Tag Archives: Conferences

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

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

Two Sides of the Conference Coin

I had the great good fortune to attend two HR conferences last week:  HRevolution in Atlanta and Bersin & Associates’ IMPACT: the Business of Talent in St. Petersburg, Florida.  HRevolution was a one-day conference; IMPACT was a two and-a-half day conference.

IMPACT was about introducing new research focused on HR effectiveness; HRevolution was focused on discussing HR’s opportunities to transform itself.  IMPACT is a traditional conference; HRevolution is an unconference.  And both were outstanding.

130 activist HR professionals descended on Atlanta on Friday afternoon.  This was the third HRevolution unconference organized by Trish McFarlane, Ben Eubanks, Steve Boese and Crystal Peterson, a team who wanted to provide an alternate HR conference experience to those who couldn’t afford the big ticket conferences and who wanted a community energizing experience to kick-start their learning.  The HR activists who attended this week came from all over the world, from all walks of HR life and who were bound together by the relationships they have created on the social web.  Yes, there were tweeters, bloggers, FaceBookers, LinkedIners: all manner of social web inhabitants.  All there to solidify their relationships in person and take their online discussions to a deeper level.

While billed as an unconference, HRevolution was more of a highly-participative structured conference.  An opening keynote by Liz Gottung, CHRO of Kimberly Clark started the day with a frank overview of HR’s opportunities and goals in a legacy-burdened, paternalistic culture.  Her candor about her leadership challenges was motivating to the attendees who then made their way to a series of breakout discussions on topics like “If HR is so bad, what you doing about it?” “Pop Culture, Politics, and HR”, “Diversity and Inclusion = Innovation in the 21st Century” and “Designing HR for Influence.”

Few of these sessions used PowerPoints and session leaders – discussion leaders, really – expected  attendees to jump in to the discussions at hand.  And they did!  It was fun to sit with Courtesy of Monster30 or 40 other knowledgeable HR-related folks and debate topics like “If a high EQ is so desired in leaders why do such a high proportion of CEOs have low EQ scores?” and “what is influence and how can HR professionals develop more of it?” and “why do we insist on creating activity-controlling policies for flexible workers when we should be focusing on measuring outcomes?” and, well, you get the point.

One particularly engaging session, “HR Slam,”  broke the attendees into groups and asked them to solve an actual business problem provided by the session leaders.  A small, family-owned chain of restaurants is experiencing sudden and unexpected turnover in its small group of managers and asked for suggestions on how to move through their crisis.  The group with the most compelling and complete set of recommendations won $50 gift cards, so the competitive juices were flowing.  The restaurant chain owners ought to pay attention to the advice that was generated:  it was remarkable.

The toughest criticism I heard all day was that there were too many great sessions led by too many great leaders to pick which sessions to attend.  I felt the same way.

At the end of the day, HRevolution was a success because it was flawlessly planned and executed, the attendees came to play, the session leaders engaged with their attendees, and a spirit of camaraderie pervaded the space.

IMPACT introduced several new Bersin & Associates research reports by its analysts, all deeply knowledgeable and engaging speakers.  The research overviews were impressive, presented in actionable bites and gave the attendees just enough information so that the value of the full reports was crystal clear.  Made me want to go home, get on their website and download everything they’ve got.  And I am doing just that.

Additionally, IMPACT featured a number of in-the-trenches HR leaders who shared what was happening in their organizations on such topics as the use of social media in strategic staffing (AT&T, Actuant, Darden), re-building HR as a critical business performance asset (UnitedHealth Group), improving organization effectiveness by creating a robust HR analytics/business intelligence function (Eaton, Accenture), successfully leading organization change (Kaiser Foundation, CA Technologies), and transforming business through learning (SunTrust Bank, Thomson Reuters, The Cheesecake Factory, Teradata Corporation, Cisco Systems).

