I have just wrapped up my meeting of the Secret Society of SHRM State Leaders (#SSOSSL).  Many of you who have been involved with SHRM at different levels are familiar with this meeting – even if you did not know the name of the group. This is the meeting where State Directors and Directors’ Elect jet off to some exotic and usually warm destination in the first quarter of the year and huddle. (FYI not really the name of the group even if you thought that.)

Rumor was the meeting was going to cease, and then apparently there was some mass uprising (again, not really) –let’s go with concern that the meeting had significant value and that if the meeting were scuttled it could be problematic.  So apparently the powers that be at Duke Street listened and decided to continue with the meeting, which is now called a business meeting.  It is called a business meeting because there are no keynote speakers, no guest speaker sessions, just sessions on how to run our State Councils, and this year the SHRM Certification was also on the agenda (there is still more work to do here).

 


So what is the purpose to the meeting, you might want to know – as I did?  Why spend a bunch of money flying people from all over the country to get together and talk about what they do? One could take the cynical approach and say that it is just a junket and a payback to those who volunteer at the highest level. While I think that may be a small piece of the equation, in my opinion that certainly is not the main reason.

To the best of my recollection we had people from 48 states and Guam in attendance (all part of the 280,000 members).  In terms of priorities I am not sure which is first or last but here is a lot of what was going on in my view.

  • The Directors and the Directors’ Elect got to meet (face to face) one and other
  • Ideas/Best Practices were shared between all states
  • SHRM staff spent a great deal of time asking questions and soliciting responses TRULY wanting to hear our opinions on specific issues
  • The SHRM Mission is reaffirmed and clarified
  • The SHRM Staff gets an opportunity to meet and assess their Directors’ & DEs
  • Bonds and friendships are built through planned and spontaneous activities
  • It gets everyone excited to hold the role that they are and jazzed up for when they head home

So as the new incoming Director I am looking at this and attempting to put the value proposition to this.  What is each of these items worth to my state council?   After considerable contemplation I am pretty much stumped, to come up with a hard dollar value.

However, I am not naive enough to think that there is not value in this, it is just hard to measure in tangible dollars.  Had we not had this meeting what would we have lost?

This reminds me of an HR parallel.  If your organization has a really effective safety program and you rarely if ever have accidents – how much money did you save by not having any accidents?  In this instance, how do you measure the cost of things that never happen?  It is unknown, in fact, never to be known.

Another unknown I have always likened this to, is advertising.  I once asked a friend of mine who is in the car business why they spend so much on advertising. He said, “To help sell cars.”   Looking for a number I asked him how they measured that?  He said this, “when we spend less on advertising we sell fewer cars.”  That’s about as specific as he could get.  So to some degree it is a leap of faith.

So to bring this back to our meeting, as the Director Elect I will be mindful of my opportunity to attend this even, and try to keep a record of the benefits of having attended this (let’s hope the list isn’t too short).  I will re-visit this issue next year at this time, as I prepare to head to Dallas for the 2016 version of the meeting.

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Lastly this is more on a personal level, but I need to put this out there.  For anyone who has been around SHRM, you have seen Steve Browne move up and through the organization at every level. This year is Steve’s final year on the MAC.  By rule, and we know us HR peeps are all about rules, Steve will be done with that role this year.   What will happen then…(to be continued)