#SHRMChat – March Recap and April Preview

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March Recap

Our March #SHRMChat  on Governmental Affairs was hosted by Lisa Horn,  Director, Congressional Affairs at SHRM. The discussion was spirited and engaging, and every question was enthusiastically discussed. Here is the briefest of recaps, so you can know what you missed, or what type of chat you can expect next time. 😉

 1.  Other than being a CLA, what should motivate chapters and councils to be more engaged in advocacy and public policy?

Most of the answers to this question revolved around two main themes – (1) it helps the chapter or council build relationships with their members, and (2) advocacy and policy is a professional issue, not just a SHRM issue, so all HR practitioners have an important stake in the knowledge and development that advocacy activity creates

2. Is your membership active with SHRM on advocacy efforts such as the A-Team? What are some of the benefits?

Based on the discussions, state councils are far more active in this area than local chapters are. Somewhat surprisingly, most agreed that advocacy involvement is largely individual instead of chapter or council wide.

3. How do you determine which legislative issues are important to your membership? What do you do the address them?

The three most commonly cited methods were (1) polling, (2) roundtables, and (3) bringing in state directors or volunteers to speak at or discuss with local chapters.

4. What activities should your council/chapter engage in to ensure a positive legislative environment for the sector to grow?

There were almost as many answers to this questions as there were people discussing, but my three favorite answers were (1) have at least a short focus on advocacy at every single chapter meeting and educate your captive audience, (2) position your chapter or council as an expert on workplace issues so policy makers will seek out your HR expertise, and (3) invite the legislative staffers for breakfast or to meetings so that they become aware of your HR role in the community.

5. What is the one most important thing that SHRM national could do to help you increase your involvement in government affairs?

There was one resounding answer to this question, and that was that SHRM already has lots of opportunity for chapters to increase their advocacy activity, and that chapters and councils need to reach out more instead of waiting for SHRM to spoon-feed them.

April Preview

Certification is a topic that pops up in almost every SHRMChat, especially those dealing with member benefits, meetings, and conferences.  So in April we will devote the entire SHRMChat hour to the topic of certification. Our chat will be hosted by Ohio SHRM and the long-time SHRMChat advocate Nicole Ochenduski. The questions that will drive our discussion are

  1.  Are you HRCI Certified?  What certifications do you hold and what percentage of your local chapter/state membership are certified?
  2. How do you most frequently receive your recertification credits?
  3. What percentage of your local chapter meetings are approved for credit?  Of those approved, do you pay for speakers that are accredited?
  4. How do you promote certification within your chapter/state council?
  5. What one improvement/suggestion would you give HRCI and SHRM for their certification efforts?

 Join us on Tuesday, April 8 at 8 pm Eastern/7 pm Central!

 

 

 

Does HR Have An Identity Crisis?

IdentityCrisis

 

When The Huffington Post recently published a blog by Vala Afshar titled “The Top 100 Most Social Human Resource Experts on Twitter” a small storm erupted about who – and who was not – on that list. But what caught my attention wasn’t the list itself, but the words used to describe some of the people the author included in that list: “organizational development, HR technologies, compensation and benefits, strategic talent development, recruiting, and future of work domain experts.”

In other words, it’s an HR list with a lot of people called something other than HR,  from someone who claims to believe that HR “is one of the most important functions in business.”  So why does he include so many different “areas” of HR? Or are they not areas at all – but different functions that are not really HR but do support it? Because if they are all HR – there’s no need to differentiate, is there?

Think of it this way – if you list the “Top 100 Most Social Dentists on Twitter”, you list dentists – not hygienists, receptionists, insurance billers, or the vendor who sold them their computer programs or polishing equipment. All of those people may be important to and supportive of the dentist and his/her dental practice, but they are not dentists. They have different occupations and titles.

So what is HR? Does it have an identity that we can qualify, or is it whatever hodge-podge of loosely related occupations we want it to be?

Here are a few things that I think make someone an HR pro, without any other label or job description. To be labeled HR, you should have at least one. The more you have, the more weight your HR status would be given.

