Tag Archives: Events

donna quinney

How to Attend an HR Conference (and make it worth your while) [Podcast]

One of the greatest compliments I get from you, the listener, is when I have the opportunity to share something highly practical with you that you can use to improve your results in a powerful way. Today’s discussion is one of those.

Think about the last conference you attended. What did you learn?

No, specifically, what did you learn?

Research tells us that within a few days we forget most of what we hear in a single training session, much less a whole conference with a wide range of topics. That’s why today’s episode is focused on how to get the most out of the HR conferences you attend. Over the course of my ten-year career I have attended dozens of conferences, seminars, and events, and I would imagine you also attend a good number of events as well. Let’s get the most out of those, shall we?

I attend a lot of conferences. I meet people. I hear sessions. I meet vendors. It’s part of my world. But what about yours? Chances are you attend a limited number of conferences, seminars, and events as part of your ongoing professional development. How do you make sure you approach these learning opportunities strategically, enabling you to not only solve today’s problems in your business but also to build a network of people that can help you solve tomorrow’s problems as well?

In today’s podcast, I interview a friend (and fellow parent of twins) about how she prepares for events. Donna Quinney is the HR Manager at Ignite in Huntsville, Alabama. In the episode Donna explains how she connects with her manager prior to attending an event to make sure that they get the most out of their investment, what content and topics to prioritize, and more. Whether Donna’s method works for you or not, it’s a great reminder to be thinking about how to get the most from the events you attend to make the best use of these amazing professional development opportunities.

If you’d like to check out an HR conference I’ll be at this year, definitely consider signing up for the SilkRoad Connections User Conference. I will be leading a series of workshops on innovation in HR and helping attendees to solve some of their most pressing challenges across the spectrum from engagement and retention to diversity and talent.

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perspectives ultimate

#UltiConnect 2018: AI Means HR Can Be More Human


perspectives ultimateThis week I spent some time at the Ultimate Connections conference in Las Vegas with the team from Ultimate Software (Twitter stream here). There were tons of product updates and great sessions, but one of the biggest takeaways for me was around AI and what it takes to build a great workplace.

During a recent event I was speaking with someone and she mentioned Ultimate Software. I said I knew the company, and her response shocked me. She said, “I wish I could…” And my brain jumped to the conclusion: “I wish I could get that software.”

However, her response was something else! She said, “I wish I could work there.” That, in a nutshell, embodies what Ultimate is all about. The firm is known within the HR community as a great place to work, has won virtually every award you’ve ever heard of (and probably some you haven’t), and has some pretty astounding Glassdoor reviews. Continue reading

Want to Meet in 2018?

As the year winds down one of the things I’m spending time on is scheduling out my 2018 year. Travel, conferences, speaking, etc. I have several events on the calendar already where I’ll be speaking (such as the HRPA Conference January in Toronto and the HR Conference Cruise in February, and about half a dozen others), but if you’re reading this and enjoy the kinds of things that I share here on the blog and you also have responsibilities for planning events in 2018, I’d love to speak at your conference!

To give you an idea of what I’ve been up to in 2017, here is a sampling of this year’s speaking events (and webinars/virtual events):

  • SHRM chapter workshop: Evidence-Based Change Management Practices that Deliver Results
  • SHRM chapter workshop: Practical Methods for Measuring HR’s Business Value
  • Webinar: Informal Learning Myths and Truths
  • SilkRoad user conference – topics: Talent Mobility Strategy; Diversity and Inclusion; Employee Engagement and Business Results
  • Skillsoft/SumTotal user conference – Employee Engagement and Business Results
  • Achievers user conference – Improving Employee Engagement Outcomes
  • Webinar: Learning Strategy, Measurement, and Content
  • Webinar: Using Talent Mobility for Engagement and Performance
  • Webinar: Performance Management: What High-Performing Firms Do Differently
  • HCI Innovation@Work – Hacking HR Workshop
  • Panel discussion: The Future of Learning
  • Panel discussion: The Next Great HR Technology Company

Bottom line: it’s been a busy year!

