Bad Training is… bad! A #SHRM18 Interview with Patti Perez

One of the things I get excited about as a conference blogger is the chance to chat with some of the speakers ahead of the event. I pick different speakers every year to, wait for it…, expand my world! Okay, that was a cheesy set-up to spotlight the theme, let me move on!

I had the pleasure of chatting with Patti Perez, VP of Workplace Strategy for Emtrain and patti perezwe had THE. BEST. CHAT.! I picked Patti because her session title, “Top 10 Ways to Make Your Harassment Prevention Training Impactful and Consequential,” caught my eye. I think we can all agree that events playing out in the spotlight over the past year have us all in a position to evaluate our training and culture so this is the kind of session I’m looking for at #SHRM18. What I wanted to find out for all of you, and myself, is Patti’s approach to this topic and I was not disappointed.

Before I tell you what I learned about her session I should pause to tell you how excited she is to be speaking at SHRM again. This time she is most excited about connecting with attendees because the last two times she presented at the big show she didn’t take the time to do any intentional networking! I want to encourage you all to go ahead and follow her on twitter @patticperez to help her with this goal (You can also find her on LinkedIn here, and yes she is already planning on meeting Steve Browne in person this year to help him out with his goal to meet every person at #SHRM18).

For this session you can expect Patti to tell us like it is: bad training is BAD, bad training is ineffective! She’s going to call you out if you’re doing training with just your compliance blinders on because it has to be so much more! You saw that she has her JD and you thought she was going to roll in and teach us compliance didn’t you?

Patti’s approach is delivered in 3 main sections: 1) Philosophical/big picture consideration. 2) Practical Tips. 3) Delivery/design and how to engage. More of a “here’s a template, but please accommodate for your organization as needed.”

I’ve been to many a conference and one of the things that I hear often is “that’s nice, but we could never do that” so I dug a little further and chatted Patti up about that very challenge. How can we implement this in our organization? Patti believes there are basically three kinds of executives/managers when it comes to this challenge and we can divide them up in buckets, just for fun! The first bucket being “woke executives” or the executives who already understand the business case for a healthy organization. The second bucket being the kind who knows “simply complying isn’t good business” or the group who knows they don’t want to be the next Uber (or insert many a name instead of Uber). The third, and most challenging bucket, being the “paranoid, fearful, people are out to get me” group who basically lack trust and haven’t understood the benefits of treating people professionally, respectfully, and with a transparent approach. To apply what you’re hearing in this session (or any session at any conference) you have to identify which one is your audience (what bucket does your management team fall in) and build your case to that challenge. Patti wants to move everyone out of the paranoid bucket, but its probably going to take work from her and the audience to accomplish that task.

Training is one piece to the puzzle, its not a magic pill, and it has to match your overall approach to your work environment. Saying one thing in training and doing another during real life opportunities in the workplace will undoubtedly render your training useless so it is necessary for your training to be a reflection of your organizations approach to problem solving and how you value your talent. I’m really looking forward to hearing from Patti at #SHRM18 and would love to meet you at her session!

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You look like you can do this job.

I recently attended #SHRMVLS in DC with a slew of my favorite SHRM Volunteers from all over the country. This is my second time attending and the connections I make at this event are so valuable. These are other HR volunteers from across the country who are in the same shoes I’m in, or were just in them, or are about to be in them. We get to hear from awesome speakers and find out about valuable resources to help us in our home chapters as we work hard to provide our hometown HR community with everything we can.

We have two opportunities to attend break out sessions with other chapters the same size as ours. In the meeting I attended we broke off into groups to discuss challenges we were facing in our chapters and shared ideas and experience to take back and try for ourselves. I love this meeting because these are my people, if for no other reason than because they have the same size chapter that we do in North Alabama and can relate to our struggles and triumphs.

The most disturbing thing happened while in that breakout session. One of the groups shared that they wanted to have a better social media presence and their idea was to put a college student on the board because they would be good at it.




