To the Social Media Whiz Kids at #SHRM12

dinner with friends at SHRM12

Loved having a quiet dinner with friends to unwind at SHRM. From left: John Nykolaiszyn, Jason Lauritsen, and me

I started to put “bloggers” in the title, but there are so many people from the conference who started using Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for the first time, and I wanted to include those as well. These are my thoughts on where we’ve come, where we’re going, and what everyone needs to do now. Hope you’re inspired!

The SHRM 2012 annual conference is now in the books. As usual, this event consists of few days of frenzied running to sessions, meeting with old friends, making new ones, and generally having an amazing time.

Why I go to any conference

I attend these events on two levels: first and foremost, I’m attending as an HR practitioner. I’m looking for ways I can help our operations team and company be better through smarter people practices. In that role I’m attending sessions, taking notes, and trying to meet people who might have insights in our industry.

On another level, I’m attending as a blogger. I’m trying to gather content, I’m trying to make connections, and I’m trying to find out what my audience is looking for in the way of great content (hint: sessions that are filled/overflowing would be good topics to explore in blog posts).

My hope for the social media community

Whether you’re writing a blog, participating in the fantastic HR-related chats on Twitter, or building a Facebook community, I hope that you take the connections you’ve built to another level. I’m already talking with a few people from the conference about working on some partner projects (Heather at A Leading Solution, for instance).

Why?

Because I want to learn from them. Because I want to be energized by them. Because I want to help both of our audiences be exposed to another person who is on fire for this HR thing. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll make this profession better one person at a time.

We are just like you, only we talk louder

Those of us in the blogging community aren’t any smarter than your average HR professional. We don’t even talk more than the average HR pro. We just do it louder. We channel it through the social tools to help us reach a larger audience.

When people come up to me in awe because they recognize me from my photo or blog, I just smile. I’m just a guy who likes to write and share what he’s doing right (and wrong) so people can learn a little bit. I’m no different from you, and I hope you can tell that when you’re standing there waiting for some brilliant statement to come out of my mouth, and I have nothing to say. :-)

Small victories are still victories

If you looked at the Twitterstream flowing from #SHRM12, you might have seen quite a few tweets about HR professionals visiting SHRM’s Hive area for social media advice/help. SHRM (and Curtis Midkiff, especially) did a great job of pulling in those of us passionate about using social tools in HR and leveraged our strengths and knowledge to be ambassadors for those without social media experience.

We helped set up Twitter accounts, discussed LinkedIn for recruiting purposes, and talked about using HR blogs for professional development. Each person helped was a small victory. Did we reach all 13,000 attendees? No way. But if we reached even 500 people (which isn’t an outrageous number based on the traffic we had each day), then that’s a win in my book.

Keep up the momentum

I had several conversations during the event about how people “like us” have been using social media extensively for the past 3+ years. At times, it seems like the topic is old and stale, because surely “everyone” knows how to use it by now. But then I run into an HR professional at a local SHRM meeting who wants to know what Twitter is or if they should have a corporate LinkedIn page, and I realize yet again that the number of HR professionals using social tools is still relatively small compared to the size of the group overall.

Closing thoughts

On Monday I start back to work. I get back into my routine. And it would be incredibly easy to just keep going like I have been going for the past year. Or I can take the time and make the effort to keep up with the connections I made at SHRM. I can keep the promise I made to keep educating HR professionals and recruiters on the value of social tools. I can work to incorporate the things I learned at the event into what I do at work.

Only time will tell which direction I take, but what I do matters much less than what you do. Well, what’s it going to be? I’m waiting…

#SHRM12-Keys to Corporate Recruiting Leadership

On Monday at SHRM 2012 I was able to attend 5 Keys to Corporate Recruiting Leadership led by John Vlastelica. I’ve been recruiting in this job for nearly a year and a half now, and I really enjoy the hands on part of it; however, I haven’t put much thought into the overall strategy involved. As an HR Generalist, when I hear the siren song of recruiting start up, I usually am working to get it finished as soon as possible and then move onto other “important HR tasks.”

In other words, I sorely needed this session. 

Here are a few of my big takeaways from John’s presentation.

