Attending #SHRM19 – Respect Your Organization’s Investment

I attended my first #SHRM conference this year and enjoyed pretty much all of it.  I thought it was extremely well organized, the general sessions were interesting and varied, and I gained a lot of value from the event.

Being that the SHRM 19 conference was held in June, I was planning on writing a blog post about it which would have been your basic this is what I liked and this is what I didn’t like – blah blah blah.

Fortunately, a few days after the conference ended, a SHRM19 discussion thread complaining about the conference app caught my eye and got me thinking about how this thread illustrates part of what is wrong in the HR profession and what may be holding the profession back from being taken seriously by our company leadership. It gave me the opportunity to write something different than the typical conference review.

In the discussion thread, an attendee posted a complaint about how disappointed they were because of the lack of a physical paper concurrent session guide and how using the app will unnecessarily deplete their phone battery throughout the day.

There was a lot of agreement in the thread that SHRM messed up by not having the printed guide, and complaining about battery usage, the app being clunky, and the lack of information available (which was all in the app had they looked).

The SHRM Annual Conference is a serious event where, I assume, our most serious and dedicated HR Professionals attend.  It’s not cheap.  I also assume that the majority of these HR Pros want to be taken seriously by their leadership and contribute to the strategic direction of their organization and even earn that elusive seat at the table. I’m comfortable with this assumption because I hear and read about it almost every day.

So when I hear or see conference attendees complaining about not having a printed guide provided for them and not wanting to adopt and use something like the SHRM19 App, I get frustrated that they don’t see the incongruity of their complaints to what they say they want professionally.

Yes, I know I’m painting with a wide brush and making a lot of assumptions but this is my blog and how I am lining things up to make my point!

Here is my contribution to the discussion thread I mentioned above:

The schedule and all the session descriptions were, and still are, on the home page of the SHRM19 website organized by track and with the ability to print everything. One just needed to take a half hour or so before the conference to read, prepare, and plan.  As an effective professional with the responsibility of the +$3,000 investment my company made for me to attend, I prepared ahead of time.

I also spent a few minutes to download and learn how to use the app which became invaluable to me throughout the conference. And I brought a battery charger with me to recharge my phone late in the day (several vendors were giving them away).

SHRM had it all there for you if you would have taken the time to strategically prepare ahead of time.

As HR Pros who want our profession to be taken seriously we need to be strategic, embrace change, adopt new technology, creatively solve problems, and respect our organization’s investment in our development by preparing.

The hard truth is that if we’re not doing these for the little things when we attend the SHRM19 conference, then we’re probably not doing them for the big things in our organization.

This wasn’t a popular thing to say and I got some pushback but I fully stand by my comments and am even doubling down by posting this on HHHR because I feel so strongly about it.

Maybe because this was my first SHRM conference, I made the effort ahead of time to prepare and couldn’t rely on “the way things have always been done.”  But having a strong business background, I think I would have prepared the same way because I also always consider the cost/investment of every event or activity and, as I said in my comment above, I make a point of respecting my organization’s investment in my development by putting forth the effort to properly prepare so I get the most out of it.

I was actually very impressed by the app.  By preparing and getting to know the app in the days before the conference I learned the following things:

  • I can build my daily schedule but “starring” the sessions I want to attend and the will show up on My Schedule in the app.
  • Most of the sessions had the presentation slide deck attached so I downloaded them to my iPad before each session and followed along during the presentations.
  • I could easily find where to go by using the Navigate button that took me to maps of the Convention Center, the Exposition, and the Westgate
  • I was able to search for Exhibitors and quickly find their booth number so I could visit them.
  • I liked being able to read about the Speakers and discover their speaking time to schedule.
  • I was also able to get alerts on my phone and iPad that helped remind me of events an activities.

The app made my first SHRM conference experience a great one!

When your organization is willing to make a financial investment in your development, you owe it to them, and yourself, to make the appropriate amount of time to fully prepare. By doing so you  maximize the benefits of that investment for both the organization and yourself.

Restarting the Blog and Podcast

Just a quick note that I’m starting up the HHHR Blog and Audioblog once again!

I had to pause when I took an amazing job as the HR Director for a Senior Living and Real Estate Development company and relocated to Seattle last year.  I devoted all of my time and efforts into my family and job during this time and now feel comfortable getting back into blogging and podcasting.

