• Business Strategies Big and Small

    I had the opportunity to sit on the board of a not-for-profit board, that was based in Peoria, IL. One of the other board members was a gentleman who at the time was the Director of Employee Relations for Caterpillar Inc.   He had a very important job with the quintessential Peoria Company.  He was highly respected by the other board members, and when he talked you could hear a pin drop in the room.

    Chris and I were visiting one day before our board meeting had begun.  We were  talking about some business strategies that Wal-Mart was using at the time, and I recall him say, “While I would not consider what they (Wal-Mart) are doing to be a predatory practice, I could see how they might be called into question for what they were doing.”

    I am a reasonably worldly guy, but I have never worked for a fortune 500 Company.  So even though I am familiar with terms like predatory practice or the Robinson-Patman Act, I have never had to deal with these in my day to day grind in the HR world.

    My Project Social partner Laura Schroder has made reference to me as a trench HR guy who practices every man HR.  While that sounds kind of pedestrian, I would totally agree.  I do a little bit of a lot of things. My employer does not have the resources of a General Electric or Mobil/Exon. We have to operate differently.

    The Company, along with every man HR guy Dave, try to make our shop a good place to work.  We work towards having harmonious realtions with our labor force, some of which is unionized.  We try to provide fair, yet affordable benefits. In general we try to do the right things for the right reasons and hope that we appease most of our employees, enough that they continue to hang around.

    Recently, Laura, who lives and works in the global business community was telling me of an evil strategy that some employers were using (check that out here); to  create the ideal workplace, one where people would want to come and work long-hours, weekends, holidays, forgo their family life – all in an effort to help their employer create larger profits.

    Let me kind of recap here; as a business strategy the employer was going to create a climate where the employee would be so content that they would be lulled into spending every waking hour at work.  Laura said it was rumored to be a happening.

    Hmm… well just like I couldn’t understand how Caterpillar and Wal-Mart see the world, old every man HR Dave can not get my head around how you could  pay someone so much money, make them so happy at work that they would never want to leave, and to have created such a Utopia that the employees basically turn into pods.  Oh and that is a legitimate business strategy?  Sorry I don’t believe for a minute.

    Maybe I should forward this to Jamie and Adam over at Mythbusters to see if they can find our if it is true or not.

    P.S.  Hey HRCI Can I get 1.25 Hours of Strategic credit for this post. I reference strategy several times.







  • Going to the SHRM Big Show

    To quote the Pointer Sisters,  “I’m so Excited and I just can’t stand it.”   I am going to the Big Show in Atlanta – and I am going to be part of the SHRM Social Media Team.

    If you have attended one of the National Conferences, you know what a mammoth event it is, if you have never been, you should do whatever you can to attend the event – really. Charlie Judy says you should go, even if you have to pay your own way. For the record, I agree with Charlie.

    If you have never attended a SHRM National Conference, you can not grasp the largess, the over the topness of the whole event.   It can only be held at a handful of venues, because these venues are among the few in the country that can accommodate the number of attendees (often near 15,000). Flying to the event you will find that probably 25% to 33% of the people on the plane are going to SHRM.  There are dozens of motor coaches contracted to move attendees from hotel to the conference  venue and back. The SHRMies descend upon a city and overtake it.

    What do you get from the conference? It is learning and seeing.  There are countless breakout session covering every HR Topic imaginable, and a few unimaginable.  The HRCI credits abound – even the strategic ones. You also get to see.  On the exhibit floor, it is an HR Carnival on mega-steroids.  There is every product or service that you could conceivably want to purchase on exhibit.  This is not the run of the mill stuff man, this is the cutting edge stuff. The vendors are showing off, trying to get the HR folks jacked up!

    The Networking is unbelievable as well.  And if you are a SHRM member and you are not into networking with your peers – you might want check out your own EAP to see how you can fix that.

    I was looking for video to give you a flavor of the event, and I found a great one from my friend Jennifer McClure.  You know I first met her face to face at a break out session at the 2010 SHRM Conference in San Diego.  Funny how those relationship develop and grow.  Take a look at Jennifer’s video wrap from Las Vegas 2011.

    My 2011 SHRM Annual Conference Experience – from Jennifer McClure

    I hope to see you there in Atlanta!

