This weekend was a whirlwind of activity as HRevolution swept through Saint Louis. It was one of the best yet (I’ve heard from some that this one was the most impressive), and as I head back to work I want to keep a few of the great conversations and topics in mind. Here’s what you missed:

  • Nearly 50 practitioners and leaders in the space got together to crowdsource problems, build stronger networks, and get a new outlook on the future of this great profession. On the drive home my good friend Allen told me that he was pumped up and excited about putting some of the ideas into action.
  • The Morgan Street Brewery Lodge was amazing, and the food was incredible. I’m going to be running off the ten pounds I gained over the weekend. :-)
  • Mary Faulkner got us all talking about whether or not HR is ready for feedback, how we might be perceived in the organization, and how to respond to data showing dismal approval ratings. Most of us would be afraid to ask for feedback internally, but it’s a great way to ensure you’re meeting the needs of internal customers.
  • Franny Oxford and Paul Hebert helped to dig into positive HR, how we can help our organizations be more positive, and how to specifically bring our own happiness into the workplace every day. To be honest I thought the topic was simplistic, but it received more comments from the audience than pretty much every other session.
  • We had a new game during lunch based on the Jimmy Fallon Box of Lies bit. It was pretty darn hilarious and everyone seemed to enjoy the experience. Bottom line: we are terrible at being able to tell if people are lying to us. Or maybe HR people are great liars. Hmmm…
  • Jane Jaxon led a discussion around curating the organizational culture as the company grows. How do you scale some of the high-touch activities and experiences when you triple in size?
  • Tim Gardner brought the big company discussion with his experiences at Kimberly-Clark. It was a great look at how large organizations manage people and a realization for me that even big companies have people issues, just of a different scope and hue.
  • Katrina Collier helped to frame a discussion around increasing candidate engagement in a noisy social atmosphere. I think the corporate recruiters in the audience picked up some helpful tips and hints from the conversation.
  • Finally, Steve Boese led us on a hunt for revolutionary HR technology, and each group had to design its own solution and explore the market need, functionality, etc. Most of us think we could design better stuff than some vendors, but it’s not quite as simple as it sounds!
  • Finally, we had a sizable portion of attendees as first timers. It was great to meet Teresa, Angie, Katrina, Rob, Bernie, and so many other great folks. I love my long-time friends from the HR/recruiting space, but it is always great to expand that circle as well.

Thanks for our great sponsors, attendees, and my fellow planning crew for another great event. Mark your calendar for early June next year, because you don’t want to miss this experience.

We’re closing in on HRevolution 2015 in beautiful Saint Louis, and we are happy to announce the location for this year’s event. We will be at the Morgan Street Brewery Lodge, a stylish setup and an all-around fun place to visit.

morgan street breweryWhy this place?

Well, I’ll have to take you back 2010 to explain. That year we held HRev in Chicago, and we had an amazingly creative location picked out. The entire building seemed geared toward creative thinking, and it has remained a perpetual favorite of HRevolution attendees for years. So we decided to try and one-up that location with this phenomenal find.

But why Saint Louis, of all places? One key reason is because my cofounder, Trish McFarlane, lives there! We have hosted this amazing event at various locations since 2009, and this is the first time we’ve held it in her hometown. We have a great group of long-time HRev fans living in and around the STL area, so we know that it will be a great experience for those looking for a unique HR event.

Thinking about it? On the fence? Wondering if it’s worth your while?

Come. It’s worth the drive. You won’t get a legal update. You will get excited and passionate about HR. If you’re not excited about working in HR and the potential impact you can have, then this probably isn’t the event for you. If you consistently hear “you’re not like any HR/recruiting person I’ve ever met,” then this is what you have been waiting for. Plus we’ve created a first-timer’s discount! Just use “firsttime” when you register and you’ll get 20% off the ticket price.

Previous attendees have told me HRevolution is the single most important event they look forward to all year long. And while other events cost $500-1000+ to attend, HRev is just Why not see if the same is true for you?

This will be a long post and possibly only of interest to those who attended or follow the HRevolution happenings. If you think this will not be interesting or applicable to you, I’d read some before you bail. :-) And this certainly won’t be the last thing I share, either. As with past years, the concepts, ideas, and questions raised at HRevolution have a way of percolating to the surface on a regular basis. Some of what I write might be obviously tied in, but other pieces will not be. I definitely want to make time to further explore some of the sessions I sat in on, from HR Improv and Half Baked HR Ideas to Creativity/Innovation and the Reality-Based Live HR Case Study and more.

