July #SHRMChat Preview – Conferences

 

It’s time for another SHRMChat!

For newbies, SHRMChat is a monthly Twitter chat where we discuss issues affecting state and local affiliates of SHRM. There are different issues every month, and I preview and recap every month on my blog.

This month, SHRMChat will be discussing conferences. Many of us attended the recent Annual SHRM Conference & Exposition (SHRM12), where more than 13,000 people gathered to drink in all things HR. I belong to two different local SHRM affiliates, and both have hosted, or are preparing to host, one day conferences. And most state affiliates offer a conference.

So conferences are important to SHRM at every level. Other HR pros think so too, considering the rise of non-SHRM conferences like HRevolution and TLNT.com.

So let’s chat about what  needs to be done  to make an HR conference a success. To help us with this discussion, we will be joined by 3 special guests:

Mike VanDervort@MikeVanDervort – Mike is the social program strategist for HR FLorida, one of the largest state councils and conferences in the country. He also recently attended SHRM12 as an official blogger, and decided that SHRM has a formula for success through social media. Read about it here.

John Jorgenson@jkjhr – John is serving his 2nd year as director of the Illinois State Council conference, and was the State Director of ILSHRM prior to becoming conference director.

Steve Browne@sbrownehr – Steve was the conference director of HR Rocks, the 2011 Ohio State HR conference.

Here are the specific questions we will ask during the chat. The first question will be asked at 8:10 and each successive question will post on the 10’s.

  • Q1. Excluding content, what are the 3 most important ingredients for a successful conference?
  • Q2. Can there be a successful HR conference without social media? Why or why not?
  • Q3. Name the top 3 social media practices a conference should use.
  • Q4. Are HRCI credits a must for a successful conference? If not, how do you attract attendees?
  • Q5. What are the 2 or 3 most important attributes of a successful conference director?
As always, we encourage discussion around the topic even if a specific question isn’t asked.
Chat with us on Twitter, hashtag #SHRMChat, on TUESDAY, JULY 10  at 8 pm EST/7pm CST 

 

 

The Gift of Social Media

A day or so before I was to depart for college, I became violently ill with what I thought was gastroenteritis, (what people commonly call stomach flu). But it cleared up almost immediately after I met my roommate and settled into my dorm room.

It was really stress, you see, from a girl who had almost never been out of her white-bread, suburban Detroit, lower-middle class community. We were poor, and even restaurant dinners and family vacations were totally foreign to me. The idea of being 90 miles away from my mother and family was sufficiently stressful to induce 2 days of vomiting.

After college I returned to the same suburban community where I grew up, beginning my first career as a police officer and maintaining some old friendships and forging  new ones among co-workers and neighbors. I stayed safely snuggled in those six square miles, leaving infrequently and never going very far when I did.

Then I met and married my husband, and he yanked me out of my safety zone to live in his world. That world was only another suburb about a 1/2 hour drive away, but to me it was like moving to another planet. I didn’t know the geography and, before cell phones and computers, immediately lost touch with many people.  I didn’t get physically sick this time, but I was irritable, argumentative, or crying for at least 3 months after moving. More stress.

So I wasn’t really sure what to expect a few weeks ago when I packed up my dogs and car and  began the biggest move of my life: 1,400 miles and almost 24 hours of driving, from Novi, Michigan to Naples, Florida – from the same 30 or so square miles I had lived my entire life to, as my friend Dave Ryan said, ” just north of Cuba.”

This time, though, I didn’t get physically sick. I haven’t screamed, cried, or other wise acted out. I’ve been tired, sure, but peaceful. Calm. Happy. This time, my friends and family have been with me the entire time:

  • Driving across the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, when I thought of Eric Weingardner, Jennifer McClure, Benjamin McCall,  and several others who live there.
  • Hearing “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone on Sirius/XM Sixties radio in Kentucky, which I will forever associate with Steve Browne‘s broad smile and ready hug.
  • Driving by the I-71/Louisville exit and recapturing the HRevolution #1 post-lunch walk with Lisa Rosendahl.
  • Thinking of Mike Krupa when the rakish young man in a Mini Cooper flashed me a bright smile as he passed in northern Tennessee.
  • Watching a family walk their GSD puppy in a Georgia rest area and wondering how Deirdre Honner was.
  • Driving through Atlanta and remembering everyone from HRevolution #3, especially Neil Morrison, James Papiano, Tammy Colson, and Frank Zupan.
  • Hearing Jason Danieley sing “You Walk With Me” from The Full Monty, who is forever associated in my mind with Trish McFarlane.
  • Having several Floridian Facebook friends reassure me that I will get used to, even welcome, having geckos skitter across the kitchen floor.
All of the people I named, plus hundreds of others that space prevented me from naming, are friends with whom I first connected on social media. Others are people with whom the social connection had been lost 20 or 30 years ago but with whom I have reconnected. All of them – every Facebook friend and Twitter follower – make me feel whole. The sense of community and involvement I get from their active participation keeps me from ever feeling lost or alone.

Last week I went to my first Florida HR meeting. I was inevitably asked by a tablemate what I did for a living. I explained a little about me and my social media venture.  One of the people at the table made the standard complaint about social media and “not wanting to read about what people eat for breakfast.”

I don’t mind hearing about your breakfast; I find it endearing. I want to see pictures of your kids and grandkids, too. Tell me about your good days and your bad – I’ll try to be there for both, because the gift of fellowship I get in return is worth it.

Social media changed my life, and it is the greatest gift I have ever received. Thank you.

Have a wonderful holiday season and the best New Year ever.

Hacking Performance Evaluations at HRevolution

Of all the HR conference sessions and workshops I attended this fall (I wrote about couple of them here and here), the one that spoke to me the most loudly was the Talent Anarchy HackLab at HRevolution. As facilitated by Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt (the team that is Talent Anarchy), session participants were asked to hack an existing HR system.

Wait . . . what?

If you are anything like me, you think that hacking into a system means sneaking and subterfuge in order to create some type of chaos or perform an illegality. On a computer. Not so, explained Jason.  He briefly discussed the evolution of the hack, which in its basic form means to take an existing system and stretch it beyond its original bonds to create a better system. As succinctly explained by The Recruiting Animal while I was live tweeting the session:

So TA offered the group an opportunity to choose and hack one of a pre-approved list of HR systems, accepting the presumption that they were all broken. The group was informed that they would discover some hacks or tweaks that they could take back to their jobs and implement immediately. No asking for approval, no developing a budget.

Despite an impassioned plea (which I fully endorsed) by China Gorman  to choose exit interviews (the whole group had to work on the same system), the class voted – by a narrow margin – to tackle performance evaluations.

So 4 groups of 5 people started discussing performance evaluations – what they should be, what they could be. Groups were instructed to break up and reform 3 times, so everyone could hear and use the ideas from all of the previous discussion. I can’t recreate those discussions here, but I can restate what I found amazing about the process and the end result.

At the end of our time, the whole gathering had essentially agreed on what performance evaluations should and could be. In summary, we found that performance evaluations should

  • be a conversation, not a check mark
  • be in the moment or in real time, not on an annual or semi-annual basis
  • involve managers, customers, co-workers, not just an immediate supervisor or manager
  • be owned by the employee, not HR or their boss
Read those statements, and then go do something in your performance evaluation system that stretches it toward those ideals.  Don’t ask – just do.
Hack it.

 

Less HR In HRevolution?

At the end of the recently concluded HRevolution conference unconference  event, Steve Boese asked the audience for their thoughts and insights. Two different people made comments that essentially said that they wished there had been less HR content. One person asked for other disciplines (such as marketing) to be represented, and one asked for more tech-related content.

Those comments peeved me a little bit, perhaps because these comments came not long after I read this tweet from an attendee:

 

 

 

 

 

The thing that bothered me the most about this tweet is the assertion that the term “engage” is somehow an HR word that no one else uses.  Apparently the tweeter has never read The Unmarketing Blog (“Stop Marketing. Start Engaging”), or the Brian Solis book Engage!, or heard of the digital technology event “Engage!”