 

  1. Certification SHRM and its affiliates invest a lot of time and effort into creating standards and tests that make sure  HR pros have at least some actual knowledge of what constitutes HR. Based on my experience with a bar exam and the SPHR exam, I can tell your for a personal certainty that the SPHR exam is hard. If someone took the time to prepare for and pass this exam, they are a pro in my book, regardless of what their actual job is.
  2. Education I’m not a believer in the idea that pros need to have a degree in HR., but I do believe that a college education is necessary. It proves that you have the ability to stay on task and to learn. Using that  lawyerly term again – the kind of degree goes to the weight of your status, not the existence of HR status itself.
  3. Experience – Even if you are not certified or don’t have a degree, you can still be an HR pro if you have done some real HR work for a business that is paying you money to do it. Like fired someone. Or held open enrollment. Maybe counseled and/or trained a manager.  Whatever the experience, it needs to be real experience that HR pros really deal with and learn from (so as to help others). No debates about whether or not HR should be the perfume or body odor police. They often are, so their experience counts. You don’t have to be #TrenchHR now – if you were at one time.

Of course, if you want to be a social HR pro, then your qualifications should be listed or otherwise discoverable through social media. And it doesn’t matter if you are  a pundit, professor, or practitioner, you’ve earned your HR stripes.

Please tell me what you think! What makes someone an HR practitioner, without need for further explanation or title?

What a Tech Guy Said About HR

HR conferences are – or should be – about connecting as well as learning. If you look beyond the person sitting next to you in a session or at the same lunch table, you can find all kinds of people who can give you a different view of things.

During the fall conference season, I had the opportunity to talk to an IT/tech vendor several times when he responded to various issues in the conference venue. I’m not sure if he was hired by the HR group running the conference or by the facility, but it was clear that he had spent a lot of time dealing with the HR community just previous to and during the conference. I won’t tell you which conference, and I’ll just call him Kevin because I don’t want to identify him and possibly get him in trouble. 😉

So I asked him, “What do you think of HR people now that you have worked with them so closely on this conference?”

Do his answers surprise you?

  1.  HR cares only about operations and is unadaptable.  Kevin explained that HR is “all about process”.  HR wants to follow a script, even when it is clear that the script needs to be adjusted or has failed to work in a particular situation.  Thinking strategically and changing things doesn’t happen, even when it is necessary to fix a problem or deal with an unexpected event.
  2. HR doesn’t understand human value or compensate it appropriately. Kevin was stunned by the fact that there were people working during the conference – volunteers – that had paid their full registration fee to attend. “I work a lot of conferences”, he said, “and no one – NO ONE – works at a conference after paying to get in.”
  3.  HR certification is meaningless. It didn’t take long for Kevin to notice that no one was keeping track of attendance and that many people left the sessions long before the end. “How can someone get certification credits for something they left midway through?”

If you follow the online HR chatter even a little bit, you know that many, many HR writers have similar complaints and make similar arguments over and over again.

What no one seems to be able to address, though, is WHY. Why are people still making the same complaints about HR?

Maybe we should ask the IT/Tech department to fix it, because HR isn’t.

July SHRMChat Recap – Conferences

 

Once again we had an interesting and lively chat, this time on the subject of conferences. You can see the preview post here, but I am repeating all of the questions we asked because I am lazy and it makes it easier for me to write. 😉

Q1. Excluding content, what are the 3 most important ingredients for a successful conference?

There were a lot of thoughtful responses to this question. Facilities seemed to be the most frequent answer, if you consider that facilities can include a large number of considerations such as wireless, the physical ability to network, and food provision. Food, in fact, was the subject of many serious tweets about its importance. Also included in the discussion of facilities was a suggestion to include electronic enhancements like charging stations or electronic kiosks. The ability for attendees to get online and stay online was clearly thought to be a priority by the chatters.

Q2. Can there be a successful HR conference without social media? Why or why not?