Sponsors of IMPACT, solution providers, were provided a large Demo Room to set up tables and engage with attendees.  It was a sort of genteel expo, not the usual frenetic tchotchke-laden expo hall.  Quite enjoyable, actually.

I really enjoyed all the built-in opportunities to network with the other attendees.  There were 3 receptions and robustly timed lunches and breaks.  The whole conference experience was designed for 450 senior HR leaders (they sold out and turned away 40+ more!) who don’t need a lot of noise and hoopla to engage, discover and learn.  I did all three.

So.  Two great conferences.  Two great experiences.  Two different audiences (although 3 of us were at both).  I really appreciate that there are many options for HR professionals to come together and learn.  I like seeing the trend of HR professionals reaching out for what they need in new ways – and conference organizers responding with new kinds of experiences.  There truly is something for everyone.

My only complaint?  Sponsors at every conference I’ve attended this year have raffled off IPads.  I haven’t won any of them.

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I Heart Recruiters!

I guess I’m an HR Conference junkie.  Because here I am at my first EREexpo and I’m lovin’ it!  (With apologies to McDonald’s.)

EREexpo is presented by the folks at ERE.net – led by David Manaster.  Because he knows I know HR conferences, he asked me if I had any suggestions for him.  And you know what?  I don’t.  He and his team have done a spectacular job.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s the best conference – altogether – that I’ve attended in the last 12 months.

Networking:

The nearly 500 attendees are here to engage with the content and each other.  I’ve been to a lot of HR networking events in my time, and these recruiters and talent acquisition leaders know how to network.  At the jam-packed opening reception last night the connections and re-connections being made were a thing of beauty.  These folks came to meet their peers, share the latest in “what works” and help each other be more effective.  Aggressively open and supportive.

Speaker Selection:

I am absolutely impressed with the quality of the keynotes and breakout sessions.  The Keynotes are all practicing recruiting leaders.  Leaders of actual recruiting functions inorganizations.  Practitioners.  Organization leaders.  So their content is full of current examples of what their organizations are really doing in the field. These aren’t sales pitches from consultants or “motivational” stories.  Actual relevant and actionable content by practitioners in the field.

Breakout sessions – only three at a time – are also nearly all led by practicing recruiting leaders.  The consultants who are presenting are true thought leaders.

Social Media:

I am thrilled to see that all the keynotes and one session per breakout time is being live streamed for any interested viewer.  Free.  As in no cost.  How’s that for using the power of social media to strengthen a community and drive stickiness to a brand?  During coffee breaks the great Steve Boese from HR Happy Hour is streaming live interviews with speakers and other notable attendees to keep the content flowing between sessions.  A truly brilliant move on ERE’s part – and not just because I was one of the interviews.

Awards:

This really caught my attention.  The ERE Recruiting Excellence Awards presentation took a 90 minute keynote slot.  There were 8 categories and representatives from the top 2 finalist organizations in each category were on the stage.  That’s 16 people sitting on the stage.  The winners and 1st runners up were announced live very attractive trophies were presented.  So far pretty normal.

Then the magic started.  The chair from last year’s conference moderated the winners and the audience in a panel Q&A/discussion session that let the audience look under the hood of the winning organizations’ strategies and tactics from the people who led the innovations.  I’ve never seen such engagement between a panel and an audience.  There were more questions than than time to answer.  (Of significant interest to the audience were the successes with putting wounded warriors to work at some very impressive organizations)  It was a very powerful session.

Venue/logistics:

The Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego is a stellar conference property.  The conference rooms are set up classroom style with table covers – a very nice touch.  Very comfortable and accessible.  ERE sprang for complimentary WiFi throughout the venue for attendees – a meaningful differentiator.  Other conference organizers should note that feature.  The food is pretty good, the staff is extremely accommodating and the sleeping rooms are lovely.

What else can I tell you?  This conference is the complete package.  Excellent content from current practitioner/leaders, excellent social media approach, excellent execution on the logistics.

The most impressive things about this conference, though, are the attendees.

recruiters.

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