Inspiration- #SHRM14 style

A week ago I was listening to Robin Roberts inspire 10,000+ HR professionals with her journey, wisdom and strength. I continue to be impressed with the speakers that SHRM pulls for events, but Robin Roberts probably takes the cake! She was so humble and I love her sense of humor. A week later I’m still sitting her amazed at the honor of sharing a room with her. She was just amazing, but we also heard from one of our own, Heather Abbott. Heather, if you do not know, is an HR professional (and certified I might add) that was injured at the Boston marathon bombing. Heather lost part of her left leg and has had to overcome a life changing injury. She decided to be an advocate for others who have experiences similar to hers. It was inspiring to hear from Heather and she was a great choice to pair with Robin Roberts message.

Going back through my tweets (which is basically my way of taking notes) I only had three tweets during Robin’s session. That honestly happened because I was paying attention to her the entire time! So what did I learn from Robin?

  • Things will not always go as planned, and that’s just life-you can go on. We already know that we have to be ready to switch gears when a plan doesn’t pan out as beautifully as we’ve imagined, but a reminder doesn’t hurt.
  • Proximity is power! The notion that proximity is power is… well… powerful! I can think of several examples throughout my career thus far that panned out the way they did because of proximity.
  • When you strut, you stumble (everyone needs a reminder to not let yourself get cocky).
  • Transparency will have a huge impact. When Robin told the story of almost crying on air when asked if she found her family after Katrina hit she walked us through her thoughts that focused heavily on the fact that she was going to get fired because she was showing emotion on air. Her real emotions had a positive impact on ratings and people felt connected to the heartache that Katrina caused. Transparency is not always a bad thing. If Robin Roberts can be transparent on air, what is holding you back in the office? I’ve said it a million times, but I believe if you treat people like adults, they will behave like adults. I think that means being transparent. Can’t you tell when someone is hiding something from you? What makes you think your employees can’t tell?
  • A good team to cheer you on can get you through anything. We heard about her co-workers, family and friends being there for her in difficult times. They were even there for her when she didn’t expect them to be and they made it very clear to her that it was not just her fight but their fight too during her most recent battle with her health. How awesome is that? How would our workforce feel if they knew we were in their battle too? How would they feel if they could see behind the policies. procedures, etc. and see that we will make sure they have everything they need to face their battles and struggles? Whoooo, I can’t even imagine, can you?

These are simple takeaways that we can use every day in HR routines. The only question is, will you?

What did you love about Robin Roberts session?

I have a certification secret #SHRM14

If you are an HR pro in the states you’ve heard some chatter about the certification. You’ve heard good things, bad things, true things and plenty of false things. You’ve seen die-hard SHRM supporters and die-hard HRCI supporters. You’ve probably read heart-felt blog posts from HR professionals that are volunteer leaders and you’ve seen twitter feeds from pissed off members. You’ve heard people say certifications don’t mean anything and you’ve heard plenty of people say they passed it without any effort. Yeah, you’ve pretty much heard it all and even though I’m sooooooooo OVER all the certification talk, I’m going to tell you my certification story.

I fell into HR by accident. I’ve told the story a thousand times about how my husband had to basically drag me kicking and screaming into a temp service when we moved to Decatur, AL during my job search. I remember being terrified that they were going to send me to work on some assembly line somewhere (I would never last in any kind of hands on work), but I filled out my application anyway. I sat nervously across from the office manager while she read every detail of my application and asked me pointed questions about working with people, even crazy people, and what my goals were. I was in college still and working towards a degree in Sociology and Justice Studies (minor in psychology), for no good reason. I needed a job. They offered me a position to work in the office and the next day I was in an office wondering what the heck my new job meant. I learned one thing at a time and navigated through opportunities until I found myself running the branch in Huntsville. Running my branch for the company gave me the opportunity to interact with my HR customers on a daily basis beyond a third-party recruiting role and more as an HR business partner. Having daily opportunities to sit on site with customers and tackle their HR issues together changed our recruiting model and procedures. We pushed the envelope, became painfully transparent, and delivered amazing results.  This gave me the insight I needed into the world of HR to fall in love with it.

When my time was up in staffing it was time to get a “real HR” job. No more temp/staffing world, I had a resume to build. At one point while I was working in staffing I realized I was going to do nothing with the degree I was working towards and I quit school. I promised I’d go back when I could and that I would get a degree in something I was interested in utilizing. (I know that made you cringe). We’ve all heard someone say that and you guessed it, I didn’t go back. I did, however, sit for my PHR exam. I didn’t have the time or funds to get my degree and I had every reason to sit for the PHR. A large portion of our local HR population are certified and HR jobs were transitioning from preferring a PHR certification to requiring it. It was my last chance to sit for the PHR without having my degree so it was then or never. I paid for it out-of-pocket, I took it, and in January 2011 I became certified. I am PHR certified and proud. My certification means something to me. My certification was the first step in backing up my on the job HR experience. My PHR means I take my profession serious. My PHR is part of my HR.