  • Meeting in Memphis

    Last week my wife, my youngest son and I traveled to Memphis to visit our oldest son on Easter Sunday.  I had artfully carved out a piece of time for myself to do something that was rather self-indulgent.  I had also scheduled to meet-up with a twitter friend, soemone I had met on line, but had not had the chance to meet IRL. We got her done, and and met up with Chris Fields (a.k.a. new_resource on Twitter).  I brought along the wife and both of the boys as well.  So Chris got a chance to see me as I truly am.  Chris had one of his friends drop by and join-up with us as well. As I had suspected, Chris is pretty much the same guy in person that he is on-line.  This is a trait I have found in people that I like and that tend to develop successful on-line realtionships

    After visiting with Chris I got a better understanding of him and who he is. He is passionate about everything he does.  He knows his HR stuff, and while I didn’t quiz him, I learned a lot from the comments he made and some of the questions he asked. Chris is an “A” player when it comes to HR and Social Media.
    I am also happy to talk about another matter that involves the two of us (Austin Powers reference here).  That matter would be Illinois SHRM.  Both Chris and I will be pushing out social media from the August event.   The Social Media Team from Illinois has asked , and Chris has agreed to be part of our Illinois SHRM Social Media team.  So this is to all of my social media pals; now you know a little bit more about @new_resources, and have a reason to come join us at ILSHRM Augsut 6 & 7 in Oak Brook, IL.  Hope to see you there!
  • Losing your Edge

    I returned home late last evening after spending the weekend visiting with my son Kevin at SIU Carbondale. He is a senior and is set to graduate.  My wife and I traveled to him, to do our part in helping him produce a music video for one of the University’s television programs.  This weekend they were shooting most of the segments for what will be about a 2:30 piece.  There were about 20 people involved in this effort on Saturday Night and Sunday.  From what I could see, they each had about 16 hours – so being the labor analyst that I am I see lots of labor in this deal – for 2:30 run time.

    My takeaway from the trip was this.  All of these young folks, the band members and the movie makers are all a little short on one resource or another. But they don’t let that hold them back. They improvise, they create, they re-tool,  they do some fancy editing – but not having the resources does not slow them down. As Jay Kuhns would say, No Excuses!

    I think as we grow older more comfortable or perhaps more complaisant, we get lazy and then we Lose our Edge.  We loose the genius which made us extraordinary because we have so much.  With home or work, it becomes a case of what we don’t have, as opposed to what we do have and how we can make that work.   Is this you?

    Check out these students, all working – pitching in – working for free (no pay – I fixed ’em lunch). Can you bring a group like this together and motivate them to work for free?  Maybe you need to think back to college days when pizza and beer was enough motivation to get you to do anything. These kids were all working hard and enjoying it.

  • Katy Bar the Door

    My blogging buddy Laura and I were having one of eclectic conversations a couple weeks ago and she asked me, what is a hot topic at conferences theses days?  I told her this.  For better than two years I have heard a theory that is routinely espoused by many writers and speakers here in the HR space. I will call this theory the Katy Bar the Door Concept. It centers on this.  HR pros need to prepare for the coming mass Exodus of nearly all of our top talent from our organizations,  when the economy turns around.

    Bar the Door


    As the theory goes, the top talent, and others have hung around your shop because the economy is in such bad shape that nearly everyone is afraid to leave the comfort of a known pay check, regardless of how repressive your workplace is perceived to be.  But, when things take off, watch out boys and girls.


    Well here is my take on the Katy Bar the Door theory.  I am not an economist, but it doesn’t appear that the economy is soon going to turn around and blast off in an upward direction. It will be a gradual transition, if and when the turnaround occurs.  Further,  the economy has been in the doldrums so long the business prospectives on staffing has forever changed.   Companies, Not for Profits,  and even government agencies have all learned how to do more with less.   AND they will never return to those days of bloated staffs where we have staff for everything.  Going forward, we will all be leaner and meaner and that’s the way we business is going to get done now. We will use contingent workers, freelancers to fill in the holes.


    So I do not agree with the KBTD theory and do not think it will come to fruition in catastrophic manner as has been predicted.   But just because your employees will not have an opportunity leave by the bus load does not give your HR department license to treat your staff poorly.  You had still better do your damnedest to keep and engage your top talent, or you might be the one getting shown the door.    That is my take on KBTD,  check out what Laura has to say on the matter at her blog Working Girl.

