HRevolution-My Dinner with (Uncle) Andre

Is it really evolution if nothing changes?Today’s post is a good one, and it’s even better because I was able to get the fantastic Robin Schooling to share it with all of you! I had the opportunity to meet Robin last weekend, and she was as wonderful in person as she is online. Now have a seat and listen up. She has a lesson for you…

It’s taken me a while to process and think about what I took away from HRevolution.  Other than “The HR Apprentice” session where I was a team captain (thanks Steve Boese) and talked up out of necessity, I primarily sat quietly absorbing content and was the most active-listener I have been in a long time.  I continue to think about (and even dream about – yikes!) conversations and comments and moments.  I had a conversation with my CEO on Monday and told her that it was the best event I ever attended (and my first unConference) but also that I was feeling a bit sad.

Sad?  Yes…because I fear for the ability of our HR family, and by extension our organizations and communities, to evolve.  It’s like the aftermath of hanging out with Uncle Andre at a big family dinner.

When Uncle Andre joins us for a family gathering, there\’s a sense of excitement and energy (and maybe a few battles and arguments).  Most family members agree that Uncle Andre is the forward-thinking, progressive*, hip, with-it, “cool” uncle.  By comparison, the rest of the extended family is fairly complacent, content, and willing to sit back and complain about the world’s state of affairs without doing anything.  And, quite frankly, the rest of the family can sometimes be disturbingly sexist, racist and homophobic.  So when Uncle Andre leaves to return home, I am left with the rest of the family I hang out with every day, and what I know about them comes, sadly, a bit more into focus. (*use of the term ‘progressive\’ is not intended to imply or confer political party affiliation)

Uncle Andre and I spring from the same gene pool and share inherited traits. He and I have, I like to think, started to evolve.  If evolution is a change in inherited traits through successive generations, what will it take for the rest of our family to join us?  Because I\’m not sure our family has the time for WAIT for generations to work through some of these things.   As an HR family, we\’ve inherited a legacy and foundation of what HR is and what HR historically does.  We\’ve also, quite accurately in many cases, been labeled the:

  1. Administrivia Worker,
  2. Policy Police,
  3. Personnel Girl,
  4. Overhead Department,
  5. Gatekeeper, and
  6. Human Remains

So I took a few days to reflect upon my sadness – how could I leave HRevolution so incredibly energized (and I was/am/will continue to be) yet also feeling so lost and alone and bereft?

What left me feeling sad after HRevolution was the realization that when I go to the next HR family dinner back home, I won\’t have Uncle Andre by my side.  Rather, I\’ll have the other family members around the table, the ones I see every day… the ones who can\’t or won\’t evolve.  Is their unwillingness to evolve a conscious choice or a matter of their inherited traits?  Are they fighting evolution – and do they even know they NEED to evolve?

  • Cousin Ashley is an HR Director who has been employed for a long-time with the same company – she\’s quite accustomed to and very comfortable with the status quo, and sees no need to adapt to the changing world beyond her immediate border.
  • Aunt Marie is content performing super-effective HR administrative work (and someone has to, let\’s face it), and while she has a day-to-day impact within her company, she doesn\’t necessarily care about moving the profession, or her organization, forward.
  • And Brother Joseph continues to eat dinner with the same family members, in the same geographic location, and sees no need to worry about trying another  cuisine or having any other dinner conversation than the ones he has always had at the dinner table – with the people who think JUST.LIKE.HIM.

To talk about evolution means discussing adaptations and mutations and natural selection.  Perhaps Uncle Andre and I have adapted or started to adapt; perhaps we are just mutants.  But evolution, for the sustainability of our profession, will NEED to occur.  The mutations that Uncle Andre and I sense within ourselves (like X-Men!) will need to become, and remain, more common in successive generations of our HR family… or HR will cease to exist.

And if HR ceases to exist…. then I will really be sad.