Do not do that anymore. Do you know what you just said? You said “you look like you could do this job.” You are in HR and you said “you look like you can do this job.” Nooooooo. This is wrong on so many levels, yet it happens all the time. Think of how angry we get as the HR professional of our organizations when a hiring manager does this-makes an assumption that someone “looks the part.”

Or you think it doesn’t happen in your organization because you have a diversity committee, inclusion policies, sensitivity training, extensive interview training, etc. Maybe it doesn’t happen in your organization, maybe no one on your team has ever looked at a candidate and thought “he looks like he’d be great at math,”or “she has the look for sales” or “I bet that student can do our social media.” Maybe it was something you thought was harmless like “women are good at assembly line work-because they have small hands.”

An ethnicity doesn’t determine your math ability. The way you look doesn’t tell me how well you can do sales. Being a student doesn’t tell me that you can leverage social media skills to build an effective marketing campaign for an organization through the correct channels. People with good dexterity are probably the best at performing assembly line tasks regardless the size of their hands.

This is a soft example of what is happening in organizations that we need to fix, but I want to really challenge you to dig deep and make sure you have left no stone unturned in giving your hiring managers every resource possible to make them good at identifying talent and not a look, not a skin color, not a religion, not an age. Allowing this behavior is contributing to a much bigger problem.

What have you done to fix this or when have you experienced someone else making a decision on what you could or could not do based on the way you look?


I’m ready for #SHRM16


Are you?

I am ready to get to DC and see some of my friends and get some running done in my favorite place in just a couple of days! So here’s all the things I’m doing in the 11th hour to get ready:

  • Download #SHRM16 app
  • Add sessions to app
  • Add back up sessions to app (in case my desired session is full)
  • Download presentations for the sessions I’ve chose
  • Checking to see which friends I know will be there (search the #SHRM16 hashtag on twitter)
  • Finding HR pros on Snapchat and Instagram to connect with before getting to DC (seriously, I love snapchat- add me: kminny32)
  • Checking my sessions one more time
  • Double checking my hotel reservations (just in case)
  • Checking to see if the keynotes have a book I want to buy (I have to mentally prepare myself for the line at the SHRM store)
  • Making sure I have shoes (besides my running shoes) in my suitcase so TK doesn’t have to save the day two years in a row!
  • Packing my portable phone charger battery pack thingamajig

What did I forget? I’m sure I forgot something…

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Breakthrough Moments

#SHRM16 is just around the corner and I cannot describe how excited I am to reconnect with the best HR pros from across the country in DC this summer. As I study the schedule of speakers and topics this year I can’t help but revisit the theme of the conference, Breakthrough Moments. I think the theme is appropriate and it has me thinking back on some of the breakthrough moments I’ve already had in my career.

To prepare for the annual conference this year I thought I’d recap my top three breakthrough moments from previous annual conferences I’ve attended. I’m just a small town girl, working in HR in little ole Alabama and I really do believe that getting out of the state and to SHRM annual conference has helped me break barriers and create shining moments in my own HR career. Without further ado, here they are:

3) Maybe this one belongs higher on the list, but it’s definitely in the top 3. This one happened in Orlando at #SHRM14. We were hot in the midst of some drama about certifications and I put out a blog post defending my current certification that made me feel vulnerable. It was a two part post, but part one shared my secret so of course it received a little more attention. I was sitting in the bloggers lounge when my pal Ben mentioned the post and we just happened to be sitting across from Gerry Crispin who decided to go read the post. I don’t know Gerry well, but I know he knows recruiting well and I was just completely caught off guard that he would stop what he was doing, read my blog post, and tell me what he thought. It was encouraging. Then I started meeting people all over the conference that shared their stories with me on how they ended up in HR and if they did or did not have a degree or some other “basic qualification” that says we can or cannot do our jobs. It was a breakthrough moment for me because I needed to focus on the skills I had and what made me good at my job and stop letting an unchecked box hold me back.

