the benefits?
  3. How do you determine which legislative issues are important to your membership? What do you do the address them?
  4. What activities should your council/chapter engage in to ensure a positive legislative environment for the sector to grow?
  5. What is the one most important thing that SHRM national could do to help you increase your involvement in government affairs?


Remember – Join us on Tuesday, March 11 at 8 pm Eastern/7 pm Central. Use the hashtag #SHRMChat on all of your tweets!




May 2013 #SHRMChat Cancelled

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you.” – Jospeh Heller, Catch 22.


I’m beginning to think the gods really are after me. About a week and a half ago I explained a little about some physical limitations that were keeping me away from my keyboard. Since then, things like 6 days of no internet connectivity and sick dogs have conspired to keep me even further away. It is because of those issues that I am forced to cancel #SHRMChat, which should have been held tonight (May 14th). I plan on being back full force on June 11th at 8pm Eastern to discuss the annual SHRM conference. Forgive me now and join me then.

#SHRMChat – January Recap and February Preview



Last month participants were asked to “think outside the lines.”  We wanted to know if chapters/councils attempted to promote programs and conferences outside of their specific geographical area, and if there were benefits or disadvantages to doing so. We asked

  • Q1. Does your state or local promote your conference or program to those who live outside of your boundaries? Why or why not?

Most of the participants did not actively promote their programs outside of their geographical area, although many relied on social media and word of mouth to do so in an informal way. Some felt that there were geographical disadvantages to doing this in their specific state and other chatters stated that they were met with some resistance from other councils when they asked to promote their conference. It was suggested that if some locals made an attempt to hold joint meetings, state councils and SHRM national might be able to interact with more chapters.

  • Q2. Do you have specific strategies to suggest for promoting your conference to other states without creating internal jealousies or competition concerns?

The chat participants were a little stumped by this question, not seeing why outside promotion of their programs and conferences would cause others to be concerned with competition.

  • Q3. Have you ever attended a conference outside of your state (not including SHRM national conferences)? Why?

Most of the chat participants, social media devotees that they are, had attended conferences outside of their state. They were quick to point out, though, that most people were limited in time, resources, and geography, limiting the likelihood of multiple-conference attendance.

  • Q4. What are the benefits or disadvantages of attending other conferences?

Cost, travel time, and missed work were mentioned repeatedly as disadvantages of attending conferences or programs outside of traditional boundaries. The most frequently mentioned advantages were networking and the building of personal relationships. I was surprised that the potential diversity of program offerings was not mentioned in this discussion, although I personally believe in that as a major advantage.

  • Q5. Based on tonight’s discussion, will you do ONE thing you will do to promote your program outside of the state or to change your attendance plans to include another state? Name it.

Most of the chatters agreed that there was sufficient advantage for them to invest in the concept to some degree. One chatter mentioned running announcements in neighboring states via LinkedIn. Another made a commitment to attend another state conference, and yet another participant vowed to promote their future state conference to neighboring states. Everyone agreed that social media can help chapters and councils think outside of their geographic lines.

FEBRUARY 2013 PREVIEW – Government Advocacy

SHRM National recognizes that it is at necessity for the human resources professional to be concerned about public policy. To that end, they have an Advocacy Team (the “A-Team”) to help create a relationship and dialog with legislators to help them understand relevant issues. But advocacy isn’t just a national issue – it means involving people at the state and local level, too. So we’ll discuss that issue this month, with special guest Chatrane Birbal, who is SHRM’s Senior Member Advocacy Specialist. Our suggested questions are:

  1. Are you currently engaged in advocacy activities on behalf of the HR profession? If not, why? If yes, what do you find most gratifying about your engagement in public policy?
  2. What challenges or road blocks do you face in your advocacy efforts? How can SHRM help your group become successful advocates on behalf of the HR profession?
  3. What HR public policy issues are most important to you and why?

I am only posting a few questions this month because after the 1st half-hour, I am going to add the hash-tag #GATChat to our discussion, which is the official chat hosted by the SHRM Advocacy Team during  the State of the Union address. We hope that our participants will stay for at least a while and join in the #GATChat.


Join the #SHRMChat discussion on Twitter – Tuesday, February 12th at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST.

Don’t forget to add a name or three to the “Crowdsourcing SHRM Speakers List here before then!

Baby Steps Are For Infants, Not HR Organizations

It’s been almost 4 years since I fully embraced social media, and 3 years since I started blogging. One of the things I loved about social media from the start was the ability to hook up with a lot of really smart people and hear their thoughts and ideas about business.

