Social Media Concepts at #SHRM15


Last year (#SHRM14) I wrote a blog about how far SHRM had come with its position on social media presentations since my original involvement in SHRM-related conferencing in 2010.

So I wasn’t exactly surprised this year when the sessions included one titled “Social Business: Social Media Concepts Throughout the Employment Life Cycle”. I had heard that the speaker, Joe Rotella (@JoeRotella) was particularly fun, so off I limped to listen to what he had to say. He had a lot to say, but here are the highlights.


I have been complaining about SHRM presentations that do not focus on marketing for quite a while now. I have also implored SHRM to have more sessions that specifically discussed marketing and other business areas for conference attendees. So when Joe asked how many people in the room were “HR pros” and then reprimanded them, indicating we should call ourselves “business pros with HR expertise”, I gave silent thanks.

He then launched into a discussion of how marketers listen and respond appropriately, the large numbers that actually use social advertising, how hard social marketing actually is, and the elusiveness of social media ROI to the marketer. He also mentioned some specific trends, such as image-centric networks, the rise of micro-video, and the use of LinkedIn for B2B growth.

But in the end, he asked the business pros in attendence to CARE about marketing and to think strategically, because otherwise HR ends up being “the department of sunshine and rainbows.” He made sure the attendees understood why marketers built brands and why it was in HR’s interest to do the same.


Joe defined social business as that which a company needs to become, not a description of a feature or business function. It is not a business that addresses a social problem, but the “intentional creation of dynamic and socially calibrated systems, process, and culture.”

In support of the social business, Joe presented statistics from an MIT study which showed how social business sophistication directly impacts traditional HR concerns, such as hiring needs (57% of employees age 22-52 say social business is at least somewhat important in choice of employer), and improving leadership performance and talent management (83% of employers utilizing social in this area).

Joe predicts that social business is business of the future – “connected, adaptive, and intelligent.”


A large part of Joe’s presentation went through most of the areas of traditional HR functions, and how practitioners could use social media in developing and modernizing those functions. Joe presented specific examples in each of functions such as recruiting, onboarding, training and development, and evaluations. As a former police officer, here’s one of my favorites:

In addition to video, some of Joe’s examples used intranet, blogs, Pinterest, Yelp, and gamification in different areas of the employment life cycle.

By the end of the session, I was ready to jump up and run back to my employer and start adding social media to all of our business processes.

Wait . . . I already do that. But I walked out hoping that the attendees who do not were listening and saw the value of what Joe was saying and were ready to take it back to their business.


May SHRM Chat – Helping Small Business Do HR

According to the US Census Bureau, there were just under 5 million “employer firms” in the US that employed less than 10 employees. Add another 1.2 million firms to that total to include those employers with less than 100 people. I don’t need a statistical study to tell me this: the vast majority of those 6 million plus firms have absolutely no formal or traditional HR  presence. In fact, I began my HR journey in one of those companies.

Unfortunately, formal HR organizations, including SHRM, tend to market themselves to people who are already established HR pros with degrees and certifications. How the small business copes with employee engagement or professional development is just not very high on their to do list, even though the numbers suggest it should be.

This month our SHRM chat will take a look a that issue and discuss how SHRM state and local chapters can help non-HR business people “do” HR.  Joining us as a guest will be Lyn Hoyt.

While Lyn is an avid supporter and participant of SHRMChat on behalf of her local (Middle Tennessee SHRM), many people may not know that Lyn, by profession, is not an HR pro. She is a graphic designer and co-owner of a small business that designs and manufactures framed recognition products. So her experiences through the back door are perfectly suited to our discussion of the following questions:

1. How many or what percent of your chapter members are not traditional HR pros? Do you feel that your chapter/council adequately represents business without a dedicated HR function?

2. Do non- HR pros attend your meetings and functions? Why or why not?

3. What services or programs does your council/chapter offer to help non-HR business people find the resources they need to help them with their HR needs?

For a sneak peek of Lyn’s thoughts on this subject, check out her blog post here.


Join us on TUESDAY, MAY 8th at 8 pm EDST/7 pm CDST for this #SHRMChat! Encourage a friend to come, too!


HR Hates True Diversity

Inc. magazine posted a blog a couple of weeks ago entitled “5 Reasons You Need to Meet in Person”. Reason #3 was “make an impression”, and the author made hers with a pink, faux ostrich purse.