  • Black History from An Old White Guy

    I am going to stretch my comfort zone today. I am going to write a post that speaks to and honors Black History Month – February.  I was inspired to do so in light of two events which occurred in my life recently. The first is another post, by my friend Buzz Rooney. Buzz too wrote a post for Black History month, If you have not read it I suggest you read it. The other thing that got me thinking about Black History month was this.

    My employer is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. In trying to come up with some clever things to help us celebrate the occasion I searched for what was the popular music of 1932. The top four songs were

    • Night & Day – Fred Astaire & Leo Reisman
    • It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing – Duke Ellington
    • I’ve got the world on a string – Cab Calloway
    • All of Me – Louis Armstrong

    To recap these were the top four song in 1932. In case you don’t know three of these artists are black, and one is not. Oddly enough the songs by Duke, Cab and Louie are still going strong today.

    This got me to thinking about music and 1932, I took a class in college called Jazz Roots and American Culture. This class really made an impact on me (it was also an easy “A”). What I learned is that so much of what we consider American Music, Jazz, the Blues and Rock and Roll is all based on music from predominately black artists.

    They made music in a time when, black musicians or black entertainers, at the clubs, were not allowed to come in the front door. They were made to come in through the kitchen or freight entrances. They were not allow to use the restrooms at the facilities where they performed. But through all of this they continued to practice their craft and make music. This music  has endured well and passed the test of time.

    So unless you exclusively listen to Mozart or Beethoven, you owe a tip of the hat to all of the Black Musicians/recording artisits who helped shaped music as we know it today.

    Perhaps not a great tribute for Black History month, but not bad for an old white guy whose dad was a racists.   And God Bless Whitney Houston.

  • Networking Now and Then

    I will start this post by posing the question, have you ever heard of a piece of software called Sidekick from Borland? Well this was the first application that I used to keep track of contact information. It helped me to keep track of my network. I am not sure those people were even called a network at the time. I also know that I did not work at meeting new people and trying to maintain a real relationship with them. In my early days in business you did business with people in your community, people that you could summon to your place of business. The internet did not exist as we know it today. Networking has changed! Now we network with people around the world, without a second thought. We can communicate with others who do not speak our language through translation software and smart phones.

    Today I really work hard at growing my network, and very much enjoy doing it. Today my network  grows through face to face meetings, on line meetings, phone interactions and via referrals from those already in my network. Then after we meet, it is off to LinkedIn to see if they are out there. If yes, then off goes the connection request. Then there may be a look at twitter and facebook. If I do connect with someone via social media it seems to ramp up the connection faster. Back in the ’80’s I simply did not meet at the same rate that I do today. Life has accelerated.

    Now here is another and new angle on networking, If you are out here in the HR space you may have seen a post from my friend Jay Kuhns – Jay was looking for a key employee. so he wrote a post saying so, and then he found some damn good talent. So this networking can take many paths today. Now, I would like to copy from Jay’s post and do something similar via my network.

    My oldest son Danny’s girlfriend is graduating from Missouri University of Science & Technology with a degree in Business and Management Systems. She wants to move from Rolla, MO to Memphis, TN so that she can be near man Dan. So I thought this would be a new way to use networking, just like Jay had done. Rather than trying to find an employee for an organization, I would try to find an organization for a person. She has done internships and understand processes, logistics and information systems. If you know of something looking for a sharp young graduate in this area; let’s talk.

    I will let you know if I am as good as Jay, in using a blog post to network and create a new employee/employer relationship. Wish me luck,

  • A Czar’s Christmas

    My Project Social partners and me are at it again.  We like to share in each others story-telling (blog posting) call it what you like.  I have written a bit about Christmas around my house.  I am sure that both Laura Schroder and Lyn Hoyt have cooked-up much more interesting holiday stories than have I.  So after you check out Laura’s Christmas Post at Working Girl  and Lynn’s Christmas Post at the HR Bacon Hut, come back and see my intriguing story I will call A Czar’s Christmas.


    My life seems to be falling into somewhat of an annual routine at this stage of my being. For the last time, this year in the late summer I sent a son off to college.  Then it was Labor Day, Birthdays (mine is 10/16 and my wife’s is the next day).  Somewhere in there is a USA Hockey Officials Clinic, the hockey season begins, then there is SHRM Leadership, Thanksgiving and then boom Christmas.  It seems to have rolled this way for about the last 7 years of my life.  It’s not bad; it is just the way it is.

