The SHRM12 Blogger Challenge

(Most of you know that I will be attending the massive upcoming conference of human resources pros held by the Society for Human Resource Management – SHRM. Most of my posts for the next month will probably be about this conference. Caveat emptor. But you never know, so you may want to keeping peeking in, just in case.)


Jennifer McClure, a marvelous speaker and wonderful person, is presenting a Mega Session at SHRM called “From HR Leader To Business Leader” at 7:00 am on Monday, June 25th at SHRM 12. She’s a great speaker, and you won’t be disappointed if you get up and go listen.

I’m not going to be there, though.

I will be at a legal/compliance session on workplace privacy. And I’m just not awesome enough to be at two different places at the same time.

You see, I asked members of my local SHRM what they would like to learn about if they were at SHRM 12, and legal information was the majority answer. I also offered to let members of my local choose sessions to send me to and blog about, so you will even see me blog about compensation issues somewhere along the line. My agenda as an attendee and blogger is largely being dictated by others.

I think this is how it should be. Like the vast majority of the HR pros out there, I’ve never been to a SHRM national before because the time and cost involved is just too great. So being allowed to attend as a blogger is truly a gift. And what better thing to do with a gift than to pay it forward and give something back that acknowledges how fortunate you really are?

I think other bloggers believe in this as well. Charlie Judy, in a cautionary tale about over-emphasizing vendors, said, ” . . . you should be sharing some of the really juicy morsels likely to come from the sessions and their presenters  . . .” And Dave Ryan, in a post called Social Media Mission Impossible , encouraged SHRM12 bloggers to bust out of the echo chamber. Part of that echo chamber is created by HR bloggers and tweeters attending sessions of everyone else in the chamber.

So my challenge to SHRM 12 bloggers is to do some blogging about sessions or topics that might not be on your personal radar, or aren’t being presented by personal friends, or by other people in the online HR community that we all already know and love.

Think about the HR generalist at the 200 person company in your hometown, who has to deal with boring wage and hour issues whether they want to or not. Help them learn something, because they can’t afford to be in your shoes.

A Special Two-Part June #SHRMChat

This month SHRM hosts its annual mega-conference in Atlanta, June 24-27 (SHRM12). In order to take advantage of the opportunity to have SHRM staffers together in one room to participate in our chat during Atlanta, it has been decided to have two chats around one topic.

Our topic is SHRM – What It Can, Will, and Should Do For Your Chapter or Council.

During our regular 2nd Tuesday chat time on June 12, we will have a preliminary-type chat, without guests. The purpose is to discuss this topic and decide which questions or issues are most important. Then we will use the first discussion to firm up the questions and issues, and live chat from the SHRM conference with the appropriate SHRM staff guests. By doing this in two parts, we have to opportunity to find SHRM members who are best able to address our specific concerns. It also allows people who are not able to be present at one or the other to have the opportunity to participate in the topic.

Here is a general outline of questions for #SHRMChat on Tuesday, June 12, 8 pm EST/7 pm CST:

1. Name a program, service, or initiative that SHRM can do for your state or local. Is it something you have used to your benefit? Is it a service you know they have but haven’t tried yet? What can SHRM do that others may not know about? What do they do best?

2. Maybe it’s not a formal service or program, but have you had experience with SHRM doing something when you asked or sought specific help? Can you provide an example of something that SHRM will do?

3. The relationship between SHRM and its state and local affiliates is critical. Is there a service or program that you have really needed but haven’t been able to get from SHRM? What should they do?

After the June 12 chat, we will announce the time for the live chat from Atlanta, so be sure to stay tuned!

Helping Non-HR Do HR – May #SHRMChat Recap


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.

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!


March SHRMChat Recap: Collaboration = Innovation

Our topic for March was “is it in the interest of SHRM chapters and councils to embrace other HR groups?” The point of this topic was to discuss whether partnerships with these groups- particularly those groups who have emerged with the explosion of new media and offer conferences and other learning opportunities-  limited the ability of SHRM state councils and local chapters to attract members and conference registrants.

The discussion yielded a resounding “yes” for collaboration.

Most of the people chatting felt that SHRM chapters and councils risk stagnation if they fail to embrace  outside groups. While some of the chatters felt that stagnation was the result of a need for new leadership, many felt that collaboration with other groups helped overcome the tunnel vision that many current SHRM leaders possess, and offered the current SHRM leaders new insights, or innovation, into HR-related areas.

When faced with a tweeted concern that having outside groups provide knowledge might keep potential members from joining their local chapter, most of the chat participants claimed that the added value from effective collaboration would prevent an exodus of current members, and attract new ones.

So in the minds of the March chatters, collaboration also yields added value.

With the case for collaboration firmly made, we asked the chatters what groups SHRM states and locals should look to when developing some kind of partnership. One of the most frequently mentioned  partnerships was the Chamber of Commerce.  Not only do Chambers have an interest and need to promote business-related programming, they also help SHRM locals and states reach businesses that have no traditional HR presence.

Beyond that, it was felt that the groups that might be effective partners for SHRM chapters was highly dependent on the specific needs and focus of the chapter.

