• SHRM Atlanta Takeaways

    The exhibit hall at SHRM ATL 13

    The exhibit hall at SHRM ATL 13

    I have been back from the SHRM Atlanta conference for a couple of days now and had a chance to gather my thoughts about the event. First and foremost I would like to thank the Board of SHRM Atlanta for putting on a superb event.  It all worked;  the hotel, the meeting rooms, the exhibit hall, lunch and the tweet-up.

    There were a number of familiar faces on-site, all smiling and enjoying themselves.  It was particularly nice to run into Joe Gerstandt and Jason Lauritsen, who apparently brought down the house with their opening keynote address.  Unfortunately, I did not arrive in time to catch them. Those of us in Illinois hold Talent Anarchy in high regard.

    One thing that did jump out to me about this conference was that there was really no regionality to the event.  Any of the Atlanta sessions would have worked just as well in Albuquerque or Anchorage.  This tells me HR shares the same issues no matter where you are in the country – and probably in North America.

    Some other things that I noticed at the event were that HR folks in Hotlanta dress nicer than those in the Mid-West. Many, if not most, of the men had on coats – yeah sport coats or suits.  The women – many dresses.  I told one of my friends Deborah Herman, I expected to hear ZZ Top bust out into Sharp Dressed Man at some point.  This actually was a nice departure from what I have become used to.

    I was somewhat surprised at the continued lack of adoption of twitter by HR Pros.  I took  a look at Tweet Reach and only found 707 tweets for the event. (Although I do not know what that time frame represents.)  There were a number of the social media luminaries there, but overall I really didn’t feel the twitter big buzz.  Nonetheless, Jim Stroud and Teela Jackson took it upon themselves to do some heavy lifting on  the twitter stream for the conference.

    Probably the most interesting thing I encountered in the exhibit hall was a booth selling Pet Insurance as an employee voluntary benefit. VPI Pet had two representatives on site and they were working the crowd very well.

    I did get to attend a few sessions (so I could grab some of those old HRCI re-cert credits).  I caught the end of Joe Gerstandt doing “No, Great Minds Do NOT think Alike.”  Joe gets an A+.  I also caught Beth Miller speaking on Multi-Generational Management.  I give her a B+.  She needed to have her twitter handle out there so folks could mention her in their tweets.  And the only other session I attended was one that Teela Jackson commanded me to attend (not really).  Jennifer Mc Clure did an encore presentation of her program “From HR Leader to Business Leader.”   Her room filled up early, and there was simply no place left for anyone to sit.  So the ever gracious Jennifer did it again. A+

    Julie and I getting ready

    Then capping off the day were the last break out sessions at 3 PM on day two of the conference.  This was my reason for being there. I, along with my co-presenter Julie Moreland Senior VP from PeopleClues presented, as advertised, a highly interactive session, on HR Thinking Creatively.  I would like to thank Julie and People Clues for giving me the opportunity to work with them.  I would really also like to thank the 30 or so people who stuck around and joined in our session. It was an excellent group – diehards; each and every one of them. I do need to call a few of the folks out by name – Deborah Herman, Chris Havrilla, Lisa Watson and especially my friend Mike Haberman.  They all stuck with us, and Mike was gracious enough to talk about our presentation in one of his blog posts on SHRM ATL.  SHRM Atlanta ’13 was great experience for me. I got to visit with and make some new friends, meet up with some old friends, and I was a presenter at an awesome conference – a pretty good way to spend a couple of days out of  the office.

  • SHRM Atlanta Bound

    SHRM-ATL LogoSaturday April 27th, 2013.  –  SHRM Atlanta begins on Monday morning April 29th.  I have attended and participated in my share of HR events, most of them in the Mid-West. On Monday I am off to a different region, to look at conference from a little different prospective.   I will be a Mid-Westerner in the South, and I will a speaker at one of the break out session.

    Fortunately for me, I am not flying solo, I will be presenting with the Uber-Talented  Julie Morelandfrom People Clues. Julie and I are leading an interactive session entitled HR Thinking Creatively.   This is going to be an intensely interactive session, so much, that I imagine (although I hope not) we may chase a few folks out at the opening.  The session takes place at 3 PM, and is the last of the day, as well as the last of the conference.  The challenge is on,  but I am confident we will bring home the goods!

