From #SHRM13 – Quit Judging, Start Loving

 

“To love a man enough to help him, you have to forfeit the warm, self-righteous glow that comes from judging.” – Ron Hall

 

When there are 15,000 paid attendees at a conference, as there were at SHRM13, there are going to be a lot of times when the swarm is all moving in basically the same direction – up or down, right or left. You hear a lot of people say, “mooooo,” because they feel like driven cattle.

 

You also hear and read a lot of tips from people about so-called courtesies they can extend to help keep the crowd moving along at a brisk pace. One of these tips –  I heard it repeatedly at last year’s conference in Atlanta – was to walk up and down the escalators, much like people walk on moving walkways in an airport. This gets people up and down faster, and helps prevent the lines that form in front of escalators, according to the tipsters.

 

At last years conference, though, I was about 8 weeks away from a bilateral total knee replacement, and there was NO WAY I could walk up and down those escalators.  I could barely get up and down out of a chair. So I endured some of the heavy sighs and under-the-breath grumbling I heard, even though it hurt to hear them. I was physically unable to do anything else. But I wondered, and wonder still, if people would have been so quick to judge if they had known my circumstances. Would they have been more compassionate, more loving and forgiving?

 

This year I could almost run up and down those escalators, thanks to my knee surgery. But I had a different problem that reared its ugly head – several times – during SHRM13.

 

The worst time was on Monday night, when a gentleman approached me and said, “Hello, Joan!” I stared at him with a panicked look on my face because I could not remember his name, even though I have interviewed him before and have looked at his picture online several times. I could see the look of surprise, and then disgust, on his face before he finally told me his name. It was clear that he was unhappy. But I have a reason why I forget people’s names, or, sometimes call people by the wrong name. Even people I know well. And it’s not snobbery, or smugness, or inattention, or lack of caring, although people clearly judge me so.

 

I forget or mistake names because almost 15 years ago I had a stroke. It was a mild stroke, and I was fortunate not to lose any mobility or have any permanent speech impairment, although if you stick a pin in the left side of my face I won’t feel it. But that stroke left me with almost no capacity to remember people’s names. I once called my daughter by my dog’s name.

 

My daughter knows my problem and laughed it off, but my professional connection at SHRM13 gave me a withering look of negative judgment. Would he have been more compassionate if he knew of the impaired part of my brain damaged by stroke?

 

But nothing was stopping him from reacting compassionately. Nothing stopped him from saying, “My name is _____” with a smile instead of a look of hurtful disgust. Just like nothing was stopping the people on the escalator from smiling and standing still, even if the crowds weren’t moving as fast as they would like. Their patience would have been appreciated by the person in front of them whose escalator ride was a momentary respite from extraordinary pain.

 

We all know that some behaviors are simply rude or boorish, deserving of negative judgment. But I bet if you analyze it, a lot of your judgments about others are just a way to get a “warm, self-righteous glow” for yourself, without any thought of others.

 

Maybe we can all try to find that glow in love, understanding, and compassion for individual circumstances instead of judging.

 


Most Job Descriptions Suck

An actual job description template found on the web

 

Last month a young woman named Cathryn Sloane posted a blog in the NextGen Journal titled “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25”. In this piece the author argued that because the youngest adults grew up with social media, it became part of their fabric in a way no other group could claim, which entitled that group to suspend more mundane requirements like work experience in order to be successful in that particular job.

As you might suspect, there was a huge backlash of comments about the arrogance, absurdity and ageism of the premise that only people under 25 could possibly be effective social media managers. The outcry was so great that the very next day the founder of NextGen Journal posted his own response, which continued to draw negative comments (“just as entitled as the original post”).  Finally, NextGen posted a rebuttal from an outsider that somewhat summarized why the oldsters were so upset with both posts.

But what all of these posts and counter-posts and comments seemed to miss was that Cathryn Sloane had a valid point. Yes, her youth, inexperience and poor communication skills made her miss that point entirely – but so, it seems, did all of the other writers. This is the point:

Job descriptions and requirements for social media managers suck.

HR writes countless job descriptions based on outdated templates that keep getting used over and over again, despite the fact that those templates are not based on any proven correlation between the stated requirement and the actual skills needed. Instead, you see advertisements that require things like this, an actual social media job posting on LinkedIn:

  • BS/BA: Marketing, Advertising, Communications
  • 3-5+ years Social Media experience
  • 3+ years Ad Agency Experience
  • Proficient in social media monitoring and analyitcal software/resources

Who cares if you have a BA in advertising? Your advertising degree could be 20 years old and irrelevant. Ad agency experience? What for? There are tons and tons of people on the net having extraordinary conversations via social media that have never set foot inside of an ad agency.  Instead, HR pros should create job requirements that really address what people need in order to be successful community managers:

  • Exceptional communication skills
  • A dynamic personality
  • Large amounts of creativity
  • Empathy, reason, intelligence

These may vary a bit from job to job or by brand, but the point is the same: successful social media management has a lot to do with personality and intelligent expression, and almost nothing to do with degrees and professional experience. And it certainly has nothing to do with age – a point missed entirely by poor Ms Sloane.

Job posts and ads for social media managers are not the only ones that suck, though.  Tom Brokaw, in his keynote closing address at the recent  massive Society for Human Resources Management conference (#SHRM12), told a story about a military captain returning from 12 years in Afghanistan. He is told by an HR pro that he has “no experience”. He replies to that criticism by listing all of the things he did in Afghanistan that were certainly key competencies for many jobs: he rooted out bad guys, he helped locals create better systems, he learned to live off the land and available resources, and he did it with minimal loss.