2) This one happened when I attended a global level HR session with Joan Ginsberg and Heather Kinzie in Chicago at #SHRM13. I have nowhere near the experience and knowledge Joan and Heather have, but I adore them and it was the last day of the conference and honestly, I had not picked my sessions for that day so I tagged along with them. They were so kind to not be bothered by my following. As I sat in this session I couldn’t believe all of the things that an HR professional had to consider when their organization chose to go global. At my level I had not been exposed to global HR at all so this was like drinking from a fire hose for me. I was most intrigued with how the three of us that went into the session together all had completely different takeaways. I listened as Heather and Joan debated points that far exceeded my HR knowledge and I knew then that I had to dig in and learn some global HR. This was a breakthrough moment for me because it made me realize I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.

1.) This breakthrough moment is from Vegas, from the speaker I was least expecting it from: Mika Brzezinski. Don’t roll your eyes, but this is about salary. Hearing Mika say she found out that her male counterpart made 17 times the amount she did almost killed me. (I’m pretty sure that’s what almost induced a heart attack, but maybe it was the bacon). I’ve heard women comment on the glass ceiling and how women aren’t always treated the same as men, but basically wrote it off because I assumed those women were being sensitive to specific situations. My bad. Her story made me dig in and pay attention to what is really happening in the workforce when it comes to male vs female pay. He made seventeen times more than her!!!! Mercy…

As I continue to attend SHRM conferences in the future I’m sure this top three list will change, but as of today these are my top 3 breakthrough moments courtesy of previous annual SHRM conferences!

I’m looking forward to more breakthrough moments this year. Not just mine, but yours too! I can’t wait to see you all in DC!blogger badge



8 questions to make you better at HR

Many words are powerful, but if we are not careful we can miss the extent of the power of our words. If you have kids then you know that after your kid learned the word “no” you would give anything for them to stop using it. Pick up your toys. No. Go potty. No. Eat your dinner. No. Is your name no? No. A two letter word that can drive a parent crazy, am i right? It’s also a two letter word that can drive our leaders  at work crazy. It’s a disappointingly common mistake in HR.

Manager: Hey, can we change..

HR: No.

Manager: Can I…

HR: No.

Manager: What if we…

HR: No.

No shouldn’t be our go-to for a response. No shouldn’t even be on the horizon. When a manager comes in with a problem and a suggestion or solution we shouldn’t immediately fire back a “no” and hide behind some compliance effort. When we do that, especially when we consistently do that, we lose the trust and respect of the leaders in our organization. We become their last stop when they need something. We become the group they call to clean up a mess instead of the group they call to help them think through the process of executing a great plan from the beginning. What about when you were growing up and how you identified which parent was going to say no to something specific and which one wouldn’t- who did you ask? You obviously asked the one who wouldn’t say no (unless you were a Hutto kid, then you definitely knew better than to try that).

When we constantly say no we are viewed as something less than a business partner and something more like a hall monitor on a power trip. I don’t mean when we say “No, HR cannot plan that social event” I mean when we say “No, HR cannot change that policy” or “No, HR cannot support that benefit chandept of noge” or “No, HR cannot help you fire that person” or just “No, we cannot do it that way.” When we constantly use the response “No” we are underestimating the power that it has on how our employees and leaders view us.


Think back to the last job you had that wasn’t HR. Did you have something that you viewed as an unnecessary hurdle in executing your position? Was corporate or HR to blame for that hurdle? Did you have a manager that you wished was better at managing people? What if that manager had gone to HR for some guidance and was left with a response of “no.” Does that knowledge change how you view that person? Does the fact that HR didn’t support your leadership make you more angry at the manager or at HR? Did you have questions about benefits that you didn’t understand? Did you have an HR team that was annoyed by your questions about your benefits? Do you feel like you were recruited by a recruiter who was knowledgeable about the company or someone that just told you what they needed to tell you to get you to accept a position with them? Did you have problems with HR before you were HR?

Everyday that we are faced with problems to solve we should stop and ask ourselves simple questions, such as:

  1. If I were the employee, how I would I feel about this?
  2. or If I were the manager, what kind of support would I expect?
  3. How would this keep me from doing my job well if I were in their shoes?
  4. How could I explain/train on this topic in a way that helped employees understand this better?
  5. How does this impact our organizations business?
  6. Is there a solid business reason for doing it this way?
  7. Is this helpful to our goal or harmful to it?
  8. If I were coming to HR for help/insight/etc. would I be happy with the solution I’m about to provide?