One of the recurring themes that I have heard repeatedly during this social media journey is that innovation and movement, whether personal or professional,  requires taking risks and willingness to fail. People in the social media business space are fond of quoting other smart people like Wayne Gretzky (“You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”), Frederick Wilcox (“Progress always involves risk. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”), or Jim McMahon (“Yes, risk-taking is inherently failure prone. Otherwise it would be called ‘sure-thing taking.’ “)

So why do we make exceptions when it comes to HR and the adoption of social media? I have been told many times that the adoption of social media requires baby steps, and that I am wrong to suggest that we push our associations and HR business units harder to adopt effective social strategies.


Real change and innovation in companies, organizations, and associations doesn’t come from acting like a baby who does not have the physical or mental ability to leap. It comes from leaders who are not afraid to leap when it is necessary, knowing that failure is possible but that any failure will bring even more opportunities to learn and change.

Today, Curtis Midkiff, Director of Social Engagement for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), announced that SHRM was a finalist for a 2012 Social Media Leadership Award.  SHRM isn’t a finalist for this award because Curtis took baby-steps to introduce social networking in tiny increments – he took giant leaps since taking his job with SHRM in 2010. Yes, he had some help from volunteers, as he acknowledges in this Facebook post,  but the vision and execution – and risk – was his. From 5 bloggers at the annual conference in 2010, he moved to a massive social media team in 2012, with 100 bloggers, a dedicated space where attendees could get social media training, knowledge, and networking, and a special website specifically for social media news, blogs, and Twitter  before, during, and after the conference.

Those were the decisive moves of a leader, not the tottering steps of an infant who is going to fall down many times, while we all smile and take pictures.

HR and its related organizations should be following this type of leadership, and not making claims that baby steps are a more appropriate strategy.


October #SHRMChat Preview – Membership

“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member” – generally attributed to Groucho Marx


I am going to go out on a limb and say that any SHRM-affiliated chapter that is not actively trying to increase paid membership is in the acute minority. I don’t have any statistics to back that up, obviously, but every rational bone in my body says it is so.

But wanting more members doesn’t make it so – chapters need to learn the best ways to attract and retain them.

And that’s where SHRMChat can try to help. This month’s chat will discuss ways to help chapters increase membership numbers in general. The questions we will discuss are:

  1. Does your chapter or council have a position or committee dedicated to retaining and increasing membership? What are the duties and/or goals?
  2. Many chapters discuss “benefits of membership”? What does your chapter consider a benefit?
  3. What are the top three tools a chapter can use to increase membership?
  4. Are the tools or methods for increasing membership different than those used for retaining members? How so?
  5. Have you found social networking to be effective in membership activities? Which tools or platforms?

As always, we also welcome comments or discussions around the general topic, even if not specifically addressed in a question.

Join the discussion on Twitter by following the hashtag #SHRMChat on Tuesday, October 9th at 8 pm EST/7pm CST.


September #SHRMChat Cancelled

Why should my Facebook friends be the only ones who get to see these pictures?

One week ago (September 4th) I had total knee replacement surgery. And I mean total, because I had both of them done at the same time.

Apparently I think I am Superman or Wonder Woman, because I thought that this surgery meant I would be in the hospital for a couple of days and then my life would go back to normal. After all, when you replace a part on your car, you drive away with a better car. Immediately.

But all of the digging and cutting and tourniquet-ing that the surgeon had to do to create new knees means that none of the muscles in my leg know how to work.

And there is a lot of pain. Damn, there is a lot of pain.

The front looks good compared to the back.

So the medication and the pain are forcing me to put my entire life on hold for another week or two until I can quit taking so many meds and I can string together a lucid thought or two. And that means SHRMChat is just not on the radar tonight.

Thanks for sticking with me – and SHRMChat – during this little glitch. We’ll be back next month!

(Join us on October 9th at 8 p EST/7P CST for October SHRMChat.)

Rocking A Corporate Culture or Rampantly Discriminating?

One of the last slides in the presentation.


When the organizers of the 2012 HR Florida Conference & Expo had their already-paid opening keynote cancel due to Tropical Storm Isaac, they had to scramble a bit to find a substitute.

That scrambling paid off well, because they found a great opening keynote speaker in Jim Knight. Jim was with Hard Rock Cafe for over 20 years, most recently as the senior director of global training and development. His presentation was titled “Create a Rocking Corporate Culture” – or something like that. His engaging and lively discussion centered around the idea that developing a corporate culture is an important part of business success, and that there are specific, positive steps that can be taken to develop that culture.