    But the Christmas Holiday is always special, both in what it represents and the family time that it brings.   Only since my sons have left home and gone to college, do I know understand why my dearly departed Father-In-Law so much loved the holiday season.  For many of us it is a chance to gather with family and friends that we seem to see less and less. It’s no ones fault it just happens this way.

    In my time of having children (25 and 22 now) we have done many different things on Christmas, but in the last seven years some of our traditions have begun to develop a little staying power.

    Getting ready to make some juice

    The Chairman of the Board of our Company is an active Rotarian at 80 years +. One of the things they do to raise funds is sell Fresh Florida Citrus (oranges and grapefruits) at the first part of December.  I have always purchased a case or two.  For the last several years the tree-ripened fruit ends up being squeezed into fresh orange juice.  Whatever of that juice is left come Christmas morning is used to make Mimosas after the presents are opened

    Another thing our family does is this. As a family unit, usually on Christmas Eve, we watch Christmas Vacation. You know the show, with Chevy Chaseand Beverly D’Angelo. We all know nearly all of the lines in the movie, yet we still laugh when Clarksays “Eddie if I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpeting I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now!”

    Christmas Day we always manage to catch A Christmas Story at least once or twice on TBS, where we hear a rousing version of Deck the Halls.

    My wife comes from a large family, so many of her siblings end up at our house for an early afternoon Christmas Dinner and gift exchange. I am usually knee deep in cooking by this time and about waste deep in some sort of Christmas Cheer.  I end up being the last to eat, and then start the clean up.  It is noisy there are a lot of people – sometimes near 40.  There is always a lot of trash, following the orgy of gifts. And then – they all leave. Everyone seems to have at least two or three stops on Christmas Day.

    We wind it down at the Ryan house and then we head out for a very special early evening.   The Chairman of the Board of our Company (the Fruit Rotarian) and his wife have for many years now had an open house on Christmas Day.  It is always wonderful. I see people I work with; I see old friends and make new ones, and share great food and Christmas Cheer. We have missed this a few times, when I took the family and bolted to see my relatives who all live in warmer climates.

    So depending upon whether or not the 26th is a work day, kind of drives what time we depart the open house.   But at some point we get back in the car for the five minute ride home, and it’s all over.  The excitement, the expectations, the craziness is all done for another year.

    Next year the Christmas build-up cycle will not begin with sending a kid off to college. Hopefully he will be working.  So if you are in HR and are looking for a sharp young man with a B.A. from SIU in Video/Cinema Mass Communication Major for your organization,(check him out here) just leave me a comment – we’ll talk.

    Merry Christmas!

  • TNL Chicago Wrap-Up

    Last week (12/5/11) I had the pleasure of attending the Talent Net Live (TNL) Recruiting Conference in Chicago (Aurora to be specific).  This was a most interesting experience for me personally.  While I am a well travel HR/SHRM conference attendee, this was actually the first full-blown recruiting conference that I have ever attended.

    In most if not all  organizations, Recruiting is part of HR.  Part of what I do in my day job is recruiting, but I do not do it exclusively. Most of the people in attendance are recruiters and that i s all they do.  So suffice it to say I was somewhat out of my element, a little uncomfortalbe , because they all swam in the same pond and I don’t swim there.  I was on the inside but still felt like I was an outsider looking in from the outside. To be clear, all of the problem was in my head.  I was treated really well by conference organizaer Craig Fisher and his entire TNL Crew.

    The entire event was about recruiting, how to do it better, tricks from pros in the field, the latest and greatest tech tools as well as several sessions on Talent Communities.  Do you really know what this is?  I had a cursory idea before attending this event.  Now I have good handle on the concept – and I think it is a most interesting concept.  My grotesque oversimplification is this.  Find people that want to be in your organization,  engage them through any means, stay in touch follow-up with them and place them in your Company when you find a match (an open position they want and one the Company feels they are capable of performing).  To me it sounds –  a little wacky – but I get it and could easily see how it works.  All of the costs are up front and your time to fill goes way down if you have people cued up waiting for a vacancy.

    Joel Cheeseman talking mobile at TNL Chicago

    Another matter that got a lot of attention at the conference was mobile.  The whole world is going mobile. And if you are in the business of recruiting employees, you had better have an app for that – and it better be mobile.  Not just a klunky phone sized version of your web page.  The recruiting app needs to be taylored, tweeked and tuned in for mobile.   I attended an excellent session on this with Mobile Social Media Guru Joel Cheeseman.  Joel taught me this; mobile apps go up and down not side to side and they have big buttons.  That is great information.

