Leading volunteers is not always an easy job. Unlike employees, they are hard to fire and they may or may not be motivated enough to give their best efforts. But sometimes the magic happens, and you get the best people with the best skills supporting you in a volunteer capacity. That’s what happened last week, and I want to share some of the lessons for the rest of you.

Nikki (left) has been my co-director since the original event in 2013

Nikki (left) has been my co-director since the original event in 2013

Last weekend I participated in an event that has been going for four years now. The Light Up the Night 5k race was held Friday night at 11:59pm to benefit the Carpenter’s Cabinet, a local food pantry supporting those in need. I started the race four years ago with my co-director as a way to get people more active and to partner with a local charity as part of a local outreach effort at church. It is always a great event supporting a worthy cause, and every year the planning team and I pick up new ideas, tips, and strategies to make the race better. This year was no different. Looking back, I actually see some crucial leadership lessons that are worth sharing. Oh, and in case you are wondering, these can work with your employees, too!

Lesson One: Align Strengths to Tasks

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It’s a new year, and many of you SHRM chapters and state councils out there will be looking for content to engage your members this year. I’m yet again volunteering on the board of NASHRM, my local chapter, so this is near and dear to my heart. I’ll be hosting a SHRM Chapter Volunteer Leader Series occasionally as a way to give content ideas (as I am today), offer advice on board leadership, and more. I’m working to republish the free Rock Your Chapter eBook, and these are updates I expect to include in the new version. And now, with no further delay, the content…

Note: I'm hooked on The 100. Great sci fi show, if you're that kind of geek.

Note: I’m hooked on The 100. Great sci fi show, if you’re that kind of geek.

A consistent challenge I have observed for the last six years of working as a volunteer board member is finding good content for our members. The Programs team works hard, but they, like virtually all SHRM volunteers, have full time jobs, families, and other responsibilities. So I wanted to pull together 100 programming ideas to consider in the coming year. One of the great things about SHRM chapters is that you don’t always have to bring in world class speakers (but you can if you have the budget, of course). You can pull in a local subject matter expert to share about things they know and are passionate about, and your members will benefit. Keep that thought in mind as you read through these. If any of them strike you, try to think of people you know that could share on the topic. And these are just starter ideas–take them where you wish!

Also, if you’re a SHRM chapter/council volunteer and have requests for the series (or speaking opportunities), email me.



