The first time I tweeted

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


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.


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!

Won’t you be my… friend?

Frequently over the last two weeks the topic of ‘HR and friends in the workplace’ has popped up in conversation. I have mixed feelings on this topic, but after the 2nd time it came up I decided to shut up and listen to what others had to say. Most professionals are feeding me a line that you can separate your work relationship from your friendship and while I hope this is true, I’m not naïve enough to think that it’s always that easy. I found some people who work in HR and have friends at their work place (or have had friends at their work place while they were in an HR role). Here are some of the things I heard:

Everything was always pretty much fine until she was nearing the end of her employment with us and she suddenly had a sexual harassment complaint. As her friend I felt like she probably was not harassed and because of that I was able to recognize and explain to her that if she wanted to file her complaint officially she needed to talk to someone else in the HR department.

This scenario is tricky because for a personality type like mine I’d be 100% one way or the other… I’d either be team “you’re-overreacting” or I’d be team “lets-beat-him-down-knock-out-all-of-his-teeth-and-tie-him-to-a-tree” (we are woman hear us roar). The HR side of me would take this very serious and start the formal process immediately. How about your friend? Does your friend even realize what position they have just put you in, especially if they are just venting and over stating a situation only to come back later and respond with “oh they weren’t harassing me”. It can happen folks, it. can. happen.

In another conversation I approached an HR pro that has two or three very close friends that work outside of the HR department for her company. It went a little something like this:

Me: How do you feel about HR having friends at work?

Her: I used to have friends in the HR department, but they did me kind of shady so I prefer to have closer friends outside of the department.

Me: Do they ever fish for information they know you have?

Her: Sometimes. One respects that I have that boundary, at least one of them is questionable in that aspect and one of them has a degree in HR so I think she gets it, even though she does different work. The harder part is if one of them complains about an employee or their manager and I have to decide whether I’m friend first or HR first.

Me: Who do you talk about your day with?

Her: No one.

The cool thing about my HR friends is that we swap stories. Sometimes it’s how we reacted to an OFCCP letter, sometimes it’s how we reacted to the S.W.A.T. team jumping off our employers building, hunting an employee down, while we were big-months pregnant, but a lot of times it’s about something off the wall an employee did or said. You know who we can’t have those conversations with? Other people who work at the company and don’t have the same obligations of confidentiality. I can’t imagine not having anyone to swap these crazy stories with. The other thing that stood out to me about our conversation was that she preferred her close friends in the company outside of the HR department vs. inside the HR department. My instinct is to be friends with the HR department over outside of the HR department, generally speaking. will you be my friend

It would be cool if we all had grown-up-like friendships where we could say “while I’m here, I’m HR, please understand that and I’ll understand your role”, but there are these sneaky little things called human emotions and sometimes those human emotions impair our judgment. I’ve often heard the response from the HR pro in the scenario that “I would choose not to be involved in their disciplinary action,” it’s not always a disciplinary action that makes that relationship awkward! These emotions could be in response to a policy that HR is in charge of, the termination of a co-worker that your friend liked, your friend being overlooked for a promotion or pay increase, not hiring a referral your friend gave you, so on and so on. So I ask you, fellow HR pros, can you have friends in the workplace? How do you maintain those friendships? Which comes first HR duties or friend duties?