    Past all of this, I am stoked to attend the event.  My twitter buddy Teela Jackson is one of the main conference organizers, and the President Elect of SHRM-ATL.  Teela tops the list of people I want to visit.  However, I must comment, as I reviewed the agenda I have discovered this is in-fact a varitable whose-who of peeps who will presenting at the event – below are  just the ones I know (and I am honored to be among them.)

    Jennifer Mc Clure | Matt Charney | Joe Gerstandt | Jason Lauritsen | Eric Winegardner | William Tincup | Daniel Crosby | Chris Hoyt

    I will no doubt have some tweets, some Facebook posts, and probably a blog post or two from the event.  So it’s off to Hartsfield- Jackson.



  • No Longer in Denial

    Hooray!  I am no longer in denial – as I heard it put by an HR speaker recently. She asked the group – have many of your organizations have an Affirmative Action Plan – and how many of you are still in denial?  Me and my Company are now in compliance with 41 CFR 60.  With the help of a good friend of mine, who is in the HR Consulting business and has written a number of these plans, we are now fully compliant. Yes, we do have an Affirmative Action Plan.

    AAP Image

    Knowing what I know now, I think that actually was the easy part – writing and putting the plan in place.  Now comes the really tough stuff like:

    • Actually trying to find and hire the individuals to help us meet our AAP goals
    • Getting “real” buy-in from department and hiring managers (translations not letting them think this is another BS HR program)
    • Figuring out how to get applicants to voluntarily comply with my requests to provide data
    • Planning for what year two of the plan will bring.

    While it is refreshing to know that if someone from  OFCCP drops in to see me I can proudly tell them, “Yep I have one, do you want to see it.”   Or when anyone from our sales department emails me ans sends me a document about being a Federal Contract and then asks, “What the hell is this all about?”

    I also got  a lot of help and support from my friends over at People Clues.   The system upgrades they have made have allowed me and others to collect the needed information without having to do much, other than open an Excel spreadsheet with a csv file.  This was an awesome fix to my issue.  It works so well  because we have adopted the philosophy that ALL applicants must apply on-line.  This tactic leaves no holes in our data.

    I am still new to this affirmative action stuff but me and my Company are making progress.  There is much to learn and much to accomplish. I would love to swap war stories with anyone who has gone down this path — and learned a few things along the way.



  • People Clues Dashboard ATS – My Experience

    This post was originally written to be published in a magazine, but was viewed as an advertisement, and summarily rejected.  I had this nice 1500 word essay on my removal of one ATS and the installation of a new one.  The essay is very favorable toward People Clues.  I like their product very much and don’t mind telling the rest of the world that.  So if you would like to learn about People Clues and their new Dashboard super-light ATS have a go at this post.

    I have been in Human Resources for a number of years now.  One thing I have a firm grasp on now is this concept.  There is a software application for any task that you want to perform.  These days, most of them exist in the cloud. Depending upon the size or type of business that you are in, you may already have all of these bases covered.

    You may think that you do have all of your bases covered, but do you?  Are you getting the best value for your dollar?  Does each of your applications do what you want it to?  Does it do more than you need it to do? Does the application truly fit your needs?  To know the answer to these questions, you need to look at all of your software applications objectively and see if they fit your needs.  The level of integration between the package or packages is also an important consideration.

    About 18 months ago, I found myself needing to re-evaluate my Company’s software needs in regards to several applications. At the time, we were using an integrated Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and Performance Management System. To be specific, the application was Taleo Business Edition.  My Company had used the ATS for nearly two years and the Performance Management for about a year.

    Over time, what we learned about the product was the software was very feature rich and robust and hugely customizable. However, said another way, the software was complicated, not very intuitive and somewhat difficult to navigate.  This made user adoption most difficult. That combined with what I will call sub-standard customer service, collectively drove me to look for other applications to accomplish the tasks at hand.

    This put me in the market for an ATS system and a Performance Management System. I don’t really know how this task works in other organizations, only mine.  Within our Company, the process does not involve consultants or outsiders who are paid well to come in and share their knowledge.  The way it goes is, I spend a bunch of time with Google finding out what applications are out there, figuring out which ones are market leaders and then learning which applications are affordable.

    After figuring out which applications I wanted to take a serious look at, I contacted the vendors and set up on-line demonstrations.  Some companies are willing to show up at your door, or send a re-seller, but almost all of them will deal direct with a customer and do the on-line demonstration. I opted for the on-line demonstration.  Each of the demonstrations took only an hour or two.  Following the demonstrations, all (they were all cloud based) of the vendors I reviewed gave me access to their live application for one week to a month.  This is a great way to get a real understanding for the feel and ease of use of each of the applications.  Furthermore, if you set things up in the application, when you make a purchase and go live, you will keep any of the work that you have done.

