• OHSHRM HR Rocks Wrap Up

    The Trip

    Sandusky, OH – The Kalahari Resort September 20 – I arrived at the Kalahari Resort at 11 PM local time, after a seven hour ride – and $15 in tolls across Indiana and Ohio. Upon our arrival, my traveling partner John Jorgensen, via the magic of twitter, has determined that there are a bunch of late-nighters from the state board still in the bar.  So we decided to dump our stuff in the room and head for a beverage or two, after a long ride. As we headed to our room, who should appear but the infamous host of Drive Thru HR and VP of People Clues Bryan Wempen.  After a little small talk with Bryan, we learn he is headed to the bar – we tell him we will be along shortly. Bryan responds, “Yeah after your 100 mile walk to your room.” Perhaps a bit overstated, as Kalahari Resort is a big facility, but it was about a 5 minute walk to the room.

    Once in the bar, we hook up with Steve Browne – and many of the OHSHRM board members who are enjoying themselves. A couple other faces stand out in the bar – Mike VanDervort and Bill Boorman. A few beers, some conversation and loud music then off to hit the hey after 1 a.m.

    Ohio SHRM Day 1

    Like most conferences, this is a self contained event, that means you don’t have to stick your head outside, if you choose not to. The first session I attended was billed as an Opening Act. The speaker was Mark Stelzner and the topic Social Media & HR – Cutting through the Hype. I have had the good fortune to meet Mark a few times, however, this was the first time I heard him present. Mark is a skilled presenter and engages his audience very well. The content of his presentation was well thought out and eye-opening. He presented a lot of facts and information – but it was not dry at all. If you have a chance to see Mark present, I would highly recommend it. You will not be disappointed.

    It is now lunch time and the conference official opening. This spectacle sets the tone for the event. Conference Chair Steve Browne unabashedly made his entrance in a darkened room to some head-banging HR music. If you haven’t seen it, you can check it out here. So following Steve, we heard from keynote speaker Simon T. Bailey. Simon, a former cast member of Disney, sports an infectious laugh and super-charged level of energy. Simon’s role was to engage everyone and create a buzz, while delivering his message of networking and getting things accomplished. Simon gets my recommendation as well.

    These were the only two sessions I attended in entirety on Wednesday. I did post a couple things on the internet and visit with a group of old friends who had all assembled at the venue. As we chatted, Steve passed us by and made a seemingly snide remark about sessions going on. We continued to visit. It’s too soon to tell, but there is a possibility that a new Blog Talk Radio show may have come from these conversations. The co-hosts for this show are Frank Zupan and John Jorgensen – hmm.

    While the conversation continued, the main ballroom was being transformed into an exhibit hall. This is no minor feat, as we had lunch in the room and were not out of there until sometime after one. But the vendors, the volunteers and the staff pulled it off. So it was off to the exhibit hall to look, eat, mingle, talk with resource partners, drink, talk, mingle, hold drawings, walk around and then it was time for a real dinner upstairs. Dinner and drinks…. and no animals were harmed!

    Ohio SHRM Day 2

    Day two, I slept in – didn’t make the early session –BUT my travel partner did. He is a trooper! The first session I attended was kinda of deja-vu. It was the same room with Mark Stelzner with today’s topic Making a Business Case to the C-Suite. This was another great presentation by Mr. Stelzner. His content and presentation were dead on. The only sad thing about this session is that Mark was heard to say he is contemplating throwing in the towel on doing speaking engagements. I hope this is not the case, this would be a huge loss for the collective body and knowledge of the entire HR community.

    My next Thursday session was Your Employees are going Social. The presenter for this session was Mike VanDervort. Mike had one of the smaller breakout rooms, but it was packed. I thought Mike’s content and presentation were excellent. Mike is a well-known expert in both social media and labor relations. He married the two topics with some compelling information for the folks in attendance. My understanding is his encore session was equally well attended and received very positive feedback. This is a personal observation, I know Mike and would have expected nothing less from him – and I was not disappointed.

    Dave was bad and skipped out of another session to visit with some old friends and talk with some of the folks working the conference to learn a bit from them.

    The last session I attended on Thursday was put on by Bill Boorman. Bill lives in England but is quite involved in HR on both sides of the pond. This session was deemed eligible for GPHR credit. Bill’s session was edgy. Bill used Prezi in lieu of Power Point. Bill, who is also known for hosting TruConferences, did a great job of involving his audience in his session. Bill’s content, while global in nature, shows that things are really not that different in other countries. Bill also touched on some international subjects that would later be covered in China Gorman’s closing keynote address. I had not met Bill, let alone heard him speak, he truly is a thought leader in the HR field. If you get a chance to hear Bill or attend an event that he is attending, I would highly recommend this. Undoubtedly, you will find Bill on the HR scene in many places state-side.

