The most bang for your conference buck!

I’m so thrilled to tell yall I’ll be at #ALSHRM16 this year!!!! <– all of those exclamation points should seal the deal. Why am I so excited? I’m so glad you asked!

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The Alabama SHRM State Conference was the first conference I ever attended. I was mesmerized by this huge group of professionals who worked in the same field I did. I didn’t know there were so many of us nor did I know there was a place close to me where we could all get together. I had the best time at the state conferences, but a few years ago I willingly gave them up. I was losing interest in the agendas and none of the keynotes caught my eye. The food and venue were becoming boring. The takeaways no longer relevant to where I was in my career etc., etc.. Until last year.

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Melissa and Bobbi, conference co-chairs

Last year a couple of HR professionals I know were conference co-chairs and I listened for months as they excitedly shared the agenda information, upgraded venue, fun events, great giveaways, time left for networking, etc. etc. I thought to myself, good for them! Somehow I landed a spot to speak on day one of the conference and decided to volunteer on day two of the conference so I could stick around and see what was happening. Y’all… this conference blew me away! The signage was so professional, the volunteers on their game, the keynotes knocking it out of the park. Bobbi and Melissa (conference co-chairs) really shook things up.

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Awesome and engaging volunteers

Guess what? They are at it again! They have an AMAZING line-up of speakers and topics to fit a variety of career level needs. In true HR fashion, day one will kick off with a much NEEDED legal update, followed by Marlin Smith presenting “Black Guy in the C-Suite,” and closing out with (what I know will be entertaining) “Generation Them,” from Kristin Scroggins. Tuesday night is also a great time to kick back with some of your new favorite HR Pros and have a good time.

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Wednesdays agenda takes it to the next level with opening keynote from Chuck Blakeman, lunch keynote from our dear friend Tim Sackett, and a closing keynote on HR improv! The concurrent sessions offer topics from background checks to strategic leadership.Some of the best vendors in the HR sphere will be there to meet with us in between these awesome sessions.

The ALSHRM group has done a wonderful job of putting together a conference that can meet the needs of many of our HR friends while bringing us a diverse group of speakers to challenge our thought process and encourage us to be the HR Super Hero we are all capable of being. I’m also excited that the conference provides 10.25 hours of recert credits for both of my HR certifications. Did I mention the conference is only $325 & it’s in a fun and growing area in Birmingham? Come check it out, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! http://bit.ly/1Q3JDPL

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Let me Google that for you!

I am running up fast on ten years of HR and recruiting experience. Seems like I shouldn’t be able to say that, because ten years is a long time. I’ve learned a couple of things through the years and that’s sort of why this blog exists- to tell the other good folks of our profession about my massive mistakes and how to avoid them. This one is particularly fun because it happened early on in my career and has recently come full circle.

Sometimes people say mean things about my generation. They talk about us like we can’t read or don’t have ears for hearing. People say my generation is rude and full of lazy know it alls. I’ve defended those things for my generation many many times, but unfortunately I’ve also exhibited that dreadful behavior.

Early on in my career I joined my local SHRM chapter. Our chapter was rather large and I started volunteering so I could get to know some other professionals in a smaller atmosphere. Eventually I ended up on our board and as one of the youngest and most inexperienced professionals on the board I did allow myself a juvenile moment in front of all of my peers.

The amount of emails you receive on the board can sometimes be outrageous. Group emails, much like group texts, are like a solidified prison that you can’t tunnel your way out of. On one particularly busy work day a useless board related group email came through my inbox and instead of answering the question in the email I responded with the lmgtfy link to the answer. I know, I know-AWFUL. I considered making this one a video blog just so you could hear the agony in my voice as I relive that ridiculous antic. So how did this come full circle? There is an HR position open that someone else thinks I would be a PERFECT fit for and honestly the job sounds great, but guess what? The owners wife is that HR person that I sent a let me google that for you smart alec answer to on a reply all email on our local SHRM chapter board. Yep. Sigh…. Guess who isn’t touching that one!

let me google that for you

What should I have said in that email? How about something along the lines of “I googled your question and the top answer was xyz.” Much better than a smart alec link. Google, whats up with that link? I can’t be trusted to use that tool responsibly and now it’s come back to bite me.

google first

Lesson? It’s all in the delivery. Even on your busiest or crummiest days, what you say and how you act is a reflection of you and can come back and bite you or it can help you! Where do you want to be and what behavior is going to get you there?

