One of many things that SHRM does well is to try to evaluate the services it provides to its members. So I wasn’t surprised that SHRM sent me an invitation to evaluate my experience at this year’s Annual Conference in Atlanta. And I tried to be honest. But really, how do you give feedback to an organization that executes its biggest event so well – year in and year out?
But I’ve been thinking about the question that asked what I would recommend for future Annual Conferences. I gave a quick answer. And I’ve been thinking about it more and I’d like to expand on my answer.
I suggest having a series of sessions called “A Day in the Life of…” When I answered the question I was specific: engage one of the CHROs in the Fortune 100 to describe what their job and life are really like as an example for emerging HR leaders to see. We don’t see many CHROs on any stage at SHRM. I understand all the reasons why we don’t see them, but I think SHRM needs to try harder. Presenting a role model in the flesh would be high impact.
But as I’ve been thinking about it, why not also have sessions with CHROs from a privately held company with 5,000 employees, from a public company with 25,000 employees, from a large education institution, from a think tank, from a large national non-profit, and from a pre-IPO tech start-up? Not a panel discussion. A session by each of them, individually.
Not everyone in HR wants to be the CHRO of GE, but some do. Not everyone in HR wants to be the CHRO in a privately-held company, but some do. Show them what it’s like. Show them what it takes to get there – and stay there.
And then I thought, well, how about other functions? What’s it like to be the Chief Marketing Officer in the Fortune 100 – and what do they think about and want from HR?
How about a day in the life of the CFO of a global public retailer – and what they think about and want from HR?
How about the Chief Information Officer at a large privately-held technology company?
And how about the head of Total Rewards in a Fortune 250 company – how did they get there?
The head of Talent Acquisition in a Fortune 500 company – how did they get there?
The Chief Learning Officer in a global hospitality company – how did they get there?
You get my drift. A series of “A Day in Life of…” would put real leaders on the podium to share what works for them and what doesn’t work for them. How they got there and what they’d do over again and what they would skip. And from everyone: what advice for emerging or aspiring HR leaders.
Not only would this be interesting for intentional HR professionals, it would be helpful for those who got here by accident and aren’t sure where to go, whether or not to stay, and what is possible. Holding successful HR (and other) leaders up for conference attendees to hear from and get coaching from might be the next big step in speaker impact that SHRM is looking for.
As with most good ideas, this came out of several conversations I had with HR leaders in Atlanta. Thanks. You know who you are.