    In typical conference style, I left Bill’s session around 6:30 and found myself back in the big hall at 6:45 for dinner, a contest and a comedy show. In keeping with the rock ‘n roll theme for dinner, it was burgers, fried pickles (they were great), fried green beans, chips and some other things that I didn’t chase down. After everyone had a chance to dine, it was competition time. Throughout the conference, there were gaming stations around for people to compete in the game Rock Band. The highest scoring teams competed in front of the nearly 800 attendees. I am proud to say on of my buddies, Brad Galen from Indiana SHRM, was in the band that placed second.

    With that competition complete, it was on to the main event. Heywood Banks was the entertainment for the evening. I had heard a lot of his material on the Bob and Tom Show. His show was a gut-buster. He had some outrageous stuff and didn’t go with the blue material. The highlight without a doubt was his song Big Butter Jesus. This was a hoot and is based on a true story. He was some of the best entertainment I have seen at any HR conference.

    Ohio SHRM Day 3

    This is go home day and I got up at 5:30 am to attend a 7:15 am session. I was going to be ahead of the game. I walked the ½ mile back to the lobby to take my belongings out to the car, only to find it was pouring outside. So the long walk back to the room to store my bag for later, I headed down to the session early and got to grab some coffee and visit with some folks. Before long, it was time for the “early” session. The poor fellow that had been dealt this unenviable time slot was Benjamin McCall. I really wanted to attend this session because I have met Ben, and have communicated with him often via Social Media. I had always had an inclination to think that Ben was a pretty sharp young man. Well after sitting though his session, I proved myself to be correct. This guy is going places. He is one heck of a presenter, sharp and on his A game. His presentation was very well received and had fabulous content, all the while Ben kept it light and entertaining. No doubt Ben will be speaking more in the days to come. If you get a chance to hear him present, I would suggest you not miss it. Good job Ben!

    Next up was Paul Hebert and Influencing Behavior. Paul had the same room that Mike did and they were standing all over for Paul’s session. I was one of the folks standing. It did not diminish the content. Paul killed it. I was unable to send out any tweets given my position. I felt bad because Paul had some killer content and I had no internet service on my phone and couldn’t fire up my lap top, so I was cyber shut-down. Paul’s content was great, some of it almost clinical in nature. Paul knows his subject material well. He charmed his audience. Paul, I am sorry for not tweeting at your session, but you didn’t need me. I watched the tweet stream for Paul’s encore session, and they were loving it too. Go see Paul if you get a chance.

    The final session before the closing keynote was with William Tincup. William was back in the Cypress Room; his session was titled How to Create User Adoption of HR Software. William is a very intelligent and insightful guy. This comes through in most of what he does. In his session, William provided some great insights into the process of finding, purchasing and implement various types of HR software applications. The information offered by William almost seemed above some of the folks in attendance. William provided some great strategies in dealing with software vendors. I hope people got what he had to say. It was all good. William, too, is on my short list of people you should know and hear speak. If you want to get to know him, reach out to him he is one of the most approachable people that I know.

    Back to the main hall for lunch and the wrap up. I had a really nice lunch and got to sit with Kyle who is one of the three HR people from the Kalahari Resort. After lunch, it was time to wrap things up and Ohio SHRM called on one of the best people in business. China Gorman former COO of SHRM was given the podium. After sharing her life’s journey in the workplace, China gave the audience some tough talk and great advise. She urged them to be business partners and understand all aspect of business. Her presentation also had an international flavor touching on business opportunities throughout the world. She used some video examples to drive her point home. At one point I had to move close to a wall to plug in, so my laptop wouldn’t die. I looked around the room to see everyone riveted to everything that China had to say. China was a strong closer and brought the conference full-circle. She is awesome.


    That was it. There were the thank yous and the congratulatory accolades. And there was one final matter – Ohio SHRM State Council Director Andrea Gurcsik had been conspicuous by her absence. It was announced that she was at a conference for her work in Arizona and could not attend. Late on Thursday, her boss told her to get out of town, get back to Ohio, no matter the cost and see the end of her state conference. Her boss really knew how to motivate and take care of one of his employees. That is probably one of the biggest take aways from the event – know your employees and know how to take care of them!

    A big thanks to all of the folks from Ohio SHRM for being such gracious hosts. We would love to have a couple of your folks come learn and share with us next year in Illinois.