My certification secret is I don’t have a degree. We give Hank (can I call you Hank?) and others involved with SHRM slack for not being certified, but what does it mean to our profession that I’m an HR practitioner without a degree? I don’t tell people that I don’t have a degree, I avoid it at all costs because it’s embarrassing and sometimes I feel like it’s a disservice to the profession (in fact, I don’t even know how I’m going to show my face at #SHRM14 today now that I’ve published this). I am working in the wonderful world of corporate HR and am fortunate enough to get to utilize tuition reimbursement. I am officially back in school, working to finish my degree, but had I not been certified I wouldn’t have even come close to being considered for my current position. My certification doesn’t replace the need for a degree, but it allows me the opportunity to showcase that I am knowledgeable. It lets me showcase that I am continuously learning about my profession. Most importantly it allows me to be a Professional in Human Resources.

I try super hard to stay away from long blog posts and I’m fully aware that this one is lengthy, forgive me! Check back tomorrow for what the new SHRM certification means for my certification story and my plan of action. 

HR is human too!! #SHRM14

#SHRM14 is buzzing with fun topics, great vendors and 13,000 attendees, but I may have witnessed the best session that this conference had to offer! This morning Steve Browne gave an energizing presentation that was very much-needed, considering it was 7am. Steve has an amazing outlook on the HR profession and how we can be change agents for our organization. The theme is to not be what we think HR is supposed to be and start being what our people need us to be.  How do we get there? We have to start with being ourselves at work. We all know HR has stereotypes and to save face I won’t run through a list of them, but the best way to break those stereotypes is to be ourselves at work because after all, HR is human too!

Now that you are being yourself lets simplify HR. Quit using policies to punish people. Stop automating your leaders. Stop and listen to your people. I know, that’s crazy talk to some of you, but put some thought into it. We don’t get it because we want people to be like us and not like themselves. When did that happen? Why do we want people to stop being themselves at work? Why do you stop being yourself at work? Doesn’t that make for a more taxing day? Doesn’t that make for a tense work environment? Isn’t that way less enjoyable? I digress..


Steve had a lot of great takeaways and for the sake of keeping your attention I’m going to keep it short (AND HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT WHEN YOUR LOCAL CHAPTER OF HR PROS ARE IN NEED OF A RECHARGE YOU GET THIS GUY TO COME DOWN AND SPEAK AT AN EVENT), but a huge one that really set with me is “Do not let anyone demean what you do.” Not even your friends. We can’t expect our people to respect what we do, if we don’t respect what we do. Are you listening HR? Are you listening my fellow snarks? Nothing has ever been improved using negativity. Negativity is not a problem solver, if anything it’s a problem creator. Steve challenged us to not use this approach so I’m passing the challenge on to you. We wouldn’t want our people to try to implement change through negativity, right?



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!


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  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!


Time to pack #SHRM14

#SHRM14 is just a few days away and I’m packing up for a week away with my HR buddies. I’m pretty excited for the opportunity to attend annual conference again. For me it’s like a place to recharge and get excited for the profession again. You’ll hear inspiring stuff from the keynote speakers, something you can bring back to the workplace in concurrent sessions and you’ll grow your network while you are there. You’ll have everything you need to be a great HR pro under one roof from an I “heart” HR jacket to the latest and greatest HR books to vendors for every possible thing you can think of. A quick Google of #SHRM14 will point you to some sound advice from veteran conference goers, groups from all over the country trying to connect with people in their industry, and of course party guides for making the most of your week out of the office.

I just have a few notes to put you at ease before you head to Orlando this year. 1) Stop worrying about silly things like dress code. You are a grown up, wear whatever you want. 2) We are all busy, your office will survive without you. Do not be that guy that sighs and huffs and puffs between each session while you proclaim how busy you are and that you don’t understand why your managers and so on can’t make decisions without you (we can only assume it’s because you won’t let them make decisions without you when you are in the office).  3) Have a plan. You can check out all of the sessions before you get to Orlando so do it. Download the app and plan your day out, it’s not that hard-pick a session!

Get out there and learn something new. Have fun in Orlando. Make new connections. Go back to the office and share what you’ve learned and follow-up with those new connections. They will prove to be useful throughout the year. Don’t be shy. Don’t waste your trip to Orlando. If you are going to #SHRM14 email me or hit me up on twitter and lets hang out! But, if you can’t find me it’s because I’m at Disney trying to pick up a gig as Belle while we are there, but one that doesn’t sing. I don’t have a good singing voice. Maybe they have a Belle job for someone that can rap? A girl can dream…



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 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!