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?
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.)
I wrote my first conference recap post – then called “Rants and Raves” – in March of 2010. This has become my favorite blogging experience of every conference I attend, because it really causes me to think about what is happening around me and whether I love it or hate it – or if I am just momentarily in a mood. This is why I always wait a day or two until conference end. And by focusing on just a few items per section, I can really try to look at the big picture, particularly that part of the picture that is really the responsibility in whole or part of the conference organizer. For example, if I don’t make at least 5 new connections (a magic number proposed by Steve Browne on the Smart Stage), that is my own damn fault.
So with that qualifier . . .
The Smart Stage. If I had known this was going to be one of my “best” while I was actually at the conference, I would have made some effort to find out exactly how long it has existed, instead of trusting my senior memory. I think this was the third year of Smart Stage, and someone will correct me if I am wrong. However long it has existed, it just keeps getting better and better.
For those of you who have never been, the Smart Stage is an open stage in a large common area of the conference, usually near the bookstore, registration, info booth, etc. The speakers talk about relevant topics, but in short intervals of 20-30 minutes. Most of the topics are really fun, and the smaller audiences allow for more interaction. As I mentioned above, Steve Browne gave a talk about how to make personal connections while at the conference, and you can believe that he made some of the people connect right there in the audience. I also watched Jonathan Segal give a talk about Mad Men and HR, which had us singing the Coke “Hilltop” advertisement at the end. (If you aren’t a Mad Men fan, I am not going to try to explain this to you. See below. If you are, no explanation necessary.) Even though I have blogged about Mad Men several times (here, here, and here), I still gained insights into some current business practices compared to the 1960’s world of Mad Men.
It’s topics like these that are perfect for the Smart Stage, and I hope that SHRM continues to find the value in programming that is relevant, informative, and meaningful, which may also be fun, engaging, and a little wacky.
Electronic Delivery. They are not all the way there, but SHRM made another big leap into paperless this year by delivering newsletters and papers via email. Their conference app has been around for a few years now, but even more features made it an even more useful tool. I didn’t stay at a hotel on the SHRM circuit, so I didn’t walk out of my room to find a newspaper on the threshold like I usually do. I am crossing my fingers that SHRM didn’t deliver them at all (I forgot to ask), thanks to electronic delivery. But my inclusion as a “best” comes with a caveat – quit giving attendees paper anything. Force them to become more environmentally friendly and to embrace better business concepts. If you make them use the app and read information electronically, SHRM starts walking the walk. Given the frequent complaint that attendees slow down the flow of people by using their electronics – one woman stopped and started texting right in front of an escalator immediately after a general session – SHRM shouldn’t take any complaints of electronic incompetency too seriously.
There is another benefit of going totally digital – you wouldn’t need to get a sponsor to pay for all of those useless tote bags. I tried to donate my tote on Tuesday and wandered to the registration looking for the donation box (there has been one at other conferences). I couldn’t find it, but there were hundreds and hundreds of bags on tables behind the registration desk. SHRM should be environmentally aware of the cost, in fossil fuels, of those bags to be made and trucked in. Just because someone else paid the bill doesn’t absolve SHRM from responsibility for the destruction caused by their needless presence.
#SHRM15Blogger.The inclusion of this category as a “best” may strike you as unfair, so it probably is on some level. But the bloggers really drive a lot of conversation out into the world at large. Once again, “hashtagSHRMyear” was made a trending topic – no easy feat. And while many people are tweeting, a lot of those tweets are from outsiders seeing the excellent content that the bloggers tend to put up on twitter and repeating it. More exposure for SHRM and the conference is always a good thing. So I would like to personally thank Dice for sponsoring us, and SHRM’s Amy Thompson, Andrew Morton, and Mary Kaylor for doing things in the lounge that were engaging and delightful. Bringing in a caricaturist for everyone to sit for was my favorite perk, and I am told that was Mary’s idea specifically. Sell those things on the convention floor next year as a fundraiser for SHRM Foundation. I had a lot of people ask where mine came from.