In the past couple months, I wrote several blog drafts as interesting topics occurred to me and am in the process of finishing several of them.

My goal will be to publish once a month around the 15th.

The first post and podcast will be about Customer Service and how it relates to HR!

I’m really looking forward to getting back into it. Thank you all for your patience and understanding during my career and relocation transition!

 

My Good News and a Pause for HHHR

AdobeStock_75926072It’s been a month since my last post and I indicated on my podcast that week that I had some exciting news to share. I meant to post and podcast about this news much earlier but was simply unable to find the time because of the news.

Things have been a whirlwind since that week!  I accepted a job with Merrill Gardens and their sister company Pillar Properties in Seattle as their HR Director where I will be in charge of the HR function for both companies.  It’s something I’m very excited about as the HR department services both company’s 2000+ employees in seven states.

Since that week in February, I had a lot of work wrapping things up with several of my clients in Denver that I would no longer be able to continue working with due to my leaving the Denver area. In addition, I had to pack a few things and get up to Seattle to find a place for my wife and I to live until we find a place to buy.  I also got stuck in Casper, WY for a few days due to the winter storm that passed through the western states mid month. Not a big deal because I grew up there and we stayed with my in-laws but it delayed my house-hunting plans by a few days!

I eventually made it to Seattle and was able to find a place and as a bonus, am temporarily staying with my daughter and her family and am spending some wonderful quality time with my granddaughter!

So, I’ve had a lot going on the past month and it will be a while before I start posting and podcasting again because I need to devote my full attention on my new job and getting acclimated to the company and all I need to learn and accomplish.

There won’t be a podcast this week since my podcasting equipment is packed up and in storage.

Once I get to a certain place at my new job, I expect to start posting and podcasting again on a monthly schedule.  I love blogging and podcasting but I need to focus 100% on my new job and company!

 

My Interview with Engel Jones at 12 Minute Convos

12min-convo-ArtBack in December, I was invited to be interviewed by Engel Jones of 12 Minute Convos podcast fame.  I enthusiastically agreed and sat for an interview with him.  I was impressed with his professionalism, his enthusiastic attitude, and his dedication to podcasting.

He told me after the interview that it would be published sometime mid January and here is the link to it on his website.  I hope you enjoy it.

One of the things I learned from the interview with him are the “under the hood” steps needed to take to conduct interviews – something I’ve been thinking about doing here at HHHR and hope to do in the near future.

No Post or Podcast This Week

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My granddaughter expressing her displeasure that I didn’t get a post or podcast out this week.

Hey Crew – sorry about not having a blog post or podcast this week.

I’ve had a heck of a busy week with a lot going on in addition to fighting the bad cold that’s been going around.

I have a couple draft posts I’ve been working on and I just didn’t have the time to get to them last week but am working on them now for next Sunday!

 

Jeeps, Tires, and an HR Foundation

I’m taking a break from my series on strategic HR and pushing out a post about a recent purchase I made that ended up inspiring me to write a post that equates to HR.

This morning I had to buy new tires for my Jeep Wrangler – my dream car and one I was finally able to buy (with my wife’s consent, of course!) after pining for one since High School. I’m not an off-roader but have always loved the look of the CJ-5 and CJ-7 and then the Wrangler through all its iterations.

I also had to buy new tires for my wife’s car a couple weeks ago so it’s been an expensive couple of weeks but one I’m OK with it now that winter is here. I’m OK with spending money on important safety and foundational things.

As I was driving from Les Schwab Tires to Starbucks this morning, I noticed how much better the ride was compared to my old tires. I hadn’t noticed my old tires were worn down to the point where I needed new ones until it had snowed a little the other evening and I was slipping around more than usual. This being the rig I’d always wanted, I take very good care of it, religiously washing, getting my oil changed, and rotating my tires every 5,000 miles.  I was hoping I could squeeze out another winter on my old tires

And by just looking at them, they looked fine, the treads were all evenly worn and there were no bald spots (something I used to use as a guide when I was much younger and poorer!) But having slipped around more than usual the night before, I did the “penny test” and discovered that it was time to get new tires.

As I said earlier, I immediately noticed how much better the ride was compared to my old tires. My wife also commented how much nicer her ride was after getting her new tires. Of course, we always notice this whenever we get new tires because it’s a drastic change going from worn out to new tires. We never notice our new tires being slowly