The first time I tweeted

Hot off the heels of #SHRM18 and I have to share that I’ve been quite sappy about it!

sappy

First reason being because Chicago is where it all started for me. #SHRM13 was the first time I was invited to be a part of the bloggers team and I was absolutely overwhelmed with the experience. I was introduced to so many wonderful, intelligent HR professionals from different industries and backgrounds, heard speakers that I probably never would have heard otherwise, went to Chicago for the first time, played a pretty fun kickball game with complete strangers for a good cause, went to a party where DJ Jazzy Jeff was the entertainment and saw firsthand how important it is for #HR professionals to have other #HR people in their circle. I was welcomed into a group of people who were trying to do good HR and help others do the same. The other reason being how twitter changed everything for my professional development and career path. Seriously.

kickball2013

The first time I tweeted was at an Alabama SHRM State conference back in 2012. The conference organizers had set up two screens in the main session room that would scroll through tweets of people using their hashtag in real-time. I sat close to the front and kept seeing the same few tweets over and over from two, maybe three people ( I have determined two were April Dowling and Pam Werstler). I was uncomfortable, I was slightly embarrassed for the conference organizers (I had empathy for conference organizers far before I ever helped organize a conference) and decided to pull my phone out and create a twitter so I could start tweeting about the session. It didn’t help much, but I was doing my part to throw some variety on the tweet screen set-up. My plan was to delete my twitter after the conference, but I didn’t. I’m so glad I didn’t.

Fast forward to today and I’m connected to thousands of #HR professionals across the globe via twitter. I interact with hundreds of them regularly, call some of them my friends, and have used them as resources when I need fresh perspectives on a challenge or some expert guidance. I’ve been inspired by #HR pros on twitter, I’ve been furious because of some of the content from #HR pros, I’ve been a voice in the conversation for our profession thanks to twitter, and I’ve listened to other voices of our profession, also thanks to twitter. I’ve found mentors through this social media tool, role models, people who are smarter than me, people who also make mistakes, people who are better writers than me, people who have experienced things I have not, people who love me, and some people who don’t. I find updates in the legal realm of HR via twitter, I get to see takeaways from events and conferences in real-time via twitter, I see people helping others solve their challenges through twitter, and one time I met Boyd Tinsley because of twitter. He’s a hugger, as you can see below. Good things happen on twitter.

 

Good things happen on twitter if you let them. All things that can be used for good can also be used for bad (or even evil). In my experience the good outweighs the bad. If you are still hesitant to get on twitter, try it for 30 days. If you are afraid that your employees will see what you are tweeting, make your account private. If you go the route of private you can control who follows you, but I recommend putting HR in your bio so other HR pros can tell they should follow you back when you follow them. You can also practice “what if my boss reads this” or “what if employees read this” and screen your own tweets. Believe it or not, there are some things I want to tweet that I actually never hit send on. If you are afraid of being yourself out there and feel the need to make an anonymous account that works for some people, but I think you’ll have a hard time building real relationships that route and you are really missing out if you can’t build real relationships.

All this to say that really I’ve experienced so much because of my first tweet. I really believe that if it weren’t for the opportunity to connect and build relationships via twitter, my career would’ve stalled out years ago. I would’ve learned far less than I have and had a much smaller network of HR friends and colleagues to cheer me on and challenge me to be better. I’ve had opportunities to speak to groups, write for other companies, travel to new cities, etc. and all of that can be traced back to my first tweet!

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HR and No Kid Hungry

This year our #SHRM14 blogger crew is looking to “Strike Out Hunger” and we need your help! You may recall that last year we had a super fun game of kickball for our fundraiser (no doubt I’m still bitter that the green team got shafted), but this year we are taking to the lanes for a fundraiser Big Lebowski style. You may be asking what that means to you? Two things- 1) you can join us and 2)you can donate from wherever you’re reading this. There is limited space and the event is this Sunday (I know, I’m sooo last-minute), but consider helping out this worthy cause!

SHRM14fundraiser

Why No Kid Hungry?

This year, more than 16 million children in America will face hunger. That’s one in five. Share our Strength is working to connect hungry kids with the food they need to grow and thrive. We’re doing our part to connect kids to the healthy food they need every day.  Every dollar we raise will make a huge impact for kids. In fact, just $1 can help connect a child with 10 meals.

That’s huge! Please be a part of this with us. I cannot even begin to tell you the impact you will have on these children!

Who sponsors this event?

The event is sponsored by Dovetail Software and Dice.com.  They have not only helped with providing the event but are also kicking in some sweet items for our silent auction.  We are honored and appreciative to have them on our side once again!  Last year we topped $11,000 in donations.  We’d like to see that number go up!