The verb engage has several different definitions, but HR pros, marketers, and others use to word to mean an emotional, interactive experience between people. Thesaurus.com lists the terms “involve” and “engross” as synonyms for this particular meaning, but nowhere does thesaurus.com list the word “participate” as a synonym for engage.

This is obviously because HR pros know that there is a vast difference between an employee who “participates” and one who is “engaged”.  While I understand that buzzwords (or buzz-phrases, like “seat at the table”) are overused, and have myself written against using jargon, sometimes the reason a particular word achieves buzzword status is because it is the only word that definitionally fits the situation.

She may be right about people/talent,  although it seems to me that both are used pretty frequently by HR pros, making “talent” less of a buzzword and more an alternative.

Right after I left HRevolution I attended a workshop in Phoenix, where I spoke on using social media to communicate employee benefits. The terms SPD, SBC, wellness, and compliance were thrown around the room with aplomb. No one complained that the people in the workshop should use words that people outside of HR (or benefits administration) do. No one tweeted that attendees should say, “can’t understand this paper, not  SPD”, or “don’t  get sued, not compliance”.

If you don’t want to hear about HR at an HR event, perhaps a marketing, finance, or technology event will better fit your needs. You may hear some buzzwords, though.

 

Blog Comments – When To Delete?

Four months ago I published a post about HRevolution, that most excellent of all HR conference-type events. In case you don’t want to click here to read the post, I will just tell you that in that post I mentioned Sue Marks, CEO of Pinstripe Talent, because her company was nice enough to furnish the attendees with Meet-Meme cards. I didn’t endorse her company or say much of anything except thank you.

So I was a little surprised to receive notification of the following comment just a couple of weeks ago:

 Now, I presume you will agree with me that the comment is not offensive, vulgar, discriminatory,  or any other negative type that we all agree is fair game for deletion. It contains spelling and grammatical errors, but I think we can also agree that poor writing skill is a problem up and down the social web, and certainly not a reason to hit the delete button.

The issue with this comment is that it is really not about the substantive content of the post, but a politely worded political commentary. Not exactly spam, but . . . close. A troll? Not quite.

Since that comment was posted, I have been thinking a lot about the spirit of free speech and whether, in that spirit, I should allow this comment to stay. I was reminded of a case I studied in law school, which discussed whether private property owners of large open-to-the-public shopping malls should be required to allow picketers and other public speech demonstrations. The argument was that these places have supplanted public parks and town squares as gathering places, and that free speech principles should be allowed to follow the public.

In law school I argued vehemently against such a law, believing that business owners can best determine whether allowing demonstrators on their property was in their best financial interest. Now, with this blog comment, I’m not so sure.  Even though I own my blog and can delete any comment I want to – should I? If the social web is the “democratization of communication”, as pundits claim, do I have a social responsibility to honor that democracy by allowing political comments on an HR blog?

What about you? Would you delete this comment if it was your blog? Does it matter if you agree with the comment? I’d love you to tell me your thoughts.

Upcoming Carnival of HR – Seasons

Summer is almost upon us, although it has not felt like it in many parts of the USA. So what do you think about when you encounter a change of season?  Maybe you live somewhere where the season change is minor or difficult to discern.  How does that make you feel?

No matter what your thoughts are about seasons – any season – you will have the chance to make sure we all understand those thoughts in the June 22 Carnival of HR. Yes, that’s the day after summer starts! So write a blog about summer. Or changes. Or seasons of any kind (sports seasons? kid’s soccer season?). Just send me the link to your blog post by June 20th for inclusion in the June 22nd Carnival.

Need musical inspiration? Here’s a link to songs about seasons. That list does not even mention “Seasons In the Sun“, or “Time Of the Season“, which is by The Zombies. Who can’t write an HR blog about zombies?

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
Unexpectedly.
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.

HRevolution 2011 – Rants and Raves

I like to post a blog after attending a conference called Rants and Raves. Here’s an example, in case you didn’t know,or, more likely, you have forgotten because I haven’t posted in so long.