Las Vegas As a Venue. It was crowded. Hot. Expensive. And I generally like Las Vegas. But as a SHRM Annual site it sucked. “Hot” means over 100 degrees, every single damn day. I personally didn’t have to walk much outside, but my heart was crying for those people who even had to travel to the hotel next door for a bus. In Vegas, the hotel next door is a long way away. No wonder the cab line was about 100 people long when I left the convention center on Monday. How hot was it standing there waiting?
Expensive in Vegas isn’t about room rates, although that was pretty bad. My personal example is Starbucks. In sunny (and much cooler) Naples, Florida I pay $3.13 every single day for the iced tea that I drink. In Vegas, I paid $5.00. How much were other things marked up there? I’m not sure, but Vegas being what it is, my guess is everything was. A lot. Quit being an elitist organization, SHRM, and embrace everyone who needs you. Lots of pros need you and can’t afford you, and Las Vegas proves that.
Sugar Overdose.Besides experiencing this myself, I had several people specifically mention it to me, which validates it for inclusion here, it in my opinion. And I am not talking about iced tea (which I drink sweetener-free). I am talking about session content.
I have no problem with keynote speakers being cheerleaders – what SHRM calls “motivational.” If the keynoter doesn’t deliver a certain amount of rah-rah, I am apt to get a bit testy. But once the keynoters have left the stage, the sessions should be about real world practitioners giving usable examples that attendees can take back and implement. Cheerleaders are an important part of the game, but they aren’t on the field or court actually playing it. The players – or attendees – need help. That is the level that the session speaker should work at.
I love the concurrent sessions – it’s the most basic reason I go to SHRM Annual. But other than The Smart Stage speakers I have already mentioned, only one of my session leaders actually delivered specific, real world-usable examples of how to achieve the cheerleaders goal. That speaker was Joe Rotella, who was talking about Social Media Concepts. I am sure there were others, but I can’t go to all of the sessions. SHRM’s job should be to make sure that all of the session leaders are less a cheerleader and more a coach.
Lack of Discussion.The Friday before #SHRM15 started, the US Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision that prevented governments from banning gay marriage. Was it too late for SHRM to have a panel discussion around this issue? They claimed it was when I asked a few people. Did they discuss it in 2014? Or 2013? No. But it wasn’t too late in either of those years, so timing was really just an excuse.
I think SHRM needs to get into the education -not advocacy- business about current issues. If they had a panel discussion encompassing several points of view about minimum wage (an issue that affects my industry profoundly), I would have been in the front row with tongue hanging out. Quit telling me why you can’t (something I heard repeatedly), and start finding ways to do. This is the message we should be telling our attendees about everything. Current affairs shouldn’t be different.
“In all my years I have never heard, seen, nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about. Hell yes – I’m for debatin’ anything.” – Peter Stone, writing for the character Stephen Hopkins, delegate to the Continental Congress from Rhode Island, in the musical play 1776.
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.
There was one theme that the tweeters returned to frequently in the busy hour that was the May SHRMChat:
Marketing to and educating businesses without an HR function is a huge opportunity that is generally overlooked by most state and local SHRM affiliates.
Most of the chatters admitted that they have a healthy number of members or function attendees that are small business representatives and not specifically HR pros. Some chatters felt that their program offerings were targeted to generic business issues that would benefit everyone, even if their audience was not HR specific.
But more felt that their SHRM affiliate didn’t do enough to market to small business, and needed to reach out to them more specifically instead of waiting for the business to come to the chapter. Some of the suggestions for increasing non-hr attendance at events and programs were
Direct marketing and announcements to Chambers of Commerce and local business schools
Marketing and reach out efforts through local business press sources
Meeting attendance incentives such as free guest attendance and free student admission
E-books or other publications on basic HR topics for small business
Make sure the Board and volunteer positions includes business pros who are not necessarily HR pros
There was also a robust discussion about the type of programs that would be of interest to small business without an HR function. One of the chatters, Alicia Arenas, a small business strategist, offered some specific suggestions regarding the types of topics or issues that small business wants to address
How to have a performance discussion with employees
How to motivate employees
How to tell when an employee is lying
In short, chapters and councils need to think basic when considering how to attract and educate the business without a dedicated HR pro or consultant.