Robin Schooling, SPHR is VPHR for a statewide Louisiana organization.  She has over 20 years of HR management experience in various industries including health care, banking and manufacturing.  Robin is Professional Development Coordinator with the Louisiana SHRM State Council (, a Past President of GBRSHRM ( and serves on the Board of Directors for the ASTD Baton Rouge Chapter (

13 thoughts on “HRevolution-My Dinner with (Uncle) Andre

  1. Chris Frede

    What a great post – thank you Robin (and Ben). I too am still processing my take-aways from HRevolution – and also came back and told my manager this was the best conference (unconference) I have ever attended.

    Thank you for taking time to write and share. Already looking forward to the next HRevolution!

  2. Lisa Rosendahl

    Superb post Robin, I am convinced the HR can evolve and your point about natural selection was brilliant and right on.

    I am in the very same space as you and feel the pull between knowing what is possible and looking around the profession and seeing blah. I am so fortunate to have a great HR staff and when I look to fill positions, good old Cousin Ashley, Aunt Marie and Brother Joseph do not make my cut. In my own way, I am making (naturally) making my selections. More of us doing that with HR will make a difference – one action at a time.

    On another point, the more CEOs, managers and leaders know what they can/should be expecting from HR, the more “incentive” HR pros will have for stepping up their game -or being selected out.

    Let’s keep talking.

  3. Joan Ginsberg

    SUCH a good post, Robin. It perfectly captured the problems of why busting the silo or breaking out of the echo chamber or whatever buzzword you want to use is SO. DAMN. HARD.

    We all need to keep talking, as Lisa says, so we can at least die trying. :)

  4. Steve Boese

    Fantastic post, Robin. Even if I am jealous that you did not choose me to host!

    I think you have done a wonderful job of describing the sense of frustration that many have felt. I love the idea that Lisa mentions of the HR hiring process as a kind of natural selection.

    Thanks for being a good sport and leading the HR Apprentice team, I hope you are enjoying the rare HRevolution coffee mug!

  5. HRMargo

    I’m so grateful you wrote this post Robin. Not only are you one of my favorite people on twitter, you are one of my favorite people in our Industry. You are bright, articulate, and wise. Your insight is so enlightening, and I appreciate your presence in my professional life.


    Margo Rose aka HRMargo

  6. Robin S

    Thanks everyone for reading. And thanks to Ben for allowing me the opportunity to post something. I may still be an upstart after all.

    @ Steve – I drink from my mug each morning at work And you can host my next “guest post”. :-)

  7. Annette Dixon

    Thank you for an interesting post, it is interesting to see that “HR” has and is seen in a similar way around the world. Here in Australia, the same things apply. I agree with Lisa, making natural selections will help change HR, I have mentored HR people to evolve, and they are now spanning out. There is still a long way to go, only this week, a very large company that is national and international, their HR person, chose to go a mediocre path because they were afraid that bringing in someone who had wider experience than themselves would overshadow them – a great opportunity lost for HR and the organisation.

  8. Lois Melbourne

    I think this might be my favorite post this week. I applaud the Uncle Andres of the world. I was blessed enough to meet you and several others from the same mind set of not doing things the way they have been done before. Frankly it won’t work to keep doing things the same way.

    I applaud your desire to stretch the ‘HR family tree’ a bit more into the sunshine so that it can grow!

    Long live Uncle Andre!

  9. Ben Post author

    I really appreciate everyone encouraging Robin (after she encouraged all of us with her superb post!). I hope she picks up her blogging hat more often and graces some of the rest of you with some of her wisdom and experience.

    Love Love LOVE this post!

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  13. Cecil Miller

    I’m hoping to get into HR because I have tried to tell people(management and works)that you have to evolve or grow to keep up with technology and improvements. HR needs to lead by example, not just sit on the phone in an A/Ced office and talk about Safety, 5s , 6 sigma or GMP. HR must evolve if a company is to evolve.

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