The consensus answer to this question was “no,” although there was a short discussion of whether that was what the chatters wanted, or what they thought attendees wanted. This question also prompted many tweeters to recognize HR Florida and the recent annual SHRM as models of using social media to engage the attendees as well as promote the events. One of the advantage social media brings, it was noted, is an opportunity to invest in future conferences through pushing and involving the speakers. In fact, there was an entire spin-off discussion about speakers and vendors during this time, with tweeters discussing the need to get speakers and vendors more involved in the overall fabric of the conference.

My favorite tweet regarding this question came from Curtis Midkiff, Social Media guru for SHRM. He stated that when social media is used effectively at a conference, it can thread together all of the components, such as marketing, speakers, attendees, etc., into a cohesive whole.

Q3. Name the top 3 social media practices a conference should use.

Not surprisingly, Twitter showed up on the list of almost everyone who responded to this question. After that, chatters differed in their choices, naming video/You Tube, LinkedIn, blogs, and mobile apps. A social media educational center, such as The Hive at the annual SHRM conference, was also listed as a best practice in several tweets.

Q4. Are HRCI credits a must for a successful conference? If not, how do you attract attendees?

This question did not get much of a response, because everyone just said “yes”, credits are an absolute when it comes to running a SHRM-affiliated conference. There was a brief discussion about HRCI and SHRM stretching their credit requirements in a way that would allow fresher, newer content and programming. (Note: I am trying very hard to find someone from HRCI willing to guest on SHRMChat for a discussion about HRCI credits. Stay tuned.)

Q5. What are the 2 or 3 most important attributes of a successful conference director?

This question prompted a very passionate and lively discussion, as you might expect from HR pros. Some specific attributes that were mentioned:

  • Patience
  • Dedication
  • Insightful
  • Motivator
  • Leadership skills
  • Articulated vision
  • Ingenuity

What most chatters agreed on, though, was that the best conference director had the same attributes as any good manager – the ability to build an awesome team and get out of their way.

Join us for our next SHRMChat on August 14 at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST. Details soon!

(AUTHOR NOTE 07/27/12 – If you are involved in conference planning of any kind, you must check out this blog from Dice.com, outlining what they did at #SHRM12 and how it paid dividends to them as a sponsor. It was mentioned briefly in the discussion of Q2 above.)

 

Do HR Pros Need Initials After Their Name?

What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, maybe nothing, if your point of view is different than mine. In my point of view, though, these people need more initials or letters after their names.

This is the current Executive Board of the Society of Human Resources Professionals (SHRM).  Left to right, they are

  • Hank Jackson, CPA
  • Janet Parker, SPHR
  • G. Ravindran
  • Henry Hart, JD
  • J. Robert Carr
There’s a few letters after some names, but only Janet Parker possesses an HR related certification. Does that seem somehow wrong to you?

It does to me.

Now I will be the first to admit that having PHR, SPHR, GPHR, CEBS, or a similar HR related certification does not guarantee that you have the skills to run a massive organization like SHRM. I have the letters JD and SPHR after my name, and I certainly couldn’t do it. But certification would have guaranteed that these people had the guts and determination to study their ass off and take a special test to show that they possessed at least a basic knowledge of general HR principals. I don’t think that is too much to ask of the leaders of an organization that represents “over 250,000 members in over 140 countries.”

This week I got a call from a man who needed someone to speak at a workshop on an emergency basis when his scheduled speaker landed in the hospital. He wanted someone to speak about “HR and something internet related”, so a couple of people gave him my name. He had no idea if I was a good public speaker, but he had looked me up on Linkedin and knew that I had the letters SPHR after my name, which gave me – and him – all the credibility he needed. I wouldn’t have landed that gig otherwise, even if I was the most knowledgeable and talented public speaker in metro Detroit.

I think we deserve as much from SHRM leadership, don’t you? Or are professional certifications a waste of time and money? Do they tell us anything at all? Let me know in the comments because I value your opinion!

(By the way, if you thought what was wrong with that picture was that it contained only one female in a profession easily dominated by females, I’m with you. But that’s another post. 😉 In the meantime, the song “Initials”.)