RANTS

HRevolution Polo Shirts – Sure, it was nice of the organizers to give everyone who has been at all three events a white polo shirt with the neat HRevolution logo on the chest. But, folks – come ON! You have known me for over two years now and I am pretty sure you can figure out my proper size.

Stuffed Monsters – Yeah, Eric Weingardner and his Monster.com team had those big stuffed monsters laying all over the place. They didn’t have ONE little one, though. The last time I took home a big stuffed monster I thought someone from the TSA was going to shoot me in the Louisville airport. Besides, my dogs like the little monsters better.

Meet-Meme Trading Cards – Okay, the people at Pinstripe had a great giveaway in those cards, so email or message Sue Marks and thank her, as I did.  BUT – 50 cards for 130 people? Sheesh. We don’t have to remind the world that HR people can’t count.

If you haven’t figured it out, I’ll spell it out – these are ridiculous rants and I was planting my tongue firmly in my cheek while writing them. Truth is, I could not find one legitimate thing to rant about, and I didn’t want to give up my post title.

RAVES

Trish McFarlane – The Queen of HRevolution, Trish acts as the true ringleader of the HRevolution planning crew. She is also directly responsible for getting sponsorships that help this event come to life.  Her work in attracting Monster.com, Pinstripe, Ceridian, Aquire, Inc., SHRM, and PeopleMatter creates a big value for the attendee buck.

Steve Boese – Most people had difficulty deciding which concurrent session to attend, and I was no different. They all sounded wonderful, and they were. Steve was responsible for assembling facilitators and sessions, and he deserves a huge round of applause for making this a learning and giving event like no other.

Crystal Peterson – Great space, nice traffic flow, good food, plentiful snacks and drinks. Crystal deserves the nod for making attendees so comfortable that all of that heavy duty brain power could focus on the discussion and not on discomfort.

Ben Eubanks – Ben kept all of the HRevolution information in your face and up-to-date, so you knew where to discuss an issue on Linkedin, or send your Meet-Meme information. Oh, and he brought his beautiful family with him to HRevolution, so the attendees got to meet Melanie, Bella, and Bree. That’s rave-able by itself.

Special Sponsors – All sponsors are special, really, but I have to single out Eric Weingardner of Monster.com and Lois Melbourne of Aquire.  Eric and Lois have both attended all three HRevolution events, adding their considerable smarts to the discussion. Both represent a corporation that sells product to HR folks, but they have been there to participate and learn, not to sell and shill. They epitomize the best of HRevolution.

Attendees – Caring, warm, intelligent, thoughtful, insightful, enthusiastic, and a little bit naughty. It was my pleasure to spend a couple of days with you.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

HRevolution – Rants and Raves

Mark Stelzner as Donald Trump - sort of

Back in March I did a post following a SHRM conference called Rants and Raves.  Since I have no desire to re-invent the wheel, and I find that the title is the hardest part of my blog to write,  I am going to take the easy way out and offer this  HRevolution version.  This time, though, the rants and raves are not mine – at least not until the end.  These are comments made directly to me by some of the attendees, and not based on anyone’s blog post or tweet.

RANTS

NOT ENOUGH TIME BETWEEN SESSIONS FOR DISCUSSIONS/NETWORKING/CONVERSATIONS – This was by far the most prevalent and consistent comment I received.  People did not want to miss the sessions, but they wanted time to start and continue substantive conversations.  The tweet-ups, with a party-like atmosphere, were good for meeting and greeting, but they wanted quieter time for serious stuff, too.  When asked, people were willing to attend a 2-day session in order to rectify this.

NOT ENOUGH SPACE – Several people thought that Catalyst Ranch, while fun and funky, was not large enough for the attendees to find spots outside of the sessions to talk or even break out into a smaller group.  A related comment was that there were just too many people, making the sessions a little too large for comfortable discussion.

GENERAL SESSION/TRACK GRIPES – Some people wanted more topics lead by working HR practitioners and directly relevant to daily HR functions.  Some wanted fewer sponsor/consultant/non-practitioner speakers and facilitators. While many of the people I spoke with felt some uneasiness with the sessions, they did not articulate their feelings or dissatisfaction as well in this area (unlike the time and space rants).