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You don’t have to get coffee

We are in the middle of my second favorite season at work-college recruiting! A successful college recruiting season is vital to my most favorite season at work-summer, for our summer intern program. We have a stellar intern program for technical talent and it’s insanely tough to get into. One of the selling points that we beat to death comes down to “you don’t have to get coffee.” What we really mean is our interns don’t get handed petty tasks to keep them busy for 10-12 weeks and shadow technical subject matter experts. Instead they get handed real work to perform right along side our SMEs. There is obviously economical value in our interns applying the skills they have acquired to our backlog, but is there economical value in having them get coffee?

coffee run

I don’t mean that our technical interns should run out every morning to pick up the gangs coffee order for morning SCRUM, but maybe other lower level tasks. I recently read what Daniela Pierre Bravo had to say about being an intern for Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe and she starts off with the first time she met Mika. Her first question and first order had to do with fetching coffee. I laughed this off as soon as I read it, because again I sell “You don’t have to get coffee.” The story focused on why getting her coffee right was so important and why it helped Daniela be successful in other things. It basically boiled down to this (which I think is brilliant):

“Whatever industry you enter, your first few roles will be to support others. In order to do that, it is imperative to take cues about the needs and preferences of others, because at the end of the day, if you are there in an entry level position, whatever the industry is, you are there to make the jobs of those above you easier. That is what gives you added value and helps you excel at your role.”

I realize we are still talking about coffee, but she uses this example to illustrate how she recognized the importance of each task assigned. Nothing was assigned for fun, everything had a purpose. I think this is difficult for educated entry level folks to grasp. We think when we go from high school to college we are working hard in a different way to skip some of these entry level tasks that aren’t as fun or are harder to attach to the bigger picture. A lot of times when a task doesn’t make us feel good we tend to devalue that task and find a way to not do it. Daniela flips us a nice reminder that we all have to make our way and that understanding the little tasks will lead to us being entrusted with bigger tasks.

Now I’m going to switch to more general terms. What expectations are you allowing your entry level people to set for your organization? College isn’t replacing entry-level experience, it’s preparing students for entry-level positions in a more competitive hiring market. It’s bringing new hires in  your door that have a foundation of knowledge. That’s a good thing, but they have to do some lower level work to appreciate the bigger picture. I’ve never seen an employee that didn’t work hard at the smaller lower level tasks excel in a higher level position. I’m sure it’s happened, but I’m also sure it’s not the norm. Do your employees a favor, develop them. If you don’t expect them to do tasks that need to be done just because they don’t want to do them, you are not setting them up for success anywhere else. And those employees, like Daniela, who just get it- duplicate them. Whatever you do, don’t punish those employees by giving them work that their peers don’t want to do and then rate them the same come performance review time.

Get your own coffee? 

Before I close this one out I want to clarify a very important reason our interns don’t have to get coffee is because we all get our own coffee. One of my favorite stories I heard an engineer tell (with lots of enthusiasm) on a college recruiting trip to a student was how he gets his coffee from the same coffee pot that one of the co-founders of our company gets his from and how much he appreciates that kind of access to the top technical talent we have on staff!

 

 

Messed up HR

I just finished reading “Grow Your Value” by Mika Brzezinski and have some thoughts to share! I first heard Mika at #SHRM15 in the lively city of Las Vegas. She was a replacement for the previously scheduled Sheryl Sandberg and before that event I had never even heard of her. I remember watching her fumble with her notes that I was sure she probably prepared in the car on the way to the venue and judging her for having her sunglasses still on her head and an awful shade of pink lipstick-the kind that all of the housewives were wearing a couple of seasons ago. At one point in her presentation she realized she could walk away from the podium and still be heard and I thought how dumb could she be? She really didn’t know she could walk away from the podium, but the truth is that is the kind of silly mistake I would make in front of a similar audience.

Later this year I’m going to spend a lot of time talking about my first reaction (and all of my female friends first reaction) to Mika and how she presented herself. Not just our first reactions to Mika, but all other females as well. This is going to be a year of digging deep and sharing secrets, some real truth bombs coming at you later this year!

Reading through her book, Mika never hides how busy she is, how much she scrambles to keep it together, how hard it is for her to say no to events, how hard it is for her to shut her brain off at night and sleep, how hard it is to make every event for her children, etc. Real life things that real working women struggle with at all different levels of the “ladder”. I appreciate her digging in and sharing about these things and working hard to get other women to share about these struggles and offer advice. There are some great examples of powerful women that she uses in her book and they all have wonderful advice for women looking to balance it all or “choose” between family and career. I didn’t think I would say it, but that book is definitely worth the read. However, let me get to the point, there is one story that caught my attention as an HR professional first (and as a woman second).