We can only top that number if you get involved and donate! Invite your friends to donate, we know you have a lot of friends! This event is going to be a lot of fun, and you have some control over how fun it can get. Dwane has promised this to anyone who wants to accept:

And since our love for sport and helping others is nearly matched by our love for playing dress up, we are taking the inspiration for the theme from one of the greatest bowling movies ever, The Big Lebowski.  And since it is a costume party, and we have little to no shame when it comes to NKH, for any donations over $500 we will re-enact a scene of your choosing from the film, and post it online for the world to see.  

There you have it folks, now are you going to get involved? Click here to donate to our team!

You can see the original post (without my snarky remarks) at Dwanes blog!

 

When the Union strikes…

One of my favorite sessions from #SHRM13 was “A Portrait of a Modern Labor Dispute”. There are sooooo many reasons why I enjoyed this presentation. Some matter and some don’t.

1) Hope is adorable. She’s just fun to be around and she’s so sweet.

2) I feel like we have a bond through a previous employer of mine.

3) Unions fascinate me.

4) They were honest.

5) They didn’t back down.

6) Cliff has a snarky sense of humor that I happen to enjoy.

The story they shared with us was the violent labor dispute between EGT and ILWU. EGT opened a facility in an area that the ILWU claimed fell in their territory and EGT chose to not staff their facility with ILWU workers and things got ugly. What they showed us was real footage. It’s the stuff the union reps don’t share with your employees when they are trying to infiltrate your organizations. I can remember a few years back at an AL State SHRM conference the speakers that closed the conference were two former union guys that shared their secrets with a room full of HR pros on how they would turn facilities. The stuff they shared with us was mind-blowing! Black mailing executives, threatening managers, harrassing employees, some real dirty stuff. And this specific example between EGT and ILWU is a prime example of how manipulative and ill-natured the union can be when they strike.

Here in AL we are a “right to work state” so I have stumbled upon plenty of HR pros that think their facilities won’t go union because of that. My own digging has turned up quite the opposite information. We happen to have a large presence of union reps going after plenty of facilities in AL, specifically in south AL where we have more automotive facilities. They are persistent, they are hardcore, they do not give up. So, how will you handle that?

Here’s the deal, we all hope that our facilities won’t go union, but what would you do if it did? What would you do if it did go union and your facility had to deal with union protests? How would you handle a stack of grievances every week? How will you handle the unions intimidation tactics? How are you preventing this from happening? Unions are not just a manufacturing facility problem either, if you think that you are living under a rock in a nice cozy HR office with no windows or doors. As a disclaimer let me just add that not all unions are nasty and untrustworthy and neither are all union employees. A lot of times employees join a union because they don’t know any better or maybe because their dad did and his dad did and so on. But, the word “union” typically paralyzes an HR professional. There are so many things that we want to say to our employees that we are prohibited from saying so we freeze up and chase our tails waiting for the whole thing to play out. That is not okay.

What Hope and Cliff of Thompson Coburn LLC did was fight for their client. They didn’t negotiate some kind of deal and tell their client to abide by the ILWU’s wishes. They pushed for what was right, when no one was on their side. Even when local law enforcement chose to stay out of it, they continued to push for what was right. I think that’s outstanding and we don’t see that enough from companies & attorneys. We don’t see companies willing to battle something out until the end because they are afraid of negative headlines. I believe that organizations should fight when they haven’t done anything wrong and these attorneys felt that way about this particular case. They did a wonderful job presenting to the group! These are people you want in your corner when you’re in a fight like this, no doubt.

It starts with you though, yeah HR professional, I’m talking to you. Make sure your organization is taking care of its people. And I don’t mean go put tequila shots in the break room and a slide from the 4th floor to the basement. I mean listen to your people, talk to your people, grow your people, give them opportunity, pay them fair, give them fair benefits, be honest with your people, connect with your people. Don’t guess what they want either, seriously, go have conversations with your people.

Heather, Hope and myself at #SHRM13
Heather, Hope and myself at #SHRM13

Do you have any union experiences to share? As previously mentioned, I’m completely fascinated by unions so please do share!

Preparing for #SHRM14

Lessons learned from #SHRM13

No need for any t-shirts in your bag, you can pick plenty of those puppies up at vendor booths at the conference, but my favorite conference swag is books, the rest of that stuff is probably not necessary. I intend to leave room in my suitcase for books and that’s it.

Come a day before conference starts. It’s easy to check in and get out the day before conference starts. Checking in the day of will mean lines, long lines! Coming the day before also allows you to take time to get the lay of the land. Also check into public transit. C’mon people, don’t take a cab everywhere!