Just… Wow

When we get together for HRevolution, it’s a funny paradox. The combined social media following of the room numbers in the hundreds of thousands, and yet we don’t share nearly as much at HRev as we might at other events. Why? Because the engagement and dialogue are just that good. It’s the only explanation I can think of after seeing this phenomenon repeat itself over and over again. We’re more interested in learning, sharing ideas, and hearing the other participants share than we are in kicking out sound bytes via Twitter, Facebook, or insert-the-latest-social-media-tool-here.

So, what do we talk about? Here’s the briefest of snippets:

  • HR is broken.
  • No, it’s not.
  • We need to disrupt it.
  • Things can’t keep going the way they have.
  • Why aren’t other functions broken? Finance doesn’t have these discussions.
  • We are killing the future competitiveness of our workforce by training the creativity out of them.
  • And on and on. Some things funny, some things enlightening, and some things just plain amazing.

Those were a few of the comments that filtered through the event throughout the day, and those were just the ones that I actually heard–I know there were additional conversations going on about similar topics during the event.

When I get to the end of this event each year I have to stop and take a breath. This is not a lecture. This is not a seminar. This is a high energy, participatory event that makes you think. It challenges you to stop thinking “we can’t change that” and start thinking, “What if I stop/start/change that? What would happen?”

And, as usual, I heard this more than once:

This is my favorite event all year.

This event is different. It always has been and always will be. One person I was particularly excited about meeting for the first time is a long time reader of this blog: Kellee Webb. Kellee is an in-the-trenches HR pro, but she doesn’t let that stop her from innovating, growing her knowledge, and taking business challenges head on. It was an honor to meet her, and I hope to meet more of you in the future at this and other events. It is one of the highlights of getting to do this kind of work! It also shows that this isn’t some closed group or clique–this is wide open and available to anyone willing to put in a few hours to make it happen.

One of the other great things about this specific event was having some of my fellow Brandon Hall Group folks in attendance. Madeline Laurano and Rachel Cooke were able to see firsthand the great discussions, networking, and value that comes from a relatively small event like HRevolution. Trish and I have talked about the event’s nuances in the past, but it’s not quite the same as living it!

An observation about HRevolution

Other than people asking me how soon the baby is due (within a few weeks), :-) the second most discussed topic is the return to the HRevolution roots of crowdsourcing the location, the non-conference space, and the small group feel.

One of the ideas that kept fluttering around throughout the event was this: we wanted this fifth anniversary of HRevolution to be special. We wanted it to feel like a homecoming. A reunion. A celebration.

And that it did.

But it also helped me to see how far many of us have come since that first year. Many of us are in more senior roles or have stepped out of HR to run companies, be industry analysts, etc. My conclusion as to why that is the case: people who are drawn to HRevolution are not interested in the status quo. They don’t want to show up to work a year from now doing the same thing they are doing now. We still have plenty of practitioners (I’m still helping out my old company and advising others on an occasional basis just to keep me grounded, so I get a percentage of that at least!), and that makes me very excited about the future of this industry. This definitely bears more analysis, but that will have to wait for another time.

A brief synopsis of HRevolution 2014

Below you will find an incomplete, but hopefully helpful, timeline of tweets, pictures, and other memorable moments from HRevolution 2014. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it follows my journey through the event and I’ve noted some of my observations where appropriate.

Symbolist headquarters = amazing venue

Steve Boese kicking off HRevolution 2014

Franny Oxford doing a live HR case study

Great advice on taking a new role

Bonni says she’s with cool people–I think all attendees deserve that label!

Tim Gardner discussing HR processes and problem solving

Want real results to problems? Come up with deep, solid solutions

Lois Melbourne leading a session on creativity and innovation

Why creativity matters

Small group discussion on creative ways to solve HR problems

Ravi Mikkelsen talking about the use of assessments

Broc Edwards discussing the need for boldness in HR

William Tincup/Matt Stollak forcing some brainstorming with half baked HR ideas

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who sponsored, attended, or observed remotely during the event. We are humbled and appreciative of the support.