  • Talk Time An Ohio SHRM Takeaway

    Bill Boorman (in the tie died shirt) making his point at OHSHRM

    At the end of day two of the Ohio SHRM conference, I am a little wiser than I was when I arrived.  People attend conferences for a number of reasons, some more honorable than other reasons. But regardless of the reason you can not sit through these sessions and not take something away. My big takeaway is this. Implementation is hard.   I suppose you could use change interchangeably with implementation, as they are generally one in the same.

    At the typically conference you hear about how others have done it, You hear about why you need to do it.   You can learn all of the techniques that have worked in the past, but ultimately YOU have to go do it in your organization. Usually whatever it is, no one else has any interest in getting it done or helping you do it.

    Well today I got a pretty good tip from Bill Boor man on how to get things done.  Bill’s presentation was on global HR, but one thing he talked about must be a universal concept.  During Bill’s program he discussed how HR wasn’t willing to put the TALK TIME into things.

    Talk time is when you sit down with someone and look them in the eye and tell them what you are feeling and thinking.  By and large this needs to be done with all of the staff – they get talk time.   Technology is making it really easy no to grant talk time, or how we can come up with other ways of communicating a message without talk time.

    I guess it seems elementary, but it isn’t. Many of the conversations are difficult. They involve tough subjects, and matters that people don’t want to hear.  These conversations are going to make more work for the employee. It is going to make the employee feel less positive about the organization because of what you are telling them. Nobody wants to hear it, nobody want to deliver the message. So we choose to communicate in way that is less confrontation – but yet removes the human element.

    When I send an email it does not show my facial expression.  When you leave a voicemail you can’t pat someone on the back.  If you use an intermediary they just say, so and so told me to tell you.

    Talk time will make implementation easier. We need to give more talk time and we need to get more talk time. I am going to work on this – thanks Bill!

  • Storyvite The Next Big Social Media Site

    Today is everything is in motion, it’s alive, it’s interactive.  I recall one time (about 20 years ago) I was speaking to my son’s first grade class.  I brought a Power Point presentation and they were all wowed.  Remember it was 20 years ago.  The teacher commented to me, you have that to get their attention and I have this.  She held up a book.  I get it.  I had style and substance – she only had substance.

    So as the techy creatures that we are we seem to be drawn to the glitzy things. Well I am too.  Also, we all want to be that leader, that early adopter and be on the new thing.  Well whether you want to hear it or not there is another Social Media Application out there that might just be the next Facebook.  It is called Storyvite.

    Thanks to Ad age for the picture

    Storyvite is an application that has been developed by a gentleman named Satish Sallakonda and a small team of developers.  This is his brain child. You can find Satish on Linkedin or twitter.  I came to meet him though my Project Social partner Laura Schroeder, who also has a post on Storyvite.  In addition to Laura, Project Social partner Lyn Hoyt has also shared her thoughts on Storyvite.

    Now I think that Storyvite could well be the next huge Social Media Application.  For the record Satish likes that idea.  I see it like this; LinkedIn is a bill board and  Storyvite is a LED billboard.

    C’mon even as much as you are drawn into the Ashton/twitter billboard the LED is so much more compelling.

    So if you haven’t already clicked on over to Storyvite to take a look do so now. and set up a profile.  Satish has set up the invite code of  social if you want to set up a profile.  I have been working on mine and like any other work of art, it is a work in progress.

    Thanks to Satish for sharing with us – and his Storyvite efforts. You can contact him via email at satish@storyvite.com .

    Also thanks to Brian Kersey – Catnip20 for the youtube video.


  • Refs have to train, why not Managers

    Fall is upon us here in the Mid-West.  As a registered USA Hockey Official that means it is time for my re-certification.  Unbeknown to many coaches, parents and players every year I must sit though 6 hours of training, I must skate and take a test, to maintain my certification as USA Hockey Official.  I pay $80 a year for this privilege. Then I pay the state organization of MO & IL for the privilege of being able to referee their games.  So when it is all said and done I usually pay about $120 a year to be name called, jeered, belittled and second-guessed.  I am ok with that.  It is a conscious choice that I make.

    As I think about what is in front of me as an official, I can’t help but think about my other gig HR – managing people, and workplace activities.

    We bring people in, we promote them, we ask them to manage others. This is a promotion. You have done well at making widgets, so now we want you to help us manage those people who produce the widgets. And because you are a good widget maker, you will, no doubt, know how to motivate others to be good  widget makers.   As a Company, we are so sure of this, we will just leave you on your own to manage and motivate others to be as good of widget maker as you were – or not.

    When I look at the dichotomy of these two situations I am almost speechless. If I don’t participate in the USA Hockey Clinic, take the test and pay to register with the governing bodies I will not be allowed to referee.  But in the workplace there are no mandates of competency.  You do not have to train, and you do not have to test.   The government at the Federal, State and Local Level has all of these mandates on this, that and the other thing. However there are no mandates on competencies for supervisors or managers.  Did not Frederick Taylor espouse this theory about 100 years ago; that there was some science to managing people and processes?