Think bigger than the job

There are three levels to focus on-the organizational level, the departmental level, and the requisition level. It’s easy to get sucked into each position and not consider the big picture. How does this position fit into the mission and goals for the organization? What about for the department/workgroup? What does the ideal candidate look like?

It’s not just an open job requisition.

When you hire someone, you’re not adding them to the team. You’re creating an entirely new team with different dynamics and social norms. Remember that every person you hire is going to change the existing team (some positions more than others); don’t ever lose sight of the importance of a single position.

Don’t solve problems that aren’t problems

John shared a story about a workgroup who was using twelve people to interview engineering candidates. Instead of approaching it as a problem to be solved (“Hey, dummy, stop wasting resources!”), he tried to listen and learn the rationale for the practice. It turned out that higher than average turnover in the department was being mitigated by allowing more of the incumbent workforce to meet and select the person they felt was the best fit for the job.

The reduced turnover more than offset the cost of additional resources allocated to the interviewing process, so what originally seemed like a problem was actually a very smart hiring practice.

There is more great content that I gathered from this session, but this is all I was able to process so far! Look for a sequel coming soon with even more information and ideas on how to rock your recruiting function. Anyone else ever get stuck in a rut and need a kick in the pants to start focusing on what matters in recruiting?

#SHRM12-Twitter Doesn’t Make Managers Better

Yesterday, Jose Berrios of SHRM spent some time talking about diversity, and he mentioned using a Twitter-like tool to let managers give employee feedback in short, 140-character snippets. Many of the audience members agreed that it was a good idea, but I was quick to point out that it isn’t really that easy. My alternative solution:

In response to my comment, someone else came back with a (poor) excuse for why my idea wouldn’t work:

I can’t help but laugh. HR pros need to be forcing managers to manage well, not giving them a free pass to be poor communicators. If they are not talking with their employees, that’s not going to change by offering to let them talk to their employees with a software program in snippets too small to give real, useful feedback.

Let’s fix the problem with managers who don’t take the time to talk with their people. Then we can discuss software tools that help to supplement the feedback process with more frequent, informal pieces here and there. It’s not an either/or answer–both can (and should) be used effectively.

#SHRM12-Quick Hits from Monday Morning

There were a handful of great tweets from people sharing content from the SHRM Annual Conference that I thought were notable this morning (I snagged four out of hundreds, and I hope to expand on these in blog posts soon).

What makes a great place to work?

Create a “picture” of your culture

Bad apples can spoil the bunch

Super simple explanation for engagement

Again, these are just a few of the tidbits I was able to snag this morning. There is so much amazing content being shared that it takes a while to digest it all.

#SHRM12-Stepping It Up From Day One

I arrived in Atlanta just a few short hours ago, and I’ve already seen some great things that tell me this is going to be a fantastic event. My goal in the next few days is to 1) take as many notes as possible so I can go back to work and impact my employer in a big way (as should be the goal for any attending HR professional!) and 2) share as much content from the event as I possibly can with those who are unable to attend. A few things that hit me right away:

  • The SHRM Hive/Smart Bar is a great setup. SHRM put the bloggers and “experts” to work answering attendee questions, helping people get started with Twitter, and generally being a helpful resource for anyone looking for help with social media.
  • I was able to help a young man who was looking for some assistance with WordPress. To be honest, I’m kind of a nerd, so it was great to delve into that a bit and discuss the blogging tool with a friendly audience.
  • The Blogger Lounge (sponsored by Dice) is phenomenal. They definitely went the extra mile to make the area suitable for people who want an area to relax, write, and enjoy the event.
  • The collection of incredibly intelligent people never ceases to amaze me. I’m talking about the bloggers and “guru” types that everyone looks up to. The main difference between them and the average attendee? They are active not only in their job, but in the profession. Just like SHRM works to advance the profession, these HR activists are working around the clock to make human resources better.
  • The SHRM Public Relations team is simply amazing. I have gotten to know Julie and Jenny just a little bit, and they are the sweetest, kindest folks you’ll ever meet.
  • Curtis and Anne-Margaret are the whiz kids behind SHRM’s social media efforts, and it definitely shows. They are bringing social media to the forefront of the HR professionals at the event so they can’t ignore the impact of these tools any longer.
  • I had a chance to sit down with the other HRevolution planners-Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane, an Matt Stollak. Brilliance was shared. Expect an agenda soon with speakers and session details! Funny to think that 3 years ago, the first HRevolution unconference was born because Trish and I couldn’t make it to the SHRM conference that year…

I know this is just a glimpse of the event, and the real sessions haven’t even started yet! I still have to visit the SHRM Volunteer Leader’s Lounge, the SHRM Bookstore, the expo hall (hellooo, vendors!), and attend some exciting events. Look for more great content in the coming days live from SHRM12!