RAVES

EVENT PLANNING AND LOGISTICS – As a member of the planning committee, it is almost embarrassing to admit that this was the number one rave I received. People were quick to recognize the work involved and seemed happy with the food, tweetups, transportation, information, and cupcakes.

CHICAGO – Even though there are rumblings on Twitter about having a future HRevolution in Hawaii or Las Vegas, many attendees commented to me how perfect the Chicago location was for them from a transportation and travel standpoint.  They liked Chicago and the choices it afforded them.

CONNECTIONS MADE – Many people came specifically for the opportunity and ability to meet others and extend connections with online friends and acquaintances.  While some wished they had been able to do more, many were enthusiastic about the connections they did make.

Now that I have reported on the most frequent rants and raves made by attendees (to me), I am going to indulge myself  just a little and give you a personal rant and rave (just one each!) because I can only shut up for so long. 😉

PERSONAL RANT

There have been a lot of blog posts and tweets about HRevolution.  Some were positive, some were not. Fair enough.  I get the distinct impression, though, that many people made their feelings known only through a blog post or a tweet. No personal contact with, or email or phone call to, a planning committee member – even though contact information for every committee member was given to every participant. Was this you?  It makes me wonder if some people actually listened to some of the messages that were given about the value of connection and communication.  If you have something to say about HRevolution – good or bad – say it on your blog or on Twitter, but say it directly to the people who brought you HRevolution, too.  You can’t have influence and credibility in 140 characters,  so make a meaningful connection and help HRevolution – and yourself – move forward.

PERSONAL RAVE

I was a very small part of a talented and dedicated group of people who helped bring HRevolution to life.  I learned much about effective collaboration and valuable teamwork from this experience, and I have to thank Trish McFarlane, Ben Eubanks, Crystal Peterson, Steve Boese, Mark Stelzner, and Jason Seiden for allowing me to be a part of this team. I am raving about all of them!

IT’S YOUR CHANCE NOW

I chose not to personally comment on the rants and raves of the attendees, because I want to know what YOU think!  Were you there?  Do you agree with anything?  Nothing?  Do you have other experiences that could help make an event like this better for everyone?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

HRevolution – Just Like Christmas

Part of my immediate family

I have a pretty large family by most standards.  Between us, my husband and I have 6 children, each with a spouse or significant other.  We currently have 11 grandchildren – with potentially more to come from the youngest of our kids.   Add nieces, nephews, brother, or ex-wife (yes, we have hosted her – and her husband), and the numbers climb even higher.

So when major holidays – like Christmas – roll around, my house is usually the epicenter of a lot of chaos.  People need to be fed, gifts need to be distributed, pictures need to be taken, spills need to be cleaned, and dishes need to be done. Since I am basically anal, I like them done efficiently, thoroughly, and deliciously.  I like things done, and done right.

But all of that doing means that I don’t get to enjoy sitting still and holding the baby, or laughing over a glass of wine, or playing a board game with the older grandchildren.  I never get to connect with my family during hectic holidays – I am simply too busy trying to make sure everything is perfect for them.  After everyone goes home, I am extraordinarily sad and contented at the same time.  I am always pouting that I didn’t get to really talk to everyone, but so satisfied knowing  that I provided a comfortable home, good food, and a happy memory for my family.  It’s an internal conflict that I never resolve.

At the end of HRevolution, the unconference that was held in Chicago a few days ago and that I was proud and humbled to help organize, I felt exactly the same way. By the time the post-conference party was over and some of us were waiting to eat dinner, I was exhausted, hungry, and depressed.  I was depressed because I knew I had missed out on an opportunity to connect with so many intelligent, wonderful people.  I was too busy, as an organizer, to pay much attention to the individuals, in order to help create a good experience for the whole.

The attendees were highly grateful for the experience and most have thanked the conference planners profusely for their work.  The planners even received a standing O at the end of the conference day – an uplifting and thoughtful gesture. In no way was my depression due to a lack of gratitude, and I was extremely happy to have had a small part in creating the best attendee experience possible.

I went to bed, though, wondering if I would ever do it again.  Just like I do every Christmas. :)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]