Category Archives: Conferences

I’m Not Your Mother!

data point tuesday_500

This is a popular post from a year ago. I was reminded of it at the WorkHuman conference earlier this month.

Some things are simple. Some things are complicated. And some things that seem simple are actually pretty complicated. For example, it seems like a simple observation that happy employees are better employees. And, in fact, data abound to prove that point. But how to get happy employees is a little more complicated.

Early in my career as a business leader I always believed that people were my critical competitive edge and that creating a strong, caring culture was my job. But happiness? Come on. I wasn’t my employees’ mother. The nature of the employer/employee relationship, I believed, was a commercial relationship. Employees come to work, do a good job and I pay them. The more I could remove obstacles from their ability to do good work, the more I could offer development and thanks for a job well done, the better they performed. It wasn’t rocket science. Treat people well and they’ll treat your employees well. I got that. But trying to make them happy? I didn’t think that was part of the deal. (And I was a pretty effective business leader.)

But as I matured as a leader, I did begin to wonder about this notion of working to create happiness at work. I spent some time at Zappos – a culture whose leader is all about making his workforce happy. And while the Zappos culture wouldn’t be a fit for me, it worked for them. And they were happy. Really happy. And their business results were such that they could sell the business to Amazon for over $1 billion.

And then I became CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute and was covered over in data that prove a direct line from employee well-being to financial performance. And so while early in my career the notion of employee happiness didn’t register as a leadership imperative, I now believe that creating a culture that, in Tony Hseih’s words, delivers happiness to employees is quite clearly a practical and effective way to achieve top line growth, profitability, customer loyalty and, most importantly, employee loyalty.

In preparation for the Globoforce WorkHuman Conference in a couple of weeks, I was reading up on employee happiness and ran across one of their white papers, The Science of Happiness. It’s a quick read and makes some rather simple but profound points backed up by reliable data.

Here are 6 reasons why you want happy employees based on research from the Wall Street Journal and the iOpener Institute. Happy employees:

  • Stay twice as long in their jobs as their least happy colleagues
  • Believe they are achieving their potential 2x as much
  • Spend 65% more time feeling energized
  • Are 58% more likely to go out of the way to help their colleagues
  • Identify 98% more strongly with the values of their organization
  • Are 186% more likely to recommend their organization to a friend

Download the paper. It’ll take you less than 10 minutes to read and will give you some simple ideas to begin to see the benefits of focusing on employee well-being and happiness. And then join me at the WorkHuman Conference next year and let’s talk about happiness, gratitude, culture, and employee and organization success.

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Filed under China Gorman, Conferences, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Engagement, Globoforce, Gratitude, WorkHuman

Is HR Mad for Social?

What a week!

Monday and Tuesday in the U.K. at TruLondon; Wednesday in Dublin at the Kelly OCG Talent Strategy Summit; and Thursday and Friday in Amsterdam at the HR Tech Europe Conference. Hanging with HR Professionals from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America. Focused on the challenge of increasing the productivity and efficiency of organizations by managing talent better. A global challenge, surely.

The talk at TruLondon was focused on making talent acquisition smarter, more social (because that’s how talent operates today), and more effective. (You can read my take on the conference here.)

The conversation in Dublin was more general, but the use of social technologies was a central thread.

And social was front and center throughout HR Tech Europe – whether it was in keynotes by thought leaders like Thomas Otter, Naomi Bloom, Peter Hinssen  or Josh Bersin, the iHR competition where 6 emerging tech based HR solutions companies vied for the coveted “best new HR tech company,” or as many as 10 (out of 52) breakout sessions that had “social” in their titles.

It made me wonder: is HR mad for social? Every conversation I had in London, Dublin and Amsterdam touched on social – either in discussing conference content or in casual, more personal conversations.  A sample of things overheard:

  • “What a stitch: I just got endorsed for my BBQ skills on LinkedIn.” (not me)
  • “The Twitter stream was rocking during Josh Bersin‘s presentation.”
  • Naomi Bloom said “building/sustaining/deploying social networks to achieve business outcomes, and the business networks of workforce members, are foundational.”
  • Thomas Otter said “mobile devices and social networks are changing the way we work.”
  • “The nexus of Big Data and HR and social will take us to a whole new level of strategic impact.”
  • “Talent Acquisition and Learning and Development are outliers in the world of HR when it comes to early adoption – especially in the social and mobile arenas.”

Frankly, I knew for sure that HR is mad for social at HR Tech Europe when a session leader, a senior HR leader from a French firm, used an image of a kitten with the following caption: “please adopt me.” (HR + kittens = done deal.)

I don’t think that focusing on social technologies to help support HR in making bigger impacts in talent management challenges is a bad thing. We just have to ensure that we are being data-based and  strategic and not just focusing on the next new shiny object. We must ensure that any new solution we introduce into our organizations does 3 things:

  • Strengthens the relationships between employees and their managers, employees and customers, and employees and senior leadership
  • Is based on, collects and produces actionable data
  • Links with the talent strategy – which is rooted in the business strategy

Unless the myriad of solutions coming to the HR/Talent marketplace with social features can do those three things, they may well be just shiny objects mewling like kittens to be adopted.