Now, pink is probably my least favorite color, and ostrich – faux or otherwise – is not my preferred texture in a handbag. But I always like messages that encourage people to accept and embrace their individuality. Joe Gerstandt, noted diversity and inclusion author and speaker, calls it flying your freak flag.

Embedded in that paragraph about carrying a pink purse, though, was a sad and telling sentence about the state of diversity in the HR/recruiting world today: “I was worried it was perhaps not professional enough for business.” With that sentence, the author turned her message “make an impression” into “make an impression – but only if it’s safe.”

HR and their recruiting counterparts claim to believe in diversity, but only because they try to be color or race-blind in their hiring decisions.  When it comes to  tons of other things that are marks of individuality – where you went to school, what you wear, what kind of company you keep,and what kind of jewelry you like – HR is incredibly close-minded. They want employees to think and look like them, and like everyone else in the company. That’s why people who write job seeker advice tell you to cover your tattoos and hide your flashy wedding ring, because diversity in HR is a no-no unless it is legally mandated, like race and religion.

In his latest book, Social Gravity (co-authored with Jason Lauritsen), Joe Gerstandt tells a story of working at a job fair with another recruiter when a gentleman visited their booth wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. His co-recruiter dismissed the gentleman as “clearly not management material” without knowing a thing about his talent, competency, or ability.

As Joe points out, we all make assumptions about other people that are often incorrect. HR pros and recruiters like the one in Joe’s story, though, are truly disadvantaged when they don’t fight back against that natural inclination to stereotype, and fail to embrace the worker who may look, talk, or dress just a little bit differently than everyone else. As a recruiter once said to me at a SHRM chapter meeting, “I don’t know why HR cares about all this stuff. They should only care about whether or not the person is going to help them make money. Period.”

So I continue to wear my Fit-Flop brand flip flops to business meetings, because they are the only shoes (except athletic shoes) that my problem feet can tolerate. If people talk behind my back, or if I fail to impress a potential client, so what? I just think of the song “I Am What I Am”, from the musical La Cage aux Folles, where Jerry Herman writes

So what if I love each feather and each spangle? Why not try to see things from a different angle?

Why not, HR?


Why Meetings Should End in Action Items

We’ve all experienced this workplace scenario: just when you’re in a super-productive groove, checking off your to-do list and impressing yourself with your productivity, a reminder pops up: you’re due in a meeting in 15 minutes. “Oh great,” you think. “This will be a complete waste of time.” By the time the meeting is over, your day is completely derailed and you’ve lost your momentum. To make matters worse, nothing was actually accomplished!

Meetings are a necessary part of business. Most of us wouldn’t dread them if we felt they were actually productive, instead of a waste of valuable time. Unfortunately, too often meetings are ineffective, where little is accomplished and participants feel frustrated.

It doesn’t have to be that way. When people have a clear expectation of a meeting’s objective and what they need to do next, they’re more likely to engage. Your meetings will be more productive, and you won’t be wasting anyone’s time. Most important, your colleagues won’t be filled with dread each time you call a meeting.

Here, we’ll highlight some simple ways to make meetings more effective, by respecting everyone’s time, creating action items and following up.

Respect Everyone’s Time

In the current business climate, most businesses are doing more with less. They’re asking employees for higher productivity, or combining the work of two people into one position. When planning meetings, it’s more important than ever to acknowledge that your co-workers could be overworked and stressed out, with very little extra time.

Since people hate wasting time, the meeting organizer’s job is to ensure it doesn’t happen. Here’s how:

  • Decide who really needs to participate, and invite only those people. Provide meeting notes to others who need to be informed, but don’t need to attend.
  • Prepare an agenda and stick to it. Determine the meeting objective and state it front and center. An example might be, “We’re meeting to establish a preliminary range for the sales staff’s annual salary increase.”
  • Then, list the actions that need to occur in the meeting to accomplish the objective. Use verbs such as “discuss,” “review,” “brainstorm,” “schedule,” and “decide.”
  • Keep the meeting as short as possible. If necessary, establish time limits for discussions and table undecided items until the next meeting.

If you’ve run an efficient meeting, you will accomplish the objective. Now, what happens when participants return to their offices and get back to work? Will Steve do that salary survey he mentioned? Was Meredith supposed to contact the management team for input? Or will everyone have forgotten what he or she agreed to do? Assigning action items prevents confusion over who does when, and when.