    Another thing I learned is recruiting is moving heavily toward video.  The fact that the even was at JSTN speaks volumes.  JSTN is going to revolutionize the way video is used in recruiting.  Take that to the bank folks.

    There were a couple more concepts coming out of the conference that were new to me.  The first was metrics.  Recruiter have a whole set of their very own metrics.  No Voodoo or anything here, just serious straight up definable, measurable metrics.  I am a better HR person for learning more about the metrics this gang uses.

    One more thing I got out of the event was some great software tool tips.  There were session titled Cool Tools and Pimp My Profile.  There were probably two dozen software applications I heard discussed.  Most of them are on the internet and have a free version available on the internet.  Most of them also have a super-charged pay version/upgrade that is available.  But I learned these recruiters are a frugal lot and are not interested in paying for things they can get for free.

    I learned more at this one day event than I have at many multi-day events.  This event was the first thing that TNL has done outside of their own backyard in Texas.  My understanding is that there will be more of these one day recruiting events around the country.  I HIGHLY recommend that you attend if you have the chance.  The conference fees are most reasonable (remember I told you these recruiters are a frugal lot).  Conference organizer Craig Fisher is well known in the HR and Recruiting space, accordingly his speaker line up will consist of thought leaders  and well known names in the industry.  And given the size of the event you can meet, connect and network with all of these folks.

    If TNL gets back here to the Mid-West look for me to help them promote their events.  They have good stuff to offer. Also look for me to attend – because the content is guaranteed to be  good stuff  – and it doesn’t cost an arm and leg to attend.

  • Meet Chester and Amanda – I Did

    Me. Chester Elton and Amanda Hogue

    While it has been in the bag for more than a week, I am still referring back to the recently completed SHRM Leadership Conference to talk about things that went on at the event.  I was particularly looking forward to the last breakout session of the day.   I was attending a session put on by Chester Elton on Team Building.  I had just met Chester at lunch and found out he was the writing partner of another author I had seen speak a couple of years earlier. Chester and his partner Adrian are the Carrot Culture – Think Orange guys.  I highly recommend their books.

    In waiting to hear Chester get underway, I sat in obscurity along the wall (close to an outlet) so I could cabbage on to some electricity for

    John Jorgensen, Amanda Hogue and Steve Browne

    my gadgets.  A  young man and young lady walked into the room  and sat down in the row in front of me.  The young lady turned around and smiled at me and said hello, then turned forward.  In about 5 seconds she turned back around and said in a confirmatory fashion – “You’re the HR Czar?”  I smiled and said “Yes.”    She told me her name was Amanda Hougue  and that she was HRAmanda on Twitter.  Bingo, the twitter handle gave her away, and then I made the connection.

    She was so cute, funny and energetic, she was genuinely excited to meet me.  So to some degree, or at least in this instance I had reached the status of micro-celebrity stardom, for a day, or an hour, or a minute perhaps.  I look3d at her profile to see that she had not been on twitter too long and so I understood the way she was feeling.    I too have met folks in real life, that I had first met on line and I was truly jazzed to do so. It’ s fun!

    Now the rest of the session was just an enjoyable.  Chester killed it talking about Teams.  After the session, people were coming in from the next room and asked what went on in here, it sounds like you guys had a blast – we did.  Amanda and I tweeted each other from row to row.  We tweeted to the conference and the world that #ChesterElton was rocking the house at #SHRMLead.  When the session wrapped up Amanda and I were lucky enough to get a picture with Chester, before he had to run off and sign books.

    I ran into Amanda later and she got to meet a couple of my buddies and now her new friends John Jorgensen and Steve Browne. Us folks in Human Resources are a pretty cool bunch – don’t ya think?

  • I Have been out of the Office

    I have been in and out of the office a bunch this year.  Every time I get back into

    Photo Credit Eric Chaump at Professional Diversification

    the office I am consumed with the feeling of being overwhelmed.  I think  you know what I am talking about.  I feel compelled to get to the accumulated pile of stuff that built up while I was out.  But then here come the events of the day.

    People and pending matters are pulling you in 14 different direction and since you have been gone, a number of folks want your ear.