One of the best examples of SHRM affiliate and outside collaboration was revealed by guest Craig Fisher of Talent Net Live and John Jorgenson, Conference Director at Illinois State Council (and faithful #SHRMChat moderator), who announced that Talent Net Live was kicking off the 2012 Illinois SHRM state conference with a pre-conference session on social recruiting.

I also humbly added my own chapter as an example – in April, Human Resources Association of Greater Detroit (Detroit SHRM) is partnering with the Michigan Diversity Council to present renowned diversity speaker Joe Gerstandt.

So if you belong to a SHRM affiliated state or local chapter, make sure you take any opportunity you can to suggest collaborative partnerships with other HR related groups.

SHRMChat is held on Twitter the second Tuesday of every month from 8 – 9 pm Eastern. Join us for the next chat on April 10th. Details will be announced in an upcoming blog post.


SHRMChat – February Recap and March Theme

Tweet Reach February


Our question for February was: “Which programs or issues do you think are important and appropriate for a future SHRMChat?” That question was posed because it seemed clear that participants in SHRMChat wanted to be able to speak about all things SHRM, not just about social media.

But as we discussed different potential topics, it became clear that our audience preferred that the topics be focused on the state/local chapters, instead of being specifically concerned  with the intersection of national and its affiliates.

It was also suggested that we establish a committee or include more than one moderator – an idea that I was already pursuing and embrace totally. Again the topic of speakers or guests was brought up and it is clear that our participants are committed enough to SHRMChat to start inviting guests.

Finally, the age old issue of breaking the bubble was discussed, thanks to China Gorman who tweeted about “seeing the same old faces”. This discussion led to the suggestion that everyone who participates in SHRMChat should try to recruit one new participant each month. It was a great suggestion and I hope everyone tries to expand the group.


You suggested, I listened. Going forward, we now have 3 additional SHRMChat moderators: John Jorgensen, Dave Ryan, and Nicole Och. We will be working behind the scenes to create topics and obtain speakers, etc., so be sure to reach out to one of them, or me, if you want to suggest something. Also, after this month, I will be separating the recap and upcoming chats into two different posts.

For the March chat, our topic will be “the interaction of SHRM chapters with other HR or business related groups.” Social media has brought an explosion of these groups to the web,  especially groups that provide knowledge and education, like, HRevolution, and Talent Net Live. There are also more traditional alliances of SHRM chapters and other groups, such as Chambers of Commerce. Our questions are:

1. Is it in the interest of SHRM chapters to partner with or embrace other HR related groups? Why? Why not?

2. If SHRM chapters should pursue some kind of alliance, which groups would be best and why?

Join us for SHRMChat Tuesday, March 13th at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST, where our guest will be Craig Fisher of Talent Net Live and #TalentNet chat. REMEMBER TO TRY TO BRING AT LEAST ONE NEW TWEEP!



SHRM Chat – January 2012


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!


SHRM Chat December – The Recap


As I mentioned in my last blog, I wanted to step back a little for the December SHRM Twitter Chat (our second) and start over. So, as announced, we began with a discussion of format, and which Twitter chat format would best facilitate communication among the participants.

Some people didn’t have any opinion at all, but those that did felt that the best format was the predetermined theme or subject, with 2-4 related questions. This was the same format I tried in the first (November) chat, but I am willing to give it another try. Hopefully, as people get used to the chat and the format, it will be comfortable for everyone.

Because it was suggested that we have a SHRM staff member present to answer questions, the discussion moved into one of SHRM and their social media efforts and assistance in general. Thank goodness that Curtis Midkiff,  SHRM Director of Social Engagement, was present at the chat and helped facilitate this portion of the discussion. He has been an invaluable part of SHRM Chat and will obviously continue to be.

The major points from this part of the chat were

  1. We all (volunteer leaders and SHRM staff) need to collaborate on collecting best practices to share with SHRM and chapters/councils that are social media newbies.
  2. Many volunteer leaders are highly resistant to social media and we need to get them more involved in activities (such as SHRM Chat).
  3. Making social media use a SHAPE requirement instead of an option would help increase social media use.
  4. SHRM field leaders need to be more proficient in social media if they are going to encourage and help their regions.
  5. SHRM needs to teach State councils the technical aspects of conference sharing such as live stream, and they need to be taught and understand why those sharing strategies would be a source of revenue and engagement.
Curtis did state that there was a SHRM social media guide in the works for 2012, which would be a mix of “how-to” and strategy for chapters looking to adopt social media.

One of the best comments on the whole subject of SHRM and social media came at the end of the discussion from John Jorgenson of ILSHRM: “We Know Next” needs to be more than a slogan.” Social media is clearly part of “the Next”, but SHRM seems to be behind when it comes to the knowing. It was agreed by all that Curtis is doing a great job, but he needs help. Let’s give it to him.

Please join us on January 10, 2012 at 8pm Eastern/7pm Central (same time the second Tuesday of every month) for our next SHRM Chat (Twitter hashtag #SHRMChat).

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”.)

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.