 Create and Assign Action Items

Before everyone leaves the room, determine what needs to happen next. By following these steps, you’ll have a clear plan of action:

  • Take official notes. Encourage participants to fully engage by assigning an official note-taker or recording the meeting. It’s difficult to be both facilitator and note-taker, so recruit someone else. Assure attendees they will receive a report, including key points and decisions made by the group, along with action items.
  • Decide how decisions will be implemented. Ask participants for input on how the group’s decisions will be implemented. These will be the action items.
  •  Assign tasks to the group. Determine who is best equipped to handle each action item.
  • Distribute notes and action items to the group. As soon as possible post-meeting, distribute a report and list of action items to each participant. Each item should have a clear expectation of what is necessary for successful completion, as well as a due date. Avoid using “ASAP,” since people are more accountable to actual calendar dates.

Assigning action items ensures that the meeting objectives are not forgotten when participants return to their offices and aforementioned to-do lists. It’s just as important to follow up and hold people accountable for their action items.

 Follow Up and Report Progress

Action items are the most important component of a meeting. They ensure something will be accomplished and keep all team members on the same wavelength. Remember, it’s essential to hold your co-workers accountable for their action items, or the due dates will come and go without any progress.

Follow up with each attendee to make sure they’re on track. Stop by to talk, send an email or make a phone call to check in, and extend due dates as necessary. Report any progress back to the entire group on a regular basis, until all action items are complete.

 To Make Meetings Effective, End with Action Items

Meetings can move projects along or stop them in their tracks – it all depends on how they are run. By following these steps, you’ll make your meetings more productive and effective, with actionable items that get things done. Instead of feeling resentful that their time is being wasted, your co-workers might even look forward to your meetings. Especially if you don’t forget the doughnuts!

Erin Palmer is a contributor to U.S. News University Directory – a leading source for higher education information online. The directory provides working professionals a reliable place to locate accredited colleges. Offerings include advanced business degrees and certificate programs in areas such as; human resources, marketing and project management.  For additional information, please visit



Ohio HR: HR Rocks and I Make Pizza

My friend Tammy Colson calls Steve Browne an “insane genius”.  She is correct.

As the Director of the recently concluded Ohio HR  conference, he chose a fun theme – HR Rocks – and then had vendors, presenters, and attendees spend their time immersed in the theme, listening to, looking at, and even dressed like rock stars. Steve himself opened the show in wig and with guitar in hand. (See the video of his opening act here.) There was no way to confuse this conference with any other.

I spent most of my conference time sitting in on sessions that focused on HR as a business function, not as a compliance, benefits, or health care administration department. The best of these sessions were “Making A Business Case To the C-Suite”, by Mark Stelzner, and “Transform From HR Leader to Business Leader” by Jennifer McClure. Both speakers were excellent as they discussed HR pros as business people first and foremost, and how speaking business language, not HR language, was one of the keys to strategic business success.

The most important thing I heard during my 2 day experience came during Jennifer’s session. She was discussing the need for HR pros to look at themselves as business functionaries. She used Steve Browne as an example:  “Ask Steve what he does for a living. He won’t say, “I’m the Executive Director of HR for LaRosa’s. He says, ‘I make pizza.’ ” Jennifer’s point was, of course, that Steve helps run the business – which is a chain of pizzerias. Making pizza is the main function of LaRosa’s, and Steve’s function in the long run. That kind of thinking is what HR needs more of.

It also shows that Steve is a genius, with or without the insane.

Tell Them What They Can Do, Not What They Can’t

Right after I graduated from law school I went to work for a large, “silk-stocking” law firm, where all of the lawyers were stressed and overworked, and large corporate clients paid big bucks to keep them that way.

One lawyer I met in my early days at the firm was different from most of my colleagues. He was bright and cheerful; always ready with help and advice. It was surprising and refreshing, given that he practiced environmental law, one of those practice areas where you deal with unreasonable clients and extensive, obtuse government regulations.

So I asked him one day how he maintained his positive attitude around colleagues and clients, something others in the firm couldn’t manage.  His answer?

“I’m a can-do lawyer.”

He went on to explain that he preferred to tell his clients what they could do, and how to go about doing it, instead of telling them what they could not do. For a lawyer, that’s a pretty radical approach. But his clients loved him for it, and it clearly made him more successful.

I have been reminded of the power of this approach several times in the past month as I make the rounds of HR conferences. Some of those reminders come from speakers, and some come from smart and valuable conversations with other attendees. The message needs to be made to all HR pros, no matter the source:

  • Tell employees what they can do, not what they can’t.
  • Tell yourself what you can do, not what you can’t.
  • When someone gives you an idea, tell yourself how to make it work, instead of telling the giver why it won’t.
What’s stopping you?