Now I don’t have an issue with that general premise, and I certainly don’t know anything about what Hard Rock does specifically to hire people who are the “proper” cultural fit, so I am not claiming that they engage in discrimination. But I can tell you this: one of Jim Knight’s early slides showed a 30-ish white female waitress. His explanation for that slide was that when Hard Rock first opened in 1971, they wanted to hire the 30-ish, more mature-looking female so that diners could feel like they were being served by their mother. That slide was their hiring target.

Sounds a little – no, a lot – discriminatory to me. Both sexist and ageist, as a matter of fact.

But Jim went on to say that it was different today, and that Hard Rock hired all kinds of people. And while he was explaining this shift in hiring philosophy, he showed a different slide. That slide contained pictures of 3 or 4 people. All were youthful, with tattoos and piercings and what an older person (like me) would call a “punk rock” appearance.

Not one middle aged white guy wearing a buttoned-down shirt in the picture. That’s a little – no, a lot – discriminatory, too, isn’t it?

I will repeat that Hard Rock may have all kinds of boomers and traditionalists working in their stores, but Jim Knight didn’t choose to show them on his slides because they aren’t as visually appealing when you are giving a talk about rocking corporate culture. So this is not a condemnation of his presentation or former company. But I do believe that anytime an organization hires for any reason other than knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs), there is an exponential leap in the potential for discrimination.

In fact, this current emphasis on hiring for cultural fit can, by itself, create a corporate culture of discrimination. If Hard Rock were to hire only the youthful and tattooed, does that not create a work culture that by itself discriminates against the aged?

Some scholars have pointed out the discriminatory pitfalls of over-emphasis on work culture. One legal scholar even argued that organizational culture or work culture was actually a tool for controlling employee behavior as opposed to empowering employees as some organizations suggest. In calling for more thorough judicial review of discrimination claims, that same scholar stated:

Recognizing the discriminatory potential of work culture and the increasing importance of conformity with work culture to job success should, at the very least, trigger modest reforms in the way courts and litigants think about traditional discrimination claims.

Since no one wants more lawyers involved in determining their employment practices, be very careful when stepping outside of traditional KSAs and hiring for “culture”.

Does your organization hire for cultural fit? What do you do to ensure that those hiring norms are not discriminatory?


Jesus Fish and Religious Tolerance

Suppose you had an employee who put a magentic Jesus fish on the outside or his or her locker at work. You know, one of these:

Now let’s say that another employee saw the Jesus fish and responded with their own magnetic fish on the outside of their locker. But theirs looked like this:


Or even this (which is my personal favorite):

Let’s skip the “HR is not the religion police and we should let these adult employees work out their issues” discussion. Because my concern is not about figuring out how to monitor any differences these employees may have. My concern is this: are the gefilte and Darwin fish a symbol of religious intolerance that needs HR intervention?

This is a relevant question even in the world at large, if you think about it for a minute. After all, would you tolerate someone who mocked a Muslim for wearing traditional clothing? Or would you make fun of a person wearing a piece of crucifix or cross jewelry? These are basic outward symbols of a person’s religious beliefs, and HR would likely not tolerate an employee who made fun of them or the employee that embraced them. Nor should you tolerate it from anyone in the world at large.

But is a gefilte fish or a Darwin fish an outward mocking of the Christian religion? I never thought of them as mocking Christianity, but as alternative expressions of faith. Or, in my case as an atheist, as an expression of a lack of religious faith. There aren’t many ways to publicly proclaim that you are an atheist, after all.

But maybe I’m wrong. A recent discussion among Facebook friends over whether a T-shirt that poked a little fun at polygamy was mocking the Mormon religion made me think of Jesus fish. If a T-shirt that gently chides polygamy is intolerant of Mormons – at least in some people’s opinion –  what does that say about a gefilte or Darwin fish? They are pretty clearly at least a parody of Jesus fish, the symbol which has existed for centuries.

But some people do believe that they are mocking examples of religious intolerance. If you read the link  you may wonder, as I did,  if the Jewish blog writer truly believed in the mocking nature of the Darwin fish, or just didn’t like that it is against creationism, which is also anti-Judaism.

I have never thought that any of the many fish parodies were intolerant, but maybe I need to change my tune.

I’ve always felt myself to be tolerant of religion, even though I am not a believer. I don’t belittle Facebook friends who ask me to pray for their loved ones. I just send good wishes and thoughts and skip the prayer language. I don’t refuse to enter churches or synagogs. Many are historical marvels and I love to look at them. Just don’t ask me to pray in one.

What do you think? Are people who use non-Christian fish magnets mocking the Christian believer, or are they merely promoting their own beliefs?