    In total, I looked at four (each) ATS Systems and Performance Management systems.  Integration of the two was not hugely important to me. At the outset, I felt, given the size of our organization, I could easily use them independently, and did not perceive a great deal of value in integration.

    So, to cut to the chase, here is what happened: For the performance management side of the equation, I did not end up purchasing any applications.  Everything I liked was either too feature rich or cost too much. Our Company is not as advanced in terms of performance management as we should be (in my opinion), so I did not see the need to buy anything. Instead, I built a series of Google Docs spreadsheet forms and templates to use to gather this information.  While this solution is not the be all end all, minimally, I am getting the task of gathering data and doing performance reviews completed. Additionally, I am getting some great analysis from Google on the back side that I did not even know existed.  In the graph pictured here, the spreadsheet looks at your data and then creates counts, percentages and graphs visually presenting your information, with no set up. It is most intuitive.

    That is how I solved my Performance Management issue.  In terms of Applicant Tracking Systems, I went a little different direction.  Again, after looking at various cloud ATS Systems, I went for a relatively new player in the game, for a different reason.  As I mentioned, I did not buy a performance management application.  In not doing so, I guess you could say I left a little money in the bank.  While looking at ATS system, I did learn of a software integration that is fairly important.  This one had to do with behavioral assessments, job placement testing and the ATS.   If you want to do any type of any assessments, it is nice to integrate them with your other applicant data.  You don’t have to, but it cuts way down on the sorting and searching.  Ultimately, I chose this option.

    When I set out to look for a new ATS, I was not necessarily looking to do behavioral assessments and job placement testing.  But when I found out I could get this for a reasonable fee (in my opinion), I was thrilled to give this a try.  The Company I ended up selecting is called PeopleClues.

    PeopleClues has a relatively new super-lite ATS system they simply called the Dashboard.  It allows employers to collect behavioral assessment data, employee engagement data, and job criteria about an applicant and store it with the applicant’s online profile.   I did not see that feature simply or well-executed in other applications.  Like all of the others, I was allowed to test drive PeopleClues for a reasonable period of time. Any software vendor should let you do this or they do not believe in their product (in my opinion).  Not only did I like the application, so did my co-workers.  If you recall in my earlier efforts, I learned this lesson. Easy to use software equals easy adoption and easier implementation.

    While the PeopleClues Dashboard is a simple to use product, some might argue that it almost lacks in features.  Personally, I can think of a number of things I would like to see the package do that it currently does not do.   However, none of those are deal-breakers for me.  The PeopleClues staff has listened to my wish list.  They have reported back to me that my suggestions have been offered up by others, and that most of them are in the works and will be out with the next major revision of the product.

    Probably the best thing about the product is that there is virtually no set-up or implementation.  Everything that you need to use it is online.  I literally had it up and running in about 15 minutes.  The phone support is great as well. While I am reasonably talented with software and internet services, I am not a programmer, coder or IT guy, but I was also able to integrate PeopleClues with our website without much thought or worry.

    The jobs postings are created in PeopleClues, and that is where the center of the operations for the job postings and assessments is located.  So when applicants go to my Company’s website, all I need to do is point them to the PeopleClues site, via a URL that is generated when you create the job posting. So what I is create the message on my Company’s website and put the link under the text “click here to apply”.  The same thing applies for other sites like Monster or Career Builder.  The big job boards give you a place to put an email address or a URL.  I just paste the PeopleClues URL in the appropriate box and my Company’s job posting is done.  I don’t need an HTML programmer or an IT guy.  It is that simple. I would highly recommend the PeopleClues system to anyone who is looking for a super-lite ATS system.  Compared to other products on the market, the pricing is at the mid to low end of the spectrum.

    So, you get that I am a fan of this product.  I am also a huge fan of cloud applications in general.  When you use a cloud-based application, whether for applicant tracking, of performance management, or any other application, I see the advantages being huge.

    • No Server Space Needed
    • No installations/Server or workstation
    • No upgrades
    • The systems are accessible anywhere
    • Security issues are handled by the vendor

    I would be happy to share what I have learned with any my fellow HR folks.  Please get in touch with me and we can talk further.