CARNIVAL OF HR – Time Of the Season

Yesterday was the first day of summer, and what better way to start the season than with a carnival? So apply some bug spray, grab some cotton candy, and ENJOY!


“Strange voices are saying things I can’t understand” – from Cruel Summer, Bananarama

Summer does not mean an escape from employment and compliance for the HR pro. Eric Meyer  tells us what to know about providing employees with time off at The Employer Handbook and Jessica Miller Merrill cautions about Twitter related terminations at Blogging 4 Jobs.

Finally, in a post I wasn’t given permission to insert but am doing so anyway because I loved the title, we have the folks at I9/E-Verify discussing how the ICE has put a chill into summer.


“Seasons change and so did I, you need not wonder why” – from No Time, The Guess Who

Seasons are always about change of some kind: change of clothes, change of weather, change of attitude. Our bloggers that recognized and wrote about this include Robin Schooling of HR Schoolhouse, who discusses her worst HR job and the changes it brought.

Also discussing change are Laura Schroeder of Working Girl asking what attrition is good for, and Steve Roesler at All Things Workplace discussing the changes that come with a new boss.

Rounding out the change theme was Erik Samdahl at i4cp, who tells us about agility and the willingness to change as a best practice among best companies.


“In the summertime when the weather is hot, you can stretch right up and touch the sky”

from In The Summertime, Mungo Jerry

Many of our carnival writers recognize that summertime is a good time for personal reflection and growth, like Sri Subramanian of the Talented Apps team, who tells us that performance reviews come around like the seasons, and to use that self-evaluation wisely.

Jennifer V. Miller at The People Equation suggests using the summer to create a “career bucket list.” Lyn Hoyt, guest blogging at Working Girl, discusses work-life balance and making time for everything.

Rob Lockard discusses a related, but slightly different season – graduation season. A commencement address became the inspiration for his post about The Lovejoy of the Season.

Finally, we have Naomi Bloom writing Harry’s and Naomi’s Rules To Live By. Hoe many of these rules do YOU live by – and how many will you embrace this summer?


That Championship SeasonPulitzer Prize-winning play by Jason Miller

Lois Melbourne loves the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, and she uses her blog at Aquire, Inc. to analyze how their organizational talent management created their championship team. Also discussing talent mangement is Jay Kuhns of NoExcusesHR, who wants you to determine what that phrase means within the four walls of your own organization.


“Sweet days of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom” – from Summer Breeze, Seals and Crofts

Some contributors took the theme quite literally, and contributed posts specifically about the summer season or issues that are specific to the summer, like Evil Skippy, who hilariously discusses the summer vacation request, and what to do about employees who try to beat the system. Another humorous look at summer HR issues is Stan the HR Stand-up Man (Ian Welsh), who discusses all kinds of summer issues, like dress codes.

Interns are usually a specific-to-summer HR issue, and Susan Heathfield at gives you pointers on how to make your summer intern program sing.

In her aptly named post, “Summertime”, Alive HR author Krista Francis compares the organizational lifestyle to the changing seasons, and Kevin Eikenberry wants you to learn six ways to work and lead differently this summer.

Camping is a huge summertime activity in my home state of Michigan, so I was pleased to read that the Brits enjoy this summer ritual, too, according to Doug Shaw at What Goes Around Limited in his post Windy, Wet and Wonderful.

To wrap everything up, why not watch and listen to Dwayne Lay of LeanHR give a weather report from his current professional travels in Europe. He’ll talk about change management, too. 😉







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SHRM11 – Rant or Rave?

Society for Human Resource Management
Image via Wikipedia

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I like to write a post-conference post called Rants and Raves, telling what I liked and didn’t about the conference.  You may also know that I am attending the monstrous (15K +attendees) annual conference held by the Society for Human Resource Management in less than a week. For an explanation of how I came to attend this conference with a social media pass, click here.

As the holder of a social media pass, I will be blogging from the conference on a daily basis. At least that’s the plan. Plans change sometimes, as you all know. But being the impatient, and admittedly very excited, soul that I am, I decided not to wait until the official start of the conference on Sunday, June 26 to start blogging. Besides, there are already SHRM11 things that I am eager to rant and/or rave about.

So my plan is to start my daily SHRM blog tomorrow. I will use the same title every day; you’ll have to read the blog to see if I am ranting or raving  that day. Maybe I’ll do both. I’ll be taking a break from SHRM posts on Wednesday to host the Carnival of HR, but then I will be right back.

