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 



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  Tlnt.com, 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!



You Don’t Have To Pay To Be Inspired

(Friends – some of you know that I am starting a new life chapter. I am in the process of moving to Florida, where I hope to meet and work with a whole new group of HR and social media people. But packing and moving is time consuming, so I am going to apologize for not posting my blog for the next month or so. Bear with me – I’ll be back!)



Some of you may remember that I poked fun at SHRM a while back for booking Michael J. Fox as a keynote speaker. He’s a purely inspirational speaker, and my argument at the time was that there were more pressing issues concerning the field of human resources to be discussed, and that he wasn’t the person we needed to discuss them.

This week, while looking into Transform, the new conference hosted by TLNT, I sadly discovered another reason to argue against the use of  high-end motivational or inspirational speakers: they drive the cost of conference attendance too high for the average HR practitioner to attend.

Now, to be fair to TLNT, I can’t say for sure that their speakers are purely inspirational in content, and maybe they all will have some real world, practical solutions that a practitioner can take back to work and immediately implement.

Okay, the moon is made of cheese.

I know this for sure, though – their 2 day conference cost is a whopping $1200-1600. That’s as high as SHRM’s national conference, with far fewer sessions and speaker choices. They don’t even have Hall & Oates or Keith Urban.

I don’t need to pay a huge sum of money to be inspired. Inspiration is all around me, cost-free. Here are some examples of every day people who have inspired me recently:

  • Jennifer DuRocher – a flyball and Facebook friend who recently lost over 140 pounds. Her incredible story was recently featured on a local news station.
  • Bryan Wempen – as the host of Drive Thru HR he is familiar name to many of you. Bryan (a grandfather!) decided to get fit and start running, so he could participate in a memorial race for a friend. He recently completed his first 1/2 marathon.
  • Branden Ginsberg – yes, he’s related (stepson), but after a long battle with drug addiction and a prison term, he is drug-free, healthy, and has kept his job for over 2 years.

All of these people motivate and inspire me to do better things. I don’t have to pay a cent or pack a suitcase.

What about you? Is there someone in your life that you find inspirational? Leave a comment and share the story. :-)



Customer Service Should Quit Apologizing and Start Fixing



HR people love to write about customer service. I’ve blogged about it before, and so have many others. TLNT blogged just last week about the importance of customer service to the business bottom line, and why ensuring that employees have the proper customer service skills is ultimately the responsibility of HR.

But while HR is quick to discuss how important customer satisfaction is to employee satisfaction, someone else is telling a lot of companies that good customer service means continually and meaninglessly apologizing to the customer.

A couple of weekends ago the power in my house went out for 5 hours during a wind storm in the metro Detroit area. Maybe not exactly a wind storm, because winds were about 16 mph, with gusts up to 40 mph. Call that “medium windy”, at best. It’s not unusual for me to lose  electric power when the weather is windy. Or snowy. Or rainy. Or just about anything, because I lose power all the time.

The next day I received a pre-recorded call from DTE energy. The recorded voice said she “hoped my power was back on”, and apologized for any inconvenience that was caused. Does that mean their company doesn’t even know if they’ve fixed the power, but it’s okay since they apologized?

I don’t even care if they apologize (especially with a pre-recording) for causing me inconvenience, I just want them to fix whatever is causing my power to go out so frequently.

Other companies have the same “tell them you’re sorry and they won’t be unhappy” attitude.

About a month ago I began experiencing difficulties with AT&T U-Verse, after a couple of years of pretty exemplary service. It took several phone calls and 4 different technician visits to finally fix the problem. One of those phone calls took almost an hour, during which time I was placed on hold several times. Each time the customer service rep apologized profusely to me for placing me on hold. Each technician that visited my home was apologetic for the one who came before and for the multiple mistakes that were made. The AT&T employees were exceptionally c0urteous.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think that the multiple apologies from those employees were helpful at all, given the inability of this company to fix a service problem over a month’s time, several phone calls, and several visits to my home. In fact, those apologies are annoying when you have heard them 4, 5, or 6 times without results.

HR, tell your employees to apologize to customers once, and then spend the bulk of their time cheerfully fixing the problem.

Unless your employee sings like Brenda Lee.