One of the many women in the book is sharing her story of her career and the time she had to find new employment. She proceeds to share lessons she learned about valuing what she brings to the table, leveraging her network, and being confident. She talks about applying to a TON of jobs and having a hard time translating her previous skills to a new role because she works in an industry that was challenged by change. Then she says this:

“I know it can be demoralizing to fill out your hundredth job form-and you realize just how messed up the entire HR system is-but knowing that I was moving toward a next step kept me pushing on.”

Did you see what I saw? How messed up the entire HR system is? Yikes! My first reaction was to be like “whoa, don’t blame us!” My second reaction was more like “I wonder why she thinks the HR system is messed up?” Finally, my third reaction was “Oh God, is the whole HR system messed up?” If in fact it is perceived as “messed up,” is it really messed up? Would we call her a jaded job seeker and move on? What if she specifically shared that with the world about YOUR organization? Would you call her  jaded and move on or would you look internally at how you handled her process and try to identify areas for improvement? It’s very easy for us to blame the other person and use excuses about why they may perceive the HR system as they do, but that doesn’t solve much for us. I’m curious how job seekers view your HR system and processes, are you?

HR System

What a ride!!! #ALSHRM15

WOW! Wow, wow, wow! I just got back from the Alabama 2 day State SHRM Conference and I had such a GREAT time! First, the conference team had a great theme: “Roller Coaster of Love, the UPS and DOWNS of HR”alshrmconferencecorrectphoto

Second. They had great speakers: http://bit.ly/1EZ4DLO This group was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I heard at least a bit of everyone’s presentation and everyone did fabulous! I was so impressed with this line up of speakers.

Third. 10.25 recert credits! They even had some strategic AND global recert credits!

Day 1 was a shorter day and it had three great general sessions! Broc Edwards closed it out with a killer challenge to a room of 300 or so HR professionals to be BOLD! During day 2 (now up to over 500 attendees) of the conference the halls were buzzing with excitement. So many people were pumped and ready to accept the challenge of being bold. All day long during day 2 professionals were bouncing from great session to great session with enthusiasm and excitement that we all wish we could have every single day on the job. What I loved the most was overhearing all of the positive comments from attendees. It was refreshing! It felt like we were all in this together and that we could all make a difference together.

Yeah, yeah I'm kind of cheesy...
Yeah, yeah I’m kind of cheesy…

 

In just about every session we were challenged to stop being just HR and start being bold and passionate and reasonable! Stop being the department of no, do risk assessment and present your team with options, help the business reach their goals, etc. etc. What’s the best thing I learned? Probably that we are business professionals who happen to work in HR. Let that sink in for a bit! Here’s some of what you missed:

Okay, seriously, I know that was a lot of tweets, but its only a sample! Go search the hashtag #alshrm15 for more and to find some GREAT HR PROFESSIONALS to follow! What do you think about these takeaway tweets?

Go ahead and mark your calendar for #ALSHRM16 because I hear its going to be even better!! SAVE THE DATEA huge thanks to our conference co-chairs Melissa DeVore & Bobbi Wilson and their committees for pulling off such a great 2 day conference, allowing us HR pros to connect with each other, learn from each other, and recharge! Best State conference I’ve been to in years and I cannot wait to do it again next year!

About that apology

Growing up I wasn’t ever really forced to use my manners very often, including apologizing. My dad was dead set on teaching me to tell the truth, this was number one for him. Teaching your kid to tell the truth and then making your kid apologize for telling the truth (like when you tell the babysitter that she cannot keep house as good as your daddy) can be tough to explain, so as far as my memory is concerned we mostly skipped that lesson. I did have to apologize for lying, I vividly remember that. I believe this important truth lesson that was hammered into my brain from birth is a huge contributor to my lack of filter. It’s a blessing and a curse. Seriously, my parents taught me more than just telling the truth with this one, they also taught me it was perfectly acceptable to be who I am.

This is also tricky territory. It is perfectly acceptable for me to be who I am, but certain situations call for certain behavior. It’s not okay to text during the National Anthem, even though I’m a texter. It’s not okay for me to walk into an executives office and prop my feet up on their desk and act like I own the place, even if that’s my style. It’s not okay for me to call someone else an @$$hole in an email to corporate, even if they are one (c’mon y’all, we’ve been over this one). It’s not okay to be mean, rude, disrespectful, and downright hateful. It is okay for me to choose not to compromise my values, to hold onto my beliefs, to be honest, to chase my dreams, and to choose not to apologize. It’s okay for me to choose not to apologize for being myself. It’s okay for me to not apologize for the way I think, or for what’s important to me, or for what I believe in. It’s not okay for me to be mean, rude, hateful, ugly and not apologize. Are you with me?