Finally, the chatters – ever vigilant about how to get their chapters to buy into increased involvement in the non-HR community, discussed how chapters tend to do things that get measured. SHAPE plans that require some type of initiative to reach small business was discussed. One of my favorite comments was that an initiative that focused on educating and engaging the small business community would be “ripe for a Pinnacle Award.”
Although it wasn’t the last discussion of the chat, this probably best sums up the feelings of the May SHRMchat participants:
Small business access to chapter and council initiatives doesn’t have to mean an increase in membership or revenue. Connecting to your community, and improving human resources business function should be the ultimate goal.
Join us for a special two-part June SHRMChat. Our June topic is “SHRM national – what can they, will they, and should they do for the state/local affiliate?” We will be chatting on Tuesday, June 12, at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST to flesh out these issues in preparation for a special live chat from the SHRM conference in Atlanta. The Atlanta date and time will be announced as soon as it is finalized.
The next monthly #SHRMchat – a Twitter chat to discuss using social media with state and local SHRM chapters – will be held on January 10th at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST. Here are the details:
During the November chat, I was impressed with a comment made by Steve Browne of Ohio, which I will paraphrase here: Don’t use social media just as a bulletin board for chapter announcements. Use it to create and engage a community.
I’m still thinking about that message and wondering about the best ways to implement it. Consequently, the theme of the January chat will be PLATFORMS. Let’s discuss Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, and blogs and how to use those platforms to build a community – since we all probably know how to make chapter announcements. Here are some specific questions to drive the discussion:
#1. We all know that the different platforms have their own advantages. Can you identify one specific goal of your social media efforts (example: increase chapter membership) with one platform that works best for that goal?
#2. Which platform has the best time/return ratio? For example, do you find Facebook fast and easy with a high rate of engagement, or is it too cumbersome for the benefits it reaps?
#3. Have you been able to get others in your chapter excited about social media use? Which platform works best for individual member engagement and why?
#4. If you have found a particular chapter to be good at a specific social media site/platform, please share the URL, account name, link etc.
Don’t forget to identify the specific question- Q1 or A1, for example – in your tweet so we can all follow along.
In February, we will move into a general discussion of how to broaden this chat beyond social media and into a discussion of SHRM chapter issues in general. Stay tuned!
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:
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.
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.
I will step up my efforts with SHRM, local and national, to improve the HR community and help increase collaboration among members.
Sounds a little like a scout pledge, doesn’t it?
This was one of the goals I articulated last year for the Creative Chaos Consultant‘s “Put Up Or Shut Up” challenge (more on that challenge coming soon). So, during fall conference season, it was reasonably imperative for me to attend my state SHRM conference. Wasn’t it?
In making my fall conference plans, I discovered that Ohio‘s state SHRM was being held in Sandusky, Ohio, which is actually a tiny bit closer to my home than Grand Rapids, Michigan, site of the Michigan SHRM conference. I could easily and cheaply travel by car to attend either – but attending both was not in my budget or interest. Looking at the sessions offered became the deal maker. Here were two of my actual choices, one from Michigan and one from Ohio:
Employer CONTROL versus USING social media? Should I learn how to help HR grow up and move forward, or listen to tired practitioners cling to archaic and outdated concepts? Michigan’s choices all seemed to encompass the latter. I chose Ohio, and I was treated to informative, innovative, and thoughtful sessions. As Steve Browne, Program Director for the 2010 Ohio Conference said at the beginning of one session, “if you are here just to get re-certification credits, let me ask you one question: WHY?”
I want so much to support my local and state organization, but not at the expense of my personal development. Next year, I’ll be going back to Ohio.
If you had a choice, which SHRM state or local would you choose to invest in?