He got the job, but the sad truth is that in most HR departments that military captain would not have even landed an interview, because a ridiculous job description with boilerplate language that said nothing about real world skills and competencies would have kept him out the door. Job descriptions or posts would have asked for a college degree, with possible project management certification, a number of years at a Fortune 500 company, and all kinds of statistical proof of his claimed accomplishments.

And that really sucks.

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.)

 

My Last Dance

Most of you know that I used to be a uniformed police officer in suburban Detroit.

During that time, I was no stranger to dancing, partying, and generally having a good time. Once when I was working midnights, I got off work at 7:00 am and went to a neighborhood bar with a group of fellow officers. I didn’t have to work again that night, so I didn’t leave that bar until 2:00 the next morning.

We drank, danced, sang from the stage unaccompanied (pre-karaoke), danced more, and generally had an epic good time. Friends came and went during the course of that 19 hours, but a few of us stayed the entire time and created a local legend.

But when Maren Hogan crooked her finger at me from the dance floor of a bar in Atlanta, on the second night of the annual SHRM conference I recently attended, I shook my head and stayed put on my bar stool. A short time after that, a lovely young woman who had been dancing approached me, leaned down, and gently asked, “are you alright?”

I guess I looked lonely sitting there on that bar stool alone, watching others dance, talking to no one.

I wasn’t lonely at all. I was at a massive HR conference, blogging, connecting, networking, and learning. I went to the bar and had one glass of wine and networked a little, and enjoyed watching others dance. But I didn’t stay long.

I needed to get back to my hotel and blog.

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to party and have a good time in my life, you see, and I have taken advantage of all of them. But blogging, and being a part of the HR Blogger Network,  is a new an exciting opportunity that I want to maximize as long as I am able. I am part of a group of professionals that is smart, insightful, encouraging, and helpful. To be a part of that group, and stay excited and energized, all I have to do is keep writing.

Networking and developing relationships face to face is a great thing, and I love to do that. I did plenty of it at the SHRM conference. That young woman at the bar who asked if I was okay?  We had a nice discussion after I told her I was fine, and now we’re connected on LinkedIn.

I would not have made that connection if I was on the dance floor. It’s hard to make a real connection while you are partying and dancing and yelling at the top of your lungs to be heard over the music. And you certainly can’t review your notes, or think about what you learned that day, or write your blog from there.

So I hope no one feels sorry for me – or thinks I’m snobbish – if I don’t join you on the dance floor, or stand up drinking with you at a crowded bar (I’m getting both knees replaced in early September, and they can’t handle to extra pressure), or if I skip the party all together and run back to my hotel.

I’m not missing a thing, because my computer and I have a brand new dance to do. I’m having a great time at this dance – and it may be my last one. I want to make the most of it.

 

 

 

 

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 

 

 

SHRM 12 ANTI-SWAG

I was truly amazed at the size of the bags being carried off the vendor expo floor at SHRM 12. I was even more amazed at how much stuff attendees had managed to cram into those bags. I am not exaggerating when I say that some of the bags I saw would not come close to fitting into the suitcase I brought, even without anything else in the suitcase. What do attendees really do with all of that stuff?

But I was not so smug as to come home from SHRM empty-handed. Most of what I brought home wasn’t truly swag, though, because the items I stuffed into my already-full suitcase were not Something We All Get. With a couple of exceptions, they were gifts. Many were gifts I got because I was part of a blogger team, and some gifts came from connections I made.

Here’s what was important enough to me to make suitcase space for:

 

1. T-shirts – One is pictured above and was received from Dice.com for being an official SHRM blogger. There is a Twitter bird logo on the back comprised of all of the bloggers Twitter names, which makes it a keeper. The rubber “Connect Rockstar” bracelet came from Dice.com as well. I also got a t-shirt from The Starr Conspiracy, but I wore it as a bathing suit cover-up in Atlanta and it was already in the dirty clothes when I took the picture.

2. Meet-Meme Cards – SHRM was nice enough to provide these for the blog team and I had some left over. I am a huge fan of Meet-Meme cards and I use them as my personal business card, so the extras from SHRM were a nice bonus.

3. Rubber Stamp – Also a gift from The Starr Conspiracy to their bloggers. I can’t tell you what it says because it is a super-secret conspiracy, and it is personal and mysterious. I am going to use it on my Freak Flag, though (see #6).

4. Tiny Tote Bag – This actually is swag. I got it from Baudville because I needed a small tote that fit inside the large tote I had been carrying around. I put it to use immediately, taking just my wallet and phone on multiple runs to Starbucks for tea. I also took – and ate – a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting from their booth, which is really my idea of great swag.

5. Social NOTworking – This book was given to me by author Jody Katz Pritikin, who I interviewed for a future blog about employment lawyers at SHRM 12. I missed her session due to a conflict so she gave me her book to read. It has lots of cool pictures, and she likes social media,  so I will definitely read it.

6. CD – This CD of country music was given to me by another attendee, Carol Ann Timmel. She was not a speaker, sponsor, or vendor. We got into a conversation at the Skillsoft  party, and she brought the CD by the blogger lounge the next day.

7. Freak Flag – Most of this flag is white, with just the Talent Anarchy logo in the corner. I missed the Talent Anarchy presentation due to a conflict, but I am thankful that I have seen them present before because they are amazing. They want people to decorate the flag in their own way and then post pictures. I will definitely do that but I need to go to the store for some colored Sharpies to accent my rubber stamp.

The moral of this story is that attendees should choose wisely when deciding what is really important for them to take and keep. Think about how many natural resources and fossil fuels were used making and transporting things that are probably going to end up in your kitchen junk drawer and just. say. no.

What did you take home from your last conference?

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!