Matt, Steve, and Trish–I couldn’t ask for a better team of people to work with. I appreciate each of you greatly, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to work alongside you.

To the rest of you out there that have attended or supported the event in the past, thanks for helping us get to five years (and beyond)!

I am testing out something new this week and have been publishing short, 1-2 minute videos on YouTube daily as a way to get some quick thoughts out there on a variety of topics. I’m rounding up this week’s content here. Let me know what you think about the topics, format, etc.

\Subscribers will need to click through to view the videos below)

HR: it’s not about finding a seat at the table, it’s about finding the food truck

Today we’re looking at how HR isn’t necessarily about finding a “seat at the table,” but it’s more like “finding the food truck.” It’s often a moving target and to be strategically relevant we need to put some effort into the process to make it work.
Credit to Chris Powell, CEO of BlackbookHR for the great quote!

Innovation, HR Conferences, and HRevolution

Talking about how to drive innovation and innovative thinking when the traditional training and conference events are created to help us continue doing things as they have always been done. In addition, events like HRevolution (http://thehrevolution.org) DO create those types of thinking.

Making the workplace better: micro and macro views

How can we make the workplace better? Some people look at a massive innovation across the board, while others seek out how to make one-on-one relationships better and build out from there. Good discussion.

Have something you’d like to see me discuss? Let me know!

This week I saw quite a few people at the HR Technology Conference. And by “quite a few” I really mean bajillions. This thing is huge.

So, naturally, I took a moment to think about how many of those great people I have met as a direct result not only of this blog, but also of the HRevolution event. That was pretty amazing to ponder. And to those of you who mentioned reading the blog, I thank you profusely for that support. I want to know that people are getting value from this platform!

Why I write

I don’t write and share here as a one-way channel to throw my thoughts at you. I often publish insights from others in the space, link out to things I think you should know about, and try to create conversations around critical topics for HR professionals. I’m more interested in that than sitting here and blabbing about how you should run your business/department/whatever.

You’ll notice that I almost always include questions that I fully expect you to answer (even if only to yourself), because that’s where the real value comes from. It’s not just reading one more blog post to check off the to-do for today, but it’s asking yourself questions such as “is this working?” or “how can I look at that problem differently?”

HRevolution’s purpose

The event that Trish and I created five years ago is a direct extension of those same desires to connect people, drive conversations that aren’t happening elsewhere, and create some enthusiasm about what we do (this might not be fun every day, but overall it’s amazing to be a part of this profession!).

As I told a few people this week, we have a few tickets left. We have amazing sponsors (thank you, Mercer, Symbolist, and Small Improvements!) that are helping to make the event happen. If you’ve wondered about HRevolution in the past or if you have some of these same desires as a provider, practitioner, or leader, then this is your chance to take a stand.

Thanks for everything you do to support this endeavor to make HR better, one professional at a time. This is a community effort, and I couldn’t do it without you.

—Ben

The team and I are feverishly working on HRevolution planning, and we’re excited about bringing yet another fantastic event to life this November. Check out some of the details below, and if you still haven’t purchased your ticket, we have a few left. This is a unique event that you won’t soon forget (there’s a good reason we have a significant percent of the population return every year).

Sponsors

We have three phenomenal sponsors helping to deliver this year’s event. We appreciate the support of each and hope you’ll check them out if you are looking for support.

mercer logo

symbolist logo hi res color

 

Small Improvements

Sessions

We are slowly releasing sessions leaders as they are confirmed. This agenda promises to be one of the best yet with session leaders like Franny Oxford and Bill Boorman sharing their insights and facilitating conversations around HR, recruiting, and talent management.

  • Franny Oxford – Reality-Based HR: How to make something from nothing in the face of continued budget constraints.
  • Bill Boorman – Blueprint for Modern Talent Acquisition

Sound like something you might be interested in checking out? Feel free to comment or shoot me an email. I know the event isn’t for everyone, but as I said, there’s a reason we have people who are wild fans. We’d love to see you there and make you a first time HRevolutionary!

Since 2009, HRevolution has been creating unique opportunities for HR professionals, recruiters, consultants, and vendors to come together to discuss and debate the future of HR.

This year we are celebrating our fifth anniversary by taking the event back to its roots. We have crowdsourced the location preferences and are excited to announce the location of our event!

HRevolution 2014 Continue reading