#SHRM12 Sessions On My Agenda

I’ve been looking at the long list of concurrent sessions at SHRM12, and it’s a little bit frustrating. If it was possible, I’d attend more than 75% of the sessions on the list. However, I only have time for 6-8 in the two and a half days I’m there. I’ve narrowed the list down significantly from my initial sweep, and I’m now working to filter further by which ones will have the greatest likely impact on my work once I head back to the office next Thursday morning.

Monday

  • Unique Obligations of Federal Contractors-I work for a government contractor, but I’ve only been here for a few years. I sometimes still get taken by surprise when something new pops up, so I’m hoping this session will help me shore up any missing pieces in our HR strategy.
  • 7 Steps to Bulletproof Documentation-Of all the areas of HR I get to “play” in, employee relations and performance management are by far the toughest. Knowing how to protect myself and my employer is something I can’t pass up. I call these kinds of sessions “litigation insurance for HR pros.” :-)
  • 5 Keys to Corporate Recruiting Leadership-I already handle the recruiting from opening the req to inprocessing the new hire, but I’m always looking for ways to do this better. Also, as we grow we’ll eventually need someone to do more recruiting, and I’m hoping this session will help me to learn how to manage that person well.
  • Real World of FMLA-We’re almost big enough to have to comply with FMLA, and I’m starting to gather information and tips on how not only “do” it, but to do it well.

Tuesday

  • My Company Went Global. What Now?-We’re always growing, and we have recently been looking at some international opportunities. I always thought the global tracks were going to be for someone else, but now I’m starting to realize how important they’ll be if we do expand internationally.
  • Performance Reviews-Not Just for Lawyers-Just one more opportunity to find out how others handle their performance management process and how I can help our managers and employees to use ours to the fullest extent without feeling like it’s a burden on them.
  • Innovate or Perish: Improving HR Processes-Just like the global track above, as we grow it’s becoming more and more critical that our processes allow us to grow without the bumps and bruises that normally go along with a growth spurt. My (amazing) manager talks often about HR being the leader in the organization, not just trying to keep up. This is one more opportunity to lead the way.

Wednesday

  • Successfully Rolling Out Performance Management Software-We’re looking at a performance management solution and our budget is ready for it. Heck, I’m ready for it. So this session is all about tips and ideas for making that transition from paper (blech) to software (yippee!) with the least amount of problems possible.

Anything on my list that you’ll be attending? What’s your “must see” session? 

2012 SHRM Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia

So, are you thinking about going to the 2012 SHRM Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia? Yeah, me, too.

I was able to attend back in 2010 due to the boundless generosity of my friend Eric Winegardner. However, at that time I was working in a 6-person HR department as the low man on the totem pole. Nobody cared what I thought. Nobody wanted to hear my ideas. So when I returned from the event, my enthusiasm and fervor was quickly extinguished.

While I enjoyed the experience, I didn’t get a lot out of the event in the form of takeaways.

If I can attend this year, that’s going to change drastically.

My hopes for the 2012 SHRM Annual Conference

First of all, it’s right next door in Atlanta, Georgia. That alone makes it more appealing! :-)

Seriously, though. I work in a small company. I have some support from the Operations Team, but the main body of HR duties is mine. And while I love it, sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. I realize that I can’t be great at everything. I can’t have all the answers to every benefits, employment law, and recruiting question someone throws at me. And I certainly don’t have time to look into the “nice to haves” like online performance review software, leadership development strategies, and internal culture training. However, learning opportunities like the SHRM conference affords don’t come along every day.

I’m working to see if there’s money in the budget to attend the 2012 SHRM Annual Conference. Even if there isn’t, I’m going to try to make it happen one way or another.

Is anyone else already planning to attend? I’d love to meet you if so!