If the term “human resources” is in your name, like Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it would be reasonable to expect that you know something about choosing qualified candidates for a job function. Right?
So if SHRM – or a SHRM-affiliate – is looking for a conference speaker to discuss Twitter and how it relates to employment law, it would also be reasonable to expect that the speaker is knowledgeable about, well . . . Twitter and employment law.
Am I missing something here?
I ask because SHRM, the national organization, and some SHRM affiliates, don’t seem to agree with me. They have an unusual habit of presenting employment lawyers to talk about the crossroads of law and social media, but who know nothing, or close to nothing, about social media.
I am not making this up.
I first came into personal contact with this questionable practice in March 2010, at the SHRM Legal-Legislative Conference. Better writers than I blogged about it. Since then, I have encountered the practice several times, most recently at the massive SHRM annual conference in Las Vegas. Check here and here for rants about that session. Sadly, my own state will be adding to this travesty this October, when they present a session on “Twitter and Terminations”, led by an employment lawyer who is not on Twitter, and whose entire social media presence consists of a LinkedIn profile.
This practice truly short-changes attendees. Attendees have every right to expect that a human resources organization has properly vetted their speakers and trainers, and that those people have a certain amount of expertise in the totality of their topic. This is especially true since it is so easy to search people using Google to see if they have any kind of social presence at all.
If SHRM and other organizations want to really delve into their evaluation of a speaker’s social media involvement, they can also use rating sites like Klout or PeerIndex to see how involved a speaking candidate is on social media. I am not advocating that a potential speaker has a particular rating or number, but they should at least have one.
Is that really too much to ask?
I attended a strange and amazing “unconference” two days ago. It was called HRevolution and it was a collection of HR and recruiting pros coming together to discuss social media and its intersection with their professional life. It was the first out-of-town HR conference I had ever attended, made up mainly of bloggers (including Twitter micro-bloggers). The ideas flew fast and furiously, and I already have several HR University lesson plans in the works based on thoughts generated at the Revolution. Those lessons will have to be spread out over several posts, but I want to start here with some introductory remarks about the Revolution in general:
- This conference was organized by Trish McFarlane, Ben Eubanks, Crystal Peterson, and Steve Boese. Sponsors included Monster.com, Nobscot, Blogging4Jobs, Sanera, and Fusion Frames. All of these people and companies live and work in different parts of the USA, but they came together seamlessly for an outstanding presentation. My local SHRM chapter, where everyone lives and works within a few dozen miles of each other, needs to take lessons.
- One of the attendees at HRevolution, Frank Zupan, lives and work in Cleveland. He eats corned beef at a deli called Slyman’s; they buy corned beef made at United Meat & Deli (UMD) in Detroit. The corned beef is injected/pumped with pickling brine with a machine operated by Joaquin Arredondo. Joaquin is a permanent resident alien (has a green card) – a status that I helped him obtain as the HR manager at UMD. That circle (Frank to Joaquin to me to Frank) of connectivity wasn’t created by HRevolution or Twitter, but it was discovered there. It makes a compelling argument for the continuing exploration of social media, and it slaps the argument that “people only connect on social media because they can’t connect in person” right in the face.
- Laurie Ruettiman of Punk Rock HR is a true superstar of the HR blogosphere. Ooohs and aaahs were audible when she arrived, and I am old enough to be her mother. In fact, I discovered through conversation with her that I am older than her mother. But she, like the other Gen X and Ys present (which was most of the room), was absolutely energizing. Boomers like me can learn a lot from these smart kids, if we will listen.
- None of the attendees at HRevolution had met me before; they only knew who I was because of my Twitter presence. Yet almost everyone who knew who I was (because of my avatar) hugged me. It was marvelous because I really like hugging.
- HRevolution attendees have an absolute fascination with bacon. I have no idea what the origin of this fascination is, or why it continues. I am happy to indulge the fascination, though. The first HRevolution attendee who comments (10 words or more required) on this blog post will receive the book “Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon” as a gift from me.
More lessons to follow; stay tuned!