Unless the myriad of solutions coming to the HR/Talent marketplace with social features can do those three things, they’ll do nothing to increase HR’s ability to lead the necessary strategic  workforce and talent planning actions.

Unless the myriad of solutions coming to the HR/Talent marketplace with social features can do those three things, HR won’t be able to fund them, much less implement them.

The discussions in London, Dublin and Amsterdam were engaging – whether in casual conversation or from behind the podium – and will lead the way for increasing HR’s impact on business performance and growth. And that’s just where HR needs to play:  improving business performance through the greater productivity of talent.  If that isn’t the focus, then social becomes a distraction and a waste of time, energy and money.

Then we won’t be mad for social – we’ll be mad at social. And rightfully so.

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Filed under China Gorman, Conferences, Connecting Dots, HR, HR Conferences, HR Technology Conference, Kelly OCG, Social Technology, Talent Management, Technology, Tru Events

#Tru Innovation

Bill Boorman photo by Heather Bussing

Two years ago I wrote about my first TruLondon unconference experience.  Read it here.  I called it The King of All Social Recruiting. It was less about the event and more about Bill Boorman, the conference  “disorganizer.”  I’ve just attended and led a track at TruLondon6 and I have to say it was another Bill Boorman Tour de Force.  This guy just doesn’t stop innovating.

Bill innovates like you and I breathe.  I don’t know how else to describe him.  For instance, at this unconference he enticed a major new sponsor to underwrite the first ever conference-based live streaming Google+ hangouts.  The first.  Ever.  The good folks from Kelly OCG’s EMEA team underwrote the filming and live streaming of “hangouts” – discussions, really – live streamed on Google+.  Kelly OCG had thousands of viewers to this unscripted, captivating content – challenging and fun conversations with thought leaders from around the world on topics that ranged from “should leaders manage the different generations differently?” to a

Kelly OCG Google+ Live Streaming Hangout photo by Heather Bussing

presentation and discussion led by the CEO of Stack Overflow, Joel Spolsky.  Some of the hangouts were social media focused, some were recruiting focused, some were just cool conversations by really smart people with expertise and opinions about the state of talent acquisition and development.  These were happening simultaneously with the three tracks of group discussions (not filmed or streamed live) in each time block.

China Gorman and Mervyn Dinnen at TruLondon6 photo by Heather Bussing

At the same time, Mervyn Dinnen from JobSite recorded and live streamed interviews with many of the notables in attendance.  John Sumser and I had a fun conversation about whether or not there really is a talent or skills shortage.  Check out the JobSite channel to see the recorded interviews.

True to the Tru brand, stars in the talent firmament  like Johnny Campbell, Paul Maxin, Henry Stewart, Andy Headworth,

Photo by Heather Bussing

John Sumser, Gerry Crispin, Crystal Miller and Heather Bussing led fascinating group discussions and challenged the attendees to share, learn and think differently.  As a track leader, I learned as much from the colleagues in my discussion as I hope they learned from me.

I have to say it was entertaining, fun – and I really learned a lot.  Just what I want from a conference – or unconference – experience.

If you get the chance to attend one of Bill’s Tru events – and they’re all over the world now with stops coming up in Amsterdam, Zurich, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Orleans, Seattle and lots more – you really need to do it.  Leave your “normal” conference experience expectations outside, though.  This will be a conference like no other you’ve ever attended.  And you’ll be smarter for it – and your network will have grown exponentially with innovators like Bill Boorman.

Well, not really like Bill Boorman — there’s only one of him.

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Filed under Bill Boorman, China Gorman, Conferences, Connecting Dots, HR Conferences, Talent Acquisition, Tru Events, Unconference

A Whole Lotta Business Going On!

Last year I wrote about the HR Technology Conference and titled my post “HR people doing business. Wait.  What?”  I attended this event for the first time last year and was struck by the business activity going on at the conference.  It wasn’t about swag; it wasn’t about recertification credits; it wasn’t about getting autographed books.  Some of it was attendees really having buying conversations with vendors; some of it was vendors doing business with other vendors; and some of it was organizations having hiring discussions with candidates who happened to be attendees, vendor employees, speakers, etc.  And all that was happening this year as well.  You just can’t escape the feeling that business is going on when you walk the halls and floor of this conference.

There was an added dimension to the floor this year.  And maybe it was there previously and I just wasn’t aware.  But there was lots of money at this conference looking for investment opportunities.  I talked with a number of VC and other investors who came to see what was new and to make relationships for investment purposes!

There’s a lot of money flowing into the HCM space these days – untold numbers of VC outfits; strategic buyers like IBM, Oracle, Salesforce; the public markets with IPO offerings like Workday.  With talent issues being top of mind for every business leader with a Chief in their title, it’s no wonder that money is seeking opportunity in this field.