I already have a great 2018 planned, including both on-site and virtual presentations. One of my favorite things about working on upstartHR these last 8 years is being able to meet each of you when I’m attending an event, so please ping me if you are going to be somewhere so we can connect!

In addition, if you’re looking for a keynote speaker that knows the trends and insights that matter to your audience, feel free to contact me while I still have some room on the schedule. I’d love to speak at your event.

Notes and Closing Comments from #HRevolution 2015

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.

Keep Fighting – Thoughts from a Nonprofit Conference

keep fighting

Last week I spent several days with leaders at nonprofits from around the world at the LINGOS Global Learning Forum. It was a humbling experience, and I had some of my preconceived notions turned upside down.

In the past I would have imagined (based on my own experiences working in and with nonprofit organizations) that many nonprofits and NGOs are backward at worst and behind the times at best due to limited resources. That may be the case for some, but certainly not for the ones I talked with in Little Rock, Arkansas. There were groups focused on feeding the hungry, teaching people out of poverty, educating women and children in third world countries, providing clean water in Africa, and dozens of other amazing examples of world-changing ideals. What truly surprised me was the level of sophistication of the attendee population.

There were discussions on leading-edge technology, best practices for training and development, and global strategy implementations to reach millions of people. That doesn’t sound like the slate of topics for a group that is whining about how to get a “seat at the table.”

But how? Aren’t they dealing with tough budgets and limited resources? Yes, but because they know they have limits, they use it as fuel for innovation and creative thinking instead of a convenient excuse.

Honestly, I’m not here to beat you up. I’m guilty of using those same excuses. I don’t have time. I don’t have the budget. I don’t have… whatever. But when it comes down to it, there’s usually a way to get it done.

If they can face those same challenges and still feed a family in Peru, then those of us in the private sector need to toughen up just a bit. And remember when you’re supporting charitable organizations that they employ people like us to help them run smoothly and effectively.

Just a few thoughts to start your week of on the right tone.

What charitable organizations do you support? Why?

I Spent Last Week in Florida, And…

I spent last week at the Brandon Hall Group Excellence Conference, and it was an incredible event. Yes, I’d say that even if I wasn’t working for Brandon Hall Group. :-) I wanted to take time today to share a brief summary so you can get a sense of what was discussed, since most of you couldn’t be there.

I wrote about several sessions from the conference, and you can find notes and links to the full articles below. I’ll be sharing more over the next week–I’m still processing the conversations, sessions, and comments and trying to make sense of it all in the midst of getting over sleep deprivation. :-)

Talent is a Business Area, Not an HR Area

The first session I sat in on was the integrated talent management workshop. Attendees learned how to build a talent management strategy and some of the key pieces to include based on our research. For example, the top two talent concerns for businesses today:

Sustaining employee engagement (30%)
Developing high potential leaders and succession management (27%)

Read moreTalent Management is a Business Function

Developing Leaders Requires Effort

My favorite session on day two was a leadership development panel. I liked it because it wasn’t focused on selling me the idea of leadership development–it instead helped to offer insights into how to actually do it. As a practitioner I always had these kinds of questions:

  • What does leadership development look like?
  • How do we measure it?
  • How do we know if it’s working?
  • What should a program include?

Read more: Leadership Development Panel Insights

Getting Your Hands Dirty Unconference Session

The last session of the event, and one that I co-led with Trish McFarlane, was an unconference session. It worked out well because we had a group large enough to spur some great discussion but small enough to give each person an opportunity to share their input. We discussed learning challenges, talent issues, and more. I hope to write a full follow up post just to that session in the next week or two, because I want to highlight the unconference format and how you can use it in your daily work (hint: not your average boring meeting).

One of the Best Things, As Usual

One of the best parts of the event was the level of personal connection with attendees, sponsors, etc. I always love coming away from these events with new friends, and this was certainly no different. I also ran across an idea or two for some new research I hope to carry out in the coming year, and that has me excited as well.

The Evolution of HRevolution

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)!