Stay tuned.

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HRevolution and SHRM – Beauty and the Beast

Every year around this time there is a discussion among my online Human Resources friends about whether to join or renew membership in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

This disagreement exists because many in the online HR community think SHRM is old-fashioned, out of touch, and fails to deliver real value for the dues charged. In fact, the fine HR pros over at Fistful of Talent are so anti-SHRM that they considered holding their own alternative event.  So what prompted SHRM to sponsor HRevolution, an alternative HR event that is full of what China Gorman coined “HR activists”?

Good question.

Last year, SHRM approached the HRevolution 2010 planning committee late in the planning stages, seeking a small sponsorship. It was late when they came on board, and their presence at the event was somewhat limited. Last month, at the 2011 event, SHRM was a much greater presence, even sending Curis Midkiff, their Social Media Strategist, to attend.  According to Curtis, SHRM supports HRevolution because the event offers us an opportunity to participate in an event that brings together with a diverse cross-section of the HR community who are passionate about the profession and are working in various capacities to shape the future of HR.”

To show their commitment to the HR activists that are the heart and soul of HRevolution, SHRM gave away, by means of a general door-prize drawing, two full-access social media passes to their huge national conference in Las Vegas next month. In addition to full session access, the pass allows the holder to access the social media lounge with WiFi, where social media influencers can gather to tweet, post videos and blogs, and connect. At the time the winning names were drawn, those  passes were worth at least $1,400.

I thought this was an incredibly gutsy move on SHRM’s part. They had no idea whose name they were going to draw, and they could have been inviting an anti-SHRM wolf into their chicken coop. In my view, this is evidence that SHRM knows that they have work to do to make themselves relevant to those that are working to shape the future of HR, and are talking some small steps to do so – and there is nothing at all wrong with small steps. As  Alan Mencken and Howard Ashman said in song:

Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
Just a little change
Small to say the least
Both a little scared
Neither one prepared
Beauty and the Beast.

For the record, I won one of those passes to SHRM 11. Needless to say, I promptly renewed my membership, and I am looking forward to watching the Beast try to transform back into royalty.

Snowpocalypse 2011 – Man Up or Wimp Out?

Last Tuesday, the day before the Detroit area was to receive a major blizzard, I asked my husband if he intended to go to work the next day.  After he glared at me with a withering look, he answered, “We’ll see.”  His withering look and dismissive answer told me how foolish the question really was.  I have lived with him for almost 25 years, worked at his food processing business for over 10 years, so I should have known this without asking: you don’t close the business for weather.

That’s not to say that he would never close the business for a weather related emergency, hence the cryptic “we’ll see.”  His point was that a true weather emergency is, by definition, sudden and unexpected.  If Wednesday came and there was no way to drive the 25 miles to get to work, then he would decide not to go.  Deciding not to work in advance does not, in his opinion, make good business sense.

His attitude got me thinking about my long work experience and the days when the phrase “snow day” didn’t even exist.  I remembered the Great Blizzard of 1978 and specifically recalled one of my fellow police officers calling the station and saying, “I can walk up to Ford Road if someone can get to me and pick me up.”  That is exactly how he got to work when he couldn’t get his car out of his driveway.  In other words, he sucked it up and went to work. So did the rest of us.  No excuses, and, more importantly, no expectations that it should be any different.

Of course I understand that sometimes weather emergencies are so bad that people should not risk their safety for their job. Hurricanes or tsunamis come to mind.  My point is that it’s pretty difficult to tell a full day in advance, particularly with snow, if the weather is going to create that type of a risk.  Before Snowpocalypse 2011 even arrived, though, people were fully expecting to take the day off.  Many businesses announced on Monday – two full days in advance – that they were going to close.

Maybe the reason that Ford Motor Company didn’t need to be bailed out by the government (unlike GM and Chrysler), and is now posting record profits, is that they make careful and sensible business decisions, like not canceling production solely on a weather prediction.  People got to work safely last Wednesday, even if they were a little late. (My husband got to work in one hour, which is about 20 extra minutes.)  If half of the Ford workforce “didn’t show up”, as this man posted on Facebook, perhaps FoMoCo will decide that they don’t need that many workers after all.  That certainly wouldn’t help any employees.

Tell me what you think!  Is it in the best interest of workers if companies cancel the work day for snow or other weather related emergencies?  Should it be done in advance, or should a company wait until the full effects of the emergency are known?

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