And you could absolutely feel it at HR Tech which concluded in Chicago yesterday.  Investments were being poised to happen in start-ups as angel investments, start-up investments, series A, B and C investments as well as outright purchases.  The talent management issues of organizations all over the world are creating opportunities for innovative solutions that will help us get better talent more efficiently with a great likelihood of longevity.  That’s what we want as business leaders.  And money was there looking for opportunities to make that happen.

As Mark Hurd, President of Oracle, told the conference attendees, “I want the best people at the lowest cost that I can get them.”  Exactly.  As an organization leader who “gets” HCM’s value, Hurd is no longer in the minority of C-suite leaders.  And that means greater emphasis on productivity and efficiency and cost.  And that opens the door wide to innovation and investment.

The HR Technology Conference is the one conference to attend to find out how to make your HCM infrastructure more productive, more efficient, more cost effective and more future oriented.  It’s the one conference to attend to meet senior business leaders who are focused on winning through talent and systems to manage that talent.  It’s the one conference to attend to get a glimpse of what will be possible in the future to ensure organization success.  If it isn’t on your agenda for next year, it should be.

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Filed under C-suite, Conferences, HR Conferences, HR Executive Magazine, HR Technology Conference, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, Talent Management, Workday

A Day in the Life…

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.

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Filed under China Gorman, Conferences, HR, HR Conferences, SHRM, SHRM Annual Conference

It’s a Wrap!

Well…another SHRM Conference is in the can. In Atlanta. In the Georgia World Congress Center. More than 13,000 attendees – with more than 1,000 from outside the U.S.

Here’s my assessment:  no one does HR conferences like SHRM. Period.

  • More than 200 concurrent sessions
  • High profile keynote speakers
  • World class entertainment
  • More than 800 exhibitors in the Expo Hall
  • Social media integrated throughout
  • Involvement of more than 700 local SHRM member volunteers
  • More than 350 SHRM employees

The SHRM Annual Conference is the single largest gathering of HR professionals anywhere in the world – year in and year out. And it’s motivating and exciting to be a part of that.

And while the mechanics are impeccable, the content engaging, and the crowds impressive, the real value of a gathering like this aren’t the mechanics, content and crowds. The real value of SHRM is the personal connections we make, the conversations we have, the meeting IRL of people we only know through social media, the meeting IRL of people we read about in HR Magazine, the private coaching from our mentors, the chance meetings of people who will be new personal and professional friends.

On second thought, it’s not actually a wrap, my friends. It’s a hug. It’s a hug from our profession. It’s a hug from our colleagues, our heroes, our game changers.  And who doesn’t need a hug from time to time?

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Filed under China Gorman, Conferences, HR Conferences, SHRM, SHRM Annual Conference

What a Difference 3 Years Makes!

Three years ago in at its Annual Conference in New Orleans SHRM took a tiny, tentative baby step into the land of Social Media by fielding a concurrent session on HR Blogging.  It was called “HR Bloggers: who are they and why should I care?”  Four HR bloggers, 2 SHRM members and two (then) non-SHRM members) were featured in a panel discussion.  There was only one guideline:  no cussing.

The panelists, Kris Dunn (www.hrcapitalist.com), Lance Haun (www.lancehaun.com), Jessica Lee (www.fistfuloftalent.com) and Laurie Ruettimann (www.thecynicalgirl.com), spoke in language not recognized by most HR professionals about social media, tweeting and social community.  The most interesting part of the conversation to me was the discussion on whether or not bloggers should be held to commonly accepted journalistic ethical standards.

Also noteworthy about this session was the fact that it was live-streamed, a first-ever event at a SHRM conference.

And that was it. Well, if tentatively, received.  Tiny baby steps.

Flash forward 3 years and WOW!

A micro site on the SHRM website dedicated to the conference experience called The Buzz.

A social media lounge for bloggers – and there are lots of them.  The Hive – a 3,000 square foot social media hub/genius bar/meeting spot/training ground – prominently positioned and staffed by true HR social media experts to help attendees get started in social media or get more effective at social media.

Want to set up a Twitter account?  They’ll help you do it on the spot.  Want to change your FaceBook profile? They’ll help you do it on the spot.  Can’t figure out how to share a profile on LinkedIn?  They’ll help you do it on the spot.  Want to fill out your profile on SHRMConnect and get started?  They’ll help you do it on the spot.

Curtis Midkiff (@SHRMSocMedGuy), head of SHRM’s social media efforts has conceived and produced a brilliantly elegant approach to adding social media to the fabric of the conference experience.  If you’re a newbie, his team at The Hive will get you started.  If you’ve started but need help reaching the next level, his team at The Hive will get you there.  If you’re an expert, you’re welcome in the social media lounge – but beware. You will feel honor-bound to write a blog post and publish it immediately.  (Sort of like this one.)

Couple these efforts with free WiFi connectivity in the convention center and you have a benchmark, 21st century social media enabled conference.  Well done, Curtis and team.  Well done!

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Filed under Conferences, HR Conferences, SHRM, SHRM Annual Conference, Social Media, The Hive