This shouldn’t be confused with people pleasing, because that’s just as dangerous as always saying no. What it should do is make you think about how you are behaving in a way that may have a negative impact on your department’s image and what you can do to fix that. When you do use the answer no, can you defend it with a business reason that makes sense?

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!



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: 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!

Why won’t Walmart invest in customer service training?

Those of you that know me already know that I happen to be a couponer. Not an extreme couponer, but a couponer nonetheless. It started out of necessity… or maybe a precaution. You start looking at options differently when you take an instant $75k pay cut. What my husband and I found though is that we cut our grocery budget from $400 a month to a $100 a month and have more food and household goods on hand than we ever did before. So even now that I’m working again, we still coupon. We have to get somewhat creative though because we are busy and this task does take some time; a lot of times that means my husband gets up and goes to the store early or uses his lunch break for grocery store runs. About a week ago my husband ran to the local Walmart in the morning before he went to work to use a few coupons and pick up a few things. The coupon didn’t ring up correctly in the system (he was doing self-checkout) and he went to ask the associate on duty for help. She took one look at the coupon and proclaimed to my husband that he wasn’t purchasing the right product-because it didn’t match the picture. Guys, you can’t go by the picture alone, you have to read the description. Sometimes a coupon is for any item, but they have a picture of only a couple of that brands item on the coupon. Read the coupon! Before you roll your eyes at me, I’m going somewhere with this! I’m not mad that they didnt want to take the coupon, stay tuned. So my husband who is pretty well versed in the world of coupons now explains to her the products that this coupon covers. She gets her manager. Her manager proceeds to tell my husband that he can only use one of the three coupons I sent him with. While this is going on the associate is crossing her arms in the background and repeating that she “is not getting written up for this” because she “just got wrote up last week for a WIC”. The manager is rudely telling my husband a story about how he has spent 30 years in retail and my husband is wrong. Not a big deal. He decides to skip the purchase altogether and we go on about our lives.

Please tell me why Walmart will not invest in customer service training… at all? I told this story to a co-worker who added this story to the pile of Walmart complaints: My friend just got a sewing machine and she has been going crazy with sewing projects. She was at our local Walmart (*note, it is not the same store my husband had his encounter with) and was looking through different fabrics. She asked the associate working that area if a particular fabric she found was curtain material, to which the associate huffed and responded “We can’t comment on the products here either way.” Which would be totally acceptable if the customer was inquiring about the QUALITY of the product, but she wasn’t. So the customer asked if she could help with something that would’ve required her to walk over to one of the shelves. The associate responded “Well I hurt when I walk”. Of course this customer gave up too. I happen to know first hand that not ALL Walmarts are terrible, but c’mon. How many of you have said “I’m never shopping there again?” Why do customers keep going back? Why does Walmart not care about this terrible reputation?

Out of curiosity I’ve googled a couple of things like “Walmart Customer Service” “Walmart complaints” and a couple other phrases. There are websites dedicated to customers venting about their bad experiences. There are youtube videos of employees being rude to customers, engaging in arguments and calling people names. I know they are not the only retail store that will pop up in a bad customer service search nor are they the only ones with terrible videos on YouTube of employee behavior. I also googled the current CEO of Walmart and looked at his employment history. Hmm.   2 things jumped out at me about the Georgia Tech alumni: 1) he is one of those CEOs that likes to get in front of the employees once a year and pretend he knows some of the low-level associates in stores he has probably never been in & 2)his goals have nothing to do with customer service. Go ahead and google him and find out for yourself, his name is Michael T. Duke.

Are they really missing the mark though?

“When I look out on the associates in this arena, I know I’m looking at a strong Walmart.  I’m so proud of the work that you do, and it’s reflected in the success of our company.  Last year, earnings per share were up 10.6%.  We added $22 billion in net sales.  And free cash flow was up 18.1%.”