    Bodies of government mandate training for numerous topics but not for management or supervision.  I think this should change.  Companies should be required to demonstrate that anyone who holds the title of manager or supervisor has some demonstrable core competencies in this area.  If not, anyone can have one of these jobs.  Ever had a boss that was clueless and didn’t know the first thing about managing people, or motivating folks? My guess is the answer is yes, somewhere along the line.

    If skill sets must be learned and demonstrated to referee youth hockey, doesn’t it follow that you should have minimal demonstrated and documented abilities to manage people in the workplace, if this is going to be part of your daily work? I think so.

  • Hashtag Hitchhiking – Acceptable or Not

    I have noticed something that has been going on in the twitterverse lately, and I have questions about it.  So in an effort to not be a luker – I have to just ask.

    I have been active on twitter since sometime in 2009, and I have kind of picked up most of the unwritten or unspoken decorum EXCEPT for one thing.  As most of you know who look at my comments, you have an idea of the things I tend to speak about.  And when I do speak to something I attempt to use the appropriate hashtag for the topic, event, location etc. Like another responsible, effective twitter user we share this with one and other.

    The one thing I see that I don’t understand is what I am going to call hashtag-hitchhiking. Let me further explain what I mean. For example let’s say the Consumer Electronics Show was going on inChicago.  To make another assumption let’s say that the hashtag #CES was getting a lot of follows/hits because many folks wanted to know what was going on at the show.  So people who want to know about the show follow that hashtag or perhaps even #Chicago.

    But now lets say I was going to send out a tweet about something about a new blog post on some human resources matter (#HR), but then at the end of my tweet I throw in the hashtag #CES.  It would appear that tweeters to this to gain traffic and follows.

    So my question is this. Is it ok to use non-related hashtags with tweets? – Any thoughts on hashtag-hitchhiking?

  • HR Hates Labor

    Those of us Human Resources hate labor, all the people who perform labor, the organizations that represent labor and all that both parties represent – right?  I can not speak for everyone in HR but I can speak to this myself. And the answer to the question is no; an unequivocal no.

    First let me speak to people side of labor, the people that do the work. These are the men and women who build things, who distribute things, and that process the routine information for companies. To be specific, I am talking about the electricians, the iron workers, the auto workers, and the nurses the bakers or the hotel housekeeping staffs. On a personal level I respect, admire and am thankful that we have these people doing these sometime thankless or unnoticed jobs. Today is their day – so I salute them and you should to!

    As for the labor organizations, I can not say that I hold all of them in the same esteem, which I hold for the people they represent. I have come to respect some labor organizations, which, in my opinion, get it.

    When I look at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and their training program, and the knowledge that they impart into their members, I am truly in awe. The IBEW brings value to their members, and value and quality to the contractors that they supply with electricians. As an aside if you look at their program you will see that it is a collaborative effort between IBEW and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). It seems like these two organization have figured out how to work together and provide mutual benefit to one and other. This is a shining example of success, with organized labor and management working together.

    On the other side of the ledger, part of the charge of a union is to defend its’ members – no matter what.   So, even when the employer has the employee on video tape stealing merchandise, the union must come to their defense. Those of us in HR don’t like this.  No different that a defense attorney, who is pretty sure his client is guilty, their job is to defend them as best they can.  Many in HR get jacked up about this – but it is their job.  Let them do their job, and give them some respect having done so.

    Another thing that some unions do that I find irksome is to make demands that are not based in reality. I have tried to understand or rationalize this a posturing in bargaining but often times it is just an unreasonable demand that can not and will not be met – which will ultimately become another wedge issue for management and labor. More often than not this seems to occur in public bargaining, which is ironic. For the most part public sector bargaining is unique because the funds available to management are usually public record.  So to those entities I would say, you want some more money go find it!

    Another reason for HR to want to hate labor is this – to use a sports metaphor – how the game is being called.  The current administration is trying to use the NRLB to radically change the landscape in labor management relations through administrative channels, as opposed to the legislative process that has been used heretofore. Changes like this are another way that wedges are driven between labor and management, without it being the fault of one side or the other.

    So it isn’t that those of us in HR hate labor, we often find ourselves in a situation where we can not win with labor.  We have to tow the Company line – even if we don’t always agree with it.  Just like the union that has to defend the employee who stole merchandise.

    Today is Labor Day in our country and to that end as I said earlier and it is worth repeating… Today is their day – so let’s salute them and treat them with the respect that they deserve.