Please don’t use this post as an excuse to not apologize for being a jerk. If you’re a jerk then you should apologize for it and then stop being a jerk, k? Moving on.

Im sorry

Apologizing in your day job. I work with some very talented individuals (in my day job and in my field). It’s truly amazing to watch a group of professionals collaborate and tackle problems together. What hurts my heart is when one professional in the room’s thought process doesn’t align with the rest of the group and that person feels remorse for that and spits out an apology. Do you work for a place that you think falls victim to groupthink? Do you sometimes feel like one of the few people on the outside of that groupthink just looking in? This can happen at even the best of organizations. You being on the outside of the groupthink is a POSITIVE thing, so listen up!! I want you to STOP apologizing. Stop apologizing to those groupthinkers when you have a new idea that they don’t like. Stop apologizing to those folks when your thought process isn’t the same as theirs. Stop apologizing to those folks when you try to do something a different way and it isn’t 100% effective or successful the first time. For the sake of your organization (and possibly your sanity) stop apologizing and hang on to your ideas! Keep them coming. Groupthink cannot be broken by doing the same ol thing we’ve always done, we need YOU and your innovative ideas, fresh perspective, questions, and outlook! You’re making a difference, it’s probably just happening slower than you’d like. Just do me a solid and promise me the next time you’re talking with one of those folks and you didn’t see the same thing they saw, don’t apologize for it-share with them how you came to your conclusion!

Get an intern!

Every HR department needs an intern! I’m convinced. After having my first experience with an HR intern for our department, I’m sold. We legit needed help with our workload, but from the beginning my little HR heart hoped we would be able to give back to the advancement of the profession while getting some real work done. The thing is, our company has a ballin’ intern program that allows engineering students (with 3.5 GPA and up) an opportunity to work on some meaningful technical tasks for our customers. The work they get to do gives them a glimpse of what their field looks like and if they really want to do what they thought they wanted to do. Being an engineering firm we really stumped ourselves when adding an essential business systems intern to the mix. Do we even include this intern in our intern program? For example, at the end of every summer our interns do a technical presentation, open to the entire company to attend, on what their project was. Engineers talking engineering appeals to other engineers, but would HR appeal to our engineers? Would anyone care? What can we teach this HR intern about real HR without spending too much time training? How can we help this intern be sure that HR is the right path.

Amazingly enough I feel like we tackled all of our tough questions this summer and though we were not able to give our intern a lot of HR related work, we made sure we explained things to her that we talked about so she could have an idea of what was going on. I say that, but maybe it isn’t that it’s not HR related work as much as us experienced pros forget that it’s HR related, you know in the grand scheme of things. Anyway, we included her in staff meetings, took her to our local SHRM chapter meetings (NASHRM), encouraged her to do a project to present on and 100% included her in the intern program. She told me she learned a lot this summer and even through filing and scheduling interviews she was exposed to some HR tasks that she hadn’t known existed. When we had a session on benefits at a NASHRM luncheon I encouraged her afterwards to sit down with one of our benefits specialist to understand what all of the benefits talk meant. During interview set up she was faced with a lot of questions about the position that sometimes made her feel like a recruiter rather than a scheduler. She did a lot of research on her recruiting related project and we tested out some of her social media ideas at a NASHRM event. I think we did a great job exposing her to the world of HR and giving her a lot of scenarios that she can use in the classroom this fall when she returns to the classroom for her junior year.

Not only did she do a GREAT job, she gave us all GREAT gifts at the end of the summer! Woo-hoo!
Not only did she do a GREAT job, she gave us all GREAT gifts at the end of the summer! Woo-hoo!

I know it is not always possible to bring in an intern, but I think it’s the best way for us to grow our profession. The future or HR needs guidance and mentoring, so let’s do something about it! Even if you cannot bring in an intern, maybe you can set up a few job shadowing days, those are unpaid ya dig? Making yourself available to HR students to answer their questions or be an example is a great way to make sure that the progress of HR thus far, doesn’t get undone. What are your thoughts? Have you had an HR intern in the past? What was your experience? Any tips on setting up job shadow days for HR students? Leave them in the comments below.