Sometimes we think our organizations are missing an obvious opportunity to make improvements, but the truth is sometimes we aren’t privy to the back-end of the information to see what the real problems are. And when the people at the top get numbers like this in front of them, you couldn’t convince them with a million bad customer experience videos that they have a customer service problem. If customer service is a problem why are sales up? Numbers don’t lie after all.


If I get hit by a bus…

I’m such a big fan of the “hit by a bus instructions” that I drive most people crazy about it. When I learn something new or add a new task to my normal routine I document it. And then I document it again. For real y’all, if I get hit by a bus tonight I want my team to be able to easily access what I have been working on, what my pending deadlines are and what work requires an immediate pick up and run. Too often we think that people will only be out of work for a day or two at a time, but let’s face it these instructions are for multiple circumstances. 1) the obvious-if I get hit by a bus. 2) if I get mad as all get out (after my screw you fund is built up of course) and walk out, never to be seen or heard from again. 3) if you get all mad at me and walk me out, never to be seen or heard from again.

As HR professionals we have all seen a situation where we “suddenly” had a problem employee we had to get rid of and start devising a plan of how to divide up the work tasks this person was responsible for. Wait, you do know what work tasks that person was responsible for, right? Oh, well there is another problem. How do you know what they are doing? Oh okay-you can just go around to their co-workers and gather information and piece their normal job functions together. Cool. Good luck with that.

Sometimes we don’t want to ask employees to keep a “living” training manual of what they do. It may take too much time, they are busy enough after all. The employee may start thinking we are going to fire them or replace them. Or you think they probably won’t do it anyway. Well, my dear HR pro, that is because you are not selling it right. I am often baffled at the lack of salesmanship from HR pros and must say I deeply value my selling capabilities. When our job is to manage our human resources we have to get creative, we have to find a way to get our humans to receive our message! Example: Is your work environment team oriented? Then you could sell it as a way to relieve pressure from the team if something happens and they have to step in and help with your job functions at the last-minute (hello, what if you get hit by a bus). Are your employees focused on climbing the ladder? Well then their transition up will be easier when they have the opportunity if they can train their successor quickly and give them a go to guide for the day-to-day things.

Still not enough for you to think about these handy-dandy manuals? How about this “hit by a bus instructions” should include a point of contact sheet. This sheet should list everyone and everything this employee is a POC for and what all contact information is used for this POC. Why? Because almost a year ago I switched jobs for the first time in 7 years. In those 7 years I accrued a lot of different responsibilities and became the POC for a lot of different employees, vendors, customers, etc. I still (with the most recent being yesterday morning) get phone calls on my cell phone from different people who the company failed to follow-up with and change the POC info. The most recent call was from the security service because the burglar alarm was set off. The call before that (two weeks prior) was about an employee working on third shift who got injured on the job. When I say third shift I mean my phone rang at 1:13 in the morning for an issue I didn’t need to know about. This list goes on and on and on. Had they taken the time to go through the instructions I had in reference to my job and the point of contact info they would’ve been able to take care of notifying everyone promptly. Or I could just change my cell phone number right? Don’t worry, I will soon. Seriously though, in the case of the burglar alarm what if it was a crisis that needed to be handled immediately? That isn’t the time to scramble around for the password for the security customer service rep to verify you are legit while you frantically tell the tale of the employee that is no more.

Employees, keep track of what you do. Keep track of who you are the contact for. Keep track of all the contact information you have for all of your point of contacts relevant to your projects. Don’t leave your team high and dry for any reason whether its you really get hit by a bus or you get ticked and walk out.

Employers, know what your employees are doing. You can do that without micro managing, I promise. Assign a back up point of contact for all projects, just in case. Don’t nag employees, but do follow-up and see if they are indeed keeping a good operating manual for you or someone else to take over in case something goes bad.

Managers, don’t spring a last-minute problem employee on us. Bring your issues to HR and lets talk about how to deal with it. I promise we won’t immediately say fire this person (that is why you don’t tell us right away isn’t it?). We will work with you, but if the employee doesn’t get better it’s a lot easier to get them out the door if we have followed procedure. We didn’t make this stuff up, its to protect you and the company so cooperate with us.

work instructions