Wear comfortable shoes. Nothing says newbie like stylish uncomfortable shoes. Don’t be foolish. We all know we are doing a lot of walking so don’t think twice about pairing some comfy tennis shoes with your trendy office attire. And really, dress how you feel comfortable. There is no dress code and you’ll see everything from professional dress to jeans and t-shirts.

Take a water bottle with you. There was several water stations set up through the conference location, but small cups. It wouldn’t hurt to take a bottle with you (or buy one in the SHRM store) so you can easily tote water around with you.

Bring your charger to the conference. There will be charging stations.

Get your Twitter thumbs ready! #SHRM13 made it to a trending topic on Twitter this year so we hope to do it again in 2014! *If you do not have a Twitter I highly recommend setting it up before the conference. Twitter is a good tool for your note taking and a great way to follow the Speakers at the conference and the other HR pros you meet there.

Review the sessions ahead of time. If you’re going with people you know talk to them about splitting up and sharing notes from different sessions. This will help you make the most of the sessions and force you to network with new people. Each of you may want to choose up to 3 topics for one session in case you need to make changes for logistics or overflow reasons. So much to hear, so little time.

Take a hard copy of your session calendar with you in case of spotty Wi-Fi.

Be realistic. You probably will not be able to last all day every single day. I recommend deciding if you want to go early or stay late. If you go to a 7am session don’t overdo it and stay through a 4pm session too. Because of this, get plenty of rest leading up to conference time! Bobbi explained it like this, “the flow of the conference is more like a sprint than a marathon, prepare accordingly”. Furthermore, pencil in down time on your schedule. This will allow you to stay fresh! You will also learn from talking with your fellow conference goers so realize the value in connecting with your fellow HR pros!

Meet with some vendors. Not just enter to win. I recommend really looking at the vendor list before you get there and deciding who you may utilize (whether it be for now or in the future) at your organization and make the most of your time at the conference. You never know what you may learn from a vendor or what idea it can spark. And after all, without vendors we really wouldn’t have as great of a conference. So pick 2 or 3 that you like and start from there.

Take notes. Really take notes that you can take back to your organization and present. Make this conference a resource for your organization, not just for yourself.

RSVP to some parties! I worked as a waitress for a LONG time and I always said servers had the best parties. Boy was I wrong; HR people know how to party! I had a blast! Don’t party? Still go! Network! Get free food! Ditch the place before too many drinks have been consumed! 🙂

Last, but certainly not least, if you sign up now for #SHRM14 in Orlando you can save yourself (or your company) some dollars! Pop on over to the shrm.org website and check it out!

Some of my super cool HR network. Check out Angelas comfy shoes!
Some of my super cool HR buddies! Check out Angela’s comfy shoes!

Do you have any “prepping for annual conference” tips? Leave them in the comments!

Why do you HR?

Coming out of #SHRM13 I’m overwhelmed with the information I want to share with you guys. I am trying to pace myself and review my notes and break up the posts so I don’t overwhelm everyone else!  Today I had an interesting conversation with an HR buddy that asked a question I don’t think anyone has ever asked me “Where did you get all the crazy ideas about changing the way HR does thing that you have?” [I know it wasn’t an accusing question because this happens to be one of my few HR buddies that has “crazy ideas” too]

question

Errr… well duh. Where did I come up with my definition of HR? It wasn’t from the textbooks (you all know I don’t have an HR degree right?), it came from experience. It came from not accepting that “this is just the way things are done”. There is always room for improvement and I wanted to improve the working experience for everyone I worked with. I wanted to fine tune the screening process to assure we were selecting the best candidates for our customers and the best customers for our candidates. I recognized that to change the recruiting process we had to change the employee development/engagement as well. It doesn’t stop with a job placement. So where did I get these crazy ideas? From failing. From watching customers fail. From watching employees fail. Finding the pain points of customers and applicants & committing to choose a problem and work towards a solution. That meant trial and error sometimes. It meant listening to customers and candidates and making sure I knew all the legal stuff in between. It meant being transparent. It’s something I didn’t know I was passionate about until I did it. And witnessed results. When I started getting thank you cards from candidates after they went “permanent” with one of my customers and after customers started referring other customers to me because I did a fantastic job for them I knew I was headed in the right direction. I will never settle or be complacent. One of the comments that came up in our conversation today is that I will automatically think when something doesn’t work out (especially when I miss out on an awesome candidate) “What could I have done differently”? Not what could the candidate have done differently or even the organization I work for, but me. You’re never going to do everything perfect and if you really want to keep improving you start with that question. It’s a hard question to ask yourself, especially when the situation at hand provides you with a lot of easy answers/obstacles to blame. If you don’t challenge yourself, who will? Commit to growing. What can you do better for the next time?