100 SHRM Chapter Seminar Ideas

  1. No, really, please use the 401k: how to drive engagement in retirement plans
  2. Get outta here: how to prepare your employees to retire
  3. Nuke the paper: how to reduce clutter in your HR processes
  4. You want what?!? The role of influence in HR
  5. Small but mighty: how to run a great (small) HR department
  6. Yours is bigger, but mine is better: how to succeed with a small team
  7. Best practices for establishing efficient, yet lawful, HR processes
  8. Just Hand Over the Handbook and Nobody Gets Hurt: moving from static to active HR
  9. 10 Things I Hate About Your Career Site
  10. 6 tips to “wow” employees with HR communications
  11. How to make succession management a success
  12. Face the Fear: How to Demonstrate Positive HR Practices
  13. 20 small ways to revolutionize your leadership
  14. First, Admit You Have a Problem: How to move to proactive HR
  15. Bite me: how to handle aggressive employee behaviors
  16. Open Up: what level of transparency makes sense for your business?
  17. Way to go, Sherlock–How to investigate the workplace
  18. Branding: What it is and Why you need it
  19. Great HR is Invisible (hat tip to Frank Roche)
  20. Oh no you didn’t–how to mediate employee conflict
  21. Did you see what she’s wearing? How to create a common sense dress guideline
  22. Yours, Mine, Ours: how to integrate after a merger or acquisition
  23. Hello, Sweetheart: how to deal with workplace romance
  24. Why does everyone look like me? How to develop a diverse workforce
  25. 3 key ways to recruit minority candidates
  26. Top 5 laws that apply to recruiting and selection
  27. Avoid the Noid: how to keep bad candidates from getting in the door
  28. Hands off: supervisor training essentials
  29. 4 benefit trends to capitalize on
  30. Oops: 7 ways to ruin your high potentials
  31. In Case of Emergency: how to create crisis plans
  32. The Walking Dead: how to identify and remove disengaged staff
  33. Radio for backup: How to build a team you can depend on
  34. The Lowdown on Leadership Development
  35. 10 things marketing can teach us about smarter HR practices
  36. Say it like you mean it: how to deliver great presentations
  37. A vs B: how to compare and contrast vendor options
  38. How to keep people awake in training (without using coffee)
  39. Email: Corporate Comms or Strategic Engagement Driver?
  40. Whoops! How to handle workplace safety issues
  41. Yo Mama! How to recruit a candidate’s family
  42. Congratulations! Key ways to keep new parents engaged
  43. Sigh. How to make your meetings engaging and powerful
  44. 13 insights you can get from HR metrics
  45. The Next Generation: Moving from metrics to analytics
  46. He Said What? Why you need to train your supervisors
  47. 8 ways to identify high potential employees
  48. 3 methods for cutting HR costs
  49. 12 points to consider in your change management planning
  50. All together now! Developing strong collaboration practices
  51. How to disengage your employees in 5 stupid ways
  52. Flexibility: What it looks like and how it boosts your business
  53. Agility: how an engineering term can help HR
  54. Close the gap: Knitting together employees and leadership
  55. Don’t motivate, inspire (hat tip to Chris Ferdinandi)
  56. Creating a passionate, productive workforce
  57. Show me the money: calculating the value of your talent practices
  58. Back to the Future: HR practices in 2020
  59. What would HR have looked like 300 years ago?
  60. 15 critical HR skills for today’s practitioners
  61. Go Pro: how to become an HR pro in 3 easy steps
  62. 4 (not so easy) ways to make candidates love your brand
  63. You Break It, You Buy It: how to handle careless employees
  64. Ah, ah, achoo! Creating Sick Leave Policies that Work
  65. 4 Employee Perks that Won’t Cost a Dime
  66. Why Voluntary Benefits are the Best Benefits
  67. Get Well Soon! How to drive wellness initiatives
  68. HR as a Conductor of the Organizational Orchestra
  69. School’s Out for Summer! PTO, Vacation, and Employee Leave Best Practices
  70. 3 Reasons You Should Quit Relying on Talent Technology
  71. Once Upon a Time: How storytelling makes your communications better
  72. There’s a Monster In My Closet: dealing with irrational leadership
  73. 4 Things Your Assessment Provider Won’t Tell You
  74. 3 Questions to Ask Your Talent Acquisition Vendor
  75. 6 Ways to Know if An Employee is Lying
  76. Personnel to Human Resources: How to be a strategic business asset
  77. How to manage the email monster and get more done
  78. 3 easy ways to turn managers into leaders
  79. Bert and Ernie: How to leverage friendships for engagement
  80. Cookie Monster: How to drive healthy employee behaviors
  81. Oscar the Grouch: How to manage negative employees
  82. Big Bird: How to demonstrate executive presence
  83. How to reward innovation without breaking the bank
  84. 7 tips for empowering employees
  85. Culture Shock: Preparing expatriates for new assignments
  86. Anylearning: How to encourage employees by offering non-work related training
  87. Intermittent what? How to manage employees on FMLA leave
  88. A Pile of Shift (Workers): Managing a 24-hour workforce
  89. Make my day: How to negotiate like a pro
  90. 5 things HR can learn from finance
  91. How to create a strategic partnership with your CFO
  92. 6 things HR does that drives employees crazy
  93. Anything you can do I can do better: Ensuring gender equality in the workplace
  94. 8 ideas for revolutionizing your HR service, starting today
  95. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: How to prepare employees for greatness
  96. Say Hello to My Little Friend: Weapons at work, how to handle it, and what’s legal
  97. I’ll Be Back: How to deal with boomerang employees
  98. Life is like a box of chocolates: Predicting employee performance before they’re hired
  99. Frankly My Dear, I… Want to know how to handle profanity at work
  100. ET Phone Home: How to communicate based on employee preferences

I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of these. Which ones would you like to hear? Which ones would bore you to tears? :-) Anything you’d add to the list?



SHRM Chapters are local SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) affiliates that live out SHRM’s mission on a local scale. I’ve been serving on the board of NASHRM, my local chapter, since the middle of 2009, and at the end of this year I am stepping down from my position on the board to focus on some other priorities in my life (family, work, etc.).

For those looking to have an impact on their profession on a local level, SHRM chapters provide a great way to jump in, get some volunteer credits, and develop a strong local network for career and professional development opportunities. (If you’re already volunteering with a SHRM chapter, be sure to check out the free SHRM Chapter Leadership guide.)

What to expect Continue reading

This post has some ideas for why you should think about, and maybe even join, a local SHRM chapter… Enjoy!

Wouldn\’t it be nice if there was something to make this HR thing easier to do? Maybe if there was some sort of way to meet other professionals, share ideas, and trade best practice tips, then we all would feel less like we\’re treading water and more like we\’re making a difference. Wait a minute, there is a way to do that, and it\’s your local SHRM chapter!

Now, before I get into the meat of the post, I’d like to say that not all SHRM chapters are great. Some of them just plain suck. And you know what? This post may or may not be for you. If not, check back later. Or read something inspiring. On the other hand, some chapters really do rock, and this post can help you leverage that for your own career. Continue reading