    When you step back, you see that you have 42 Voice Mails, a four inch pile of U.S. Mail and probably a bazillion email messages, right?  Well I have formulated a plan to deal with all of this efficiently and quickly.

    Voice Mail – DELETE ALL

    Email – DELETE ALL

    U.S. Mail – the whole pile right into the trash


    Now in the aftermath of the purging there will be a few calls like this.  Dave – did you get that email I sent you about our proposal?    Most people make the assumption that if they sent it you got it. This is not always the case.  That is your cover.

    Your response is like this.  Well Bob they were having some sever problems while I was out of the office ; could you re-send it?  The same thing applies to any VMail or U.S. Mail.  You may have sent it but I didn’t get it.  Could you re-send?

    See this allows you to get to the really important stuff without wading thought the piles.

    Now I know very few responsible adults who would do this. In fact I have only thought about doing it – but it does sound tempting, doesn’t it?

    Oh well I need to get back to my out of the office mess!

  • 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.


  • 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?

  • Will one Tragedy lead to Others?

    Last Saturday night something awful happened here in the mid-west.  Just in case you missed this,

    The Indiana State Fair Tragedy

    a storm blew in to the Indiana State Fair.  There was  a significant burst of wind on the leading edge of the storm, which lead to the stage rigging falling down and sadly killed 5 people. Once this occurred, I already conceived the aftermath and some of what will transpire as a result of this event.

    First is the lawsuits.  By the time I get this posted I would bet $100 that there is at least one suit filed. The facts aren’t even in yet but damn it, we have litigation going..

    How could this happen? The hue and cry of those who will need someone’s head on a platter.  It will be someone like the State Fair Manager, someone from the National Weather Service, the sub-contractor who erected the rigging – take your pick; someone will be hung out to dry.

    The naming of a memorial.  While this is probably fitting to those who lost their lives, nonetheless, it is oh so predictable.

    And lastly the thing, which in my mind will be the most abhorrent.  There will be legislative investigations/ witch hunts.  Then there will be the new OSHA standard on stage rigging. It will speak to the size of the metal, the thickness of the guide-wires needed,  the number of bolts and supports needed,  training requirements, and then shutdown guidelines (e.g. if severe weather is forecast no one can be within 2000 feet of the stage.)  It will happen.

    Now,I  know I am being a little callous here but I can see all of this happening.  It was a tragic accident and I have the utmost sympathy for those who lost loved ones.  However let’s not let this event be the ruination of outdoor events or drive the cost of tickets up another $100 per show.


  • HIPPA It’s the new FMLA

    Chances are pretty good that if you are reading this you have an idea of what HIPPA is all about.  I doubt that few of you could quote the regs on it, but for the most part the concept is this.   Employers, Insurers, TPAs, Medical Providers; anyone with knowledge of a protected health information (PHI) is not supposed to discuss it with anyone else, without that person’s permission.  That’s my short take on it.

    In my mind, I understand what the legislative intent of the law.  As a society, we didn’t want employees to be denied a job or benefits bases

    Photo credit www.tech-faq.com

    on knowledge of a medical condition.  We did not want insurer to be able to deny coverage to someone or a group, based upon what they might know about their medical history. I get that and I agree with idea. But one of the realities of HIPPA is that most medical providers have taken this concept of individual privacy to an asinine level.

    With in the last two years, I have been contacted by medical providers who wanted information about my wife or two sons (both over 18).  Yesterday I was contacted by an on-demand medical clinic inGlendale,CA.  They were calling here to speak to my son (who is doing a college internship in LA.)  While the home number was listed as the contact number on insurance, he is not obviously here.   I answered the phone, which show Glendal Urgen on the caller ID.  The caller says, “can I speak to Kevin.”   I said he is not here, in fact he is inCalifornia.  The caller says – “I need to get in touch with him?”

    So then in my own smart-alec way I said – “Who are you and why do you want to talk to him?”  My caller then became a little more open now and told me that she was with the clinic and needed to speak to him about some test results.    I then told the caller, I was his father and could provide her with his cell phone number so that she could contact him.  I then asked her if she could share with me what she was going to tell him.  My wife and I knew he was going to have some tests run.  As parents we were concerned and would like to have known the results.

    Of course, her response was the obligatory spiel about not being able to share privileged health information.  I didn’t argue with her, I provided her the number and let her contact my son.  I wanted to engage her but I didn’t.

    I was thinking, I brought this kid into the world, I changed his diapers and I am still paying for his college, and I will be paying your damn bill – but you can’t share the test results, because some lawyer has told your practice to not ever tell anyone anything and you will be protected.

    Perhaps I should have told the caller that I was Kevin, and asked her to give the test results.  Then when she did,  my son Kevin could have filed suit against the clinic.  Would he win?  I doubt it. So in the end it would have been ok for me to know.

    This is why HR people get jacked up about new laws and regulations.  They always become something they were never intended to be.  Have you ever heard of FMLA?


  • Diversity Made Simple

    Diversity seems to keep coming up on my radar these last few weeks. I am not sure what that means. I was speaking with one or my #ProjectSocial (What’s up with that Ben/Victorio ?) partners Laura Schroeder about this matter in one of our Skype conversations.  I asked Laura to give me her take on the big “D”. After a few minutes we  decided to just write about the matter.  If you would like to know what she had to say about it head on over to her Working Girl blog and check it out, and you can find out Lyn Hoyt’s take on it over at her blog the HR Bacon Hut.

    Photo Credit David Sihombing

    In the meantime, I am left to collect my thoughts about Diversity. For some reason my default thought is always Race, Religion and Gender, when someone first speaks the “D” word.  Well I have learned enough in my 50+ years, to know that may well be a small portion of the issue but it ain’t the whole enchilada.

    Diversity has seemed to grow and change over the years. It is as if Diversity has become more diverse!

    When I hear the experts pontificate on the matter,  I hear the stories of how our workplace cultures need to have more diversity in generations, sexual orientation, thought, income levels, where we make our homes, or attended college, not to mention, race, religion and gender, all of which makes good sense – call it organizational balance.  But how does an organization achieve this lofty goal.

    I know how the EEOC wants us to achieve the necessary diversity an employer must maintain to be a Federal contractor, but I am curious as to how to achieve and measure the more squishy aspects of diversity.   I also know what I need to do, in my mind, to ensure our organization is welcoming of others; people who may think, speak,  or view things differently that the majority of the people in our organization.  However ultimately I guess I can’t put a percentage on it.

    While global organizations can take on Diversity with a big stick and a big check, the smaller organizations are left to try to do the right thing with the resources and knowledge that they have available to them.  Sadly sometimes there are few resources and even less knowledge about diversity.

    The one concept I find myself relying upon is something that I learned many years ago in this arena.

    It is unlikely that your organization has made any efforts to exclude anyone or group, BUT have you made a real effort to include people who are different?

    If you can answer yes to that question you are probably in pretty good shape – and forget the numbers.


  • Back from the West Coast

    I recently returned from a trip to Los Angeles to visit my college age son who is doing an internship in Hollywood this summer.  L.A. is a lot different than the Mid-West, where I hail from.   So, on my journey I learned some things about life on the West Coast. I wanted to share them…

  • Parking is precious
  • All men should wear earrings – (2)
  • It is legal, although not safe for motorcyclists to ride in-between cars without a lane
  • Men only need shave every 9 to 12 days
  • When men meet other men, a right should to right should bump is required along with a ½ 1- armed hug
  • The weather is always nice
  • Most everything is a lot more expensive than in the Mid-West
  • The air quality ranges from ok to poor
  • Sushi is as popular as burgers
  • Drive a comfortable auto – you will spend a lot of time in it
  • Have a good sound system in your auto – you will spend a lot of time in it
  • Travel times can vary for a 10 mile trip from 15 minutes to 2 hours – plan on spending a lot of time in your auto
  • There must be a shortage of lingerie shops through out the country as Hollywood has far too many
  • If you have any West Coast insights, please share them with me in the comments.


  • You Can’t Fire Everyone

    Last week I was not quite home, as it was  go time for HR Happy Hour.  So I thought no problem I will just call in on my cell phone and catch the start of the show that way.  Shortly thereafter, I found myself speaking to the show’s host Steve Boese.  Steve was missing his guest, and checking the phone lines for him.  A few moments later, I found myself along with Dawn Hrdlica-Burke (on twitter @DawnHRRocks ) as what Steve referred to as conscripted guests.

    So in true live broadcaster fashion Steve charged ahead with the show and tossed a few question at Dawn and me, that he was going to ask his guest Hank Gilman.   Hank has authored a book called You Can’t Fire Everyone.  You can catch the show here if you like.

    Now during the course of our conversation Steve asked Dawn and me both about “top talent”

    Photo from PresentationProcess.com

    and how we treat them.  I kind of downplayed top performers saying  that I didn’t want to rock the boat too much.  Dawn on the other hand said she wanted a whole organization full of rock stars.  Dawn is in the software business and I am in manufacturing.  After reflecting on our comments and where they came from, I had somewhat of an epiphany about this. Compared to Dawn I am practicing defensive HR  (not unlike defensive medicine).  Dawn is seeking all the rock stars she can get, me not so much.

    Dawn is more than willing to deal with the difficulties that the rock star may bring her, in return for their rock star performance and talent.  Me, I am trying to keep peace in the house.  As I thought about this, it became clear to me that what I am doing is maintaining the status quo.

    Rather than leading with bold innovation and pushing the envelope, I don’t stray too far from the known path. I don’t take outlandish risk.  However it is with outlandish risk come outrageous gains.   The great equalizer here is this, if one goes too far out on a limb and things don’t work out, you may find yourself in a very precarious employment situation, depending upon how your superiors views your actions.  Said another ways does your boss think you are being reckless or innovative?  In many instance this will speak to who is willing to take risk and who is not.

    As I look at the industry comparison, those of us in manufacturing are into replication, while those in software are always looking for innovation.

    I am not sure what all of this means.  I am going to look real hard and my prospective here and see if I can force myself to live a little closer to the edge.  So I owe Steve and Dawn a big thanks for helping me to see this.


  • You’re Injured – Need A Doctor or A Lawyer?

    I was waiting on my car the other day at the car dealership and was somewhat looking at the television which was playing away.  Then on comes a commercial about talking about hip replacement and the procedure itself, pretty much going down a path of what I perceived to be medical problems.  Then the announcer makes reference to a certain manufacturer of replacement hips, and says “if you have pain from this or have had this procedure done with this type of hip call this law office.”

    Now this really made me think… you are hurt or hurting so you should call a lawyer.  Shouldn’t you be calling a doctor? Or shouldn’t the commercial say, “ If you have had this hip replacement done with this type of hip call this law office and we will try to get you some money from the surgeon, the hospital, and the manufacturer of the replacement hip?”

    The Federal Trade commission is taking others like manufacturers, processors and retailers for their truth in advertisements.  Should not lawyers be held to the same standard?

    I agree that if someone has been wronged they should have an avenue to right the wrong.  It just doesn’t seem feasible that every wrong is compensable.

    Given my advance age now, although it is difficult BUT I can still remember the time when lawyers were not allowed to, or did not – for whatever reason advertise on television. Sometime in 1977 the Supreme Court cleared the way for lawyers to advertise on television.  So then we saw commercials of lawyers walking out of crumbling buildings or showing up on the scene of a horrific auto accident.  While the ads may vary in tone and content, I still find them to be annoying at best and disturbing at worst.  They all seem to boil down to a tag line of, “Call me, we’ll sue someone.”

    Maybe we should change the rules, and go back to a time when the only ads lawyers had were in the Yellow Pages – aw hell, you can hardly find Yellow Pages now.

  • On Site At HREvolution 2011

    My flight arrived in Atlanta on time.  MARTA was simple, cheap, easy and safe.  I walked in the door at the hotel to be greeted by Ben Eubanks, Trish Mc Farmland, Robin Schooling and Crystal Peterson.  Even though I arrived early at the hotel my 21st floor room (same floor as the Presidential Suite – thanks Trish) was ready early – got checked in and the madness has begun.

    We attended a lunch sponsored by People Matter  and heard about their software.  It was a good lunch and good overview of their product.  They are sponsoring the tweet up tonight, so we’ll get real cozy with these folks.  The rooms are great with flat screens.  The only down side is it is a Marriott (expensive rooms), and with expensive rooms comes Un-Free internet – $14.95 a day to be exact.  I don’t get that at the $89 a night hotels it is free – huh?

    So I am getting all charged up for the tweet up. No literally, my phone, my camera, my video camera, my external power supply for my phone – and next me – maybe a short nap.

    It is GREAT to see all of the HRevolution peeps.  Many I know, some I don’t but I am making friend with them all.  Question to me…Hmm are all of these people thought leaders?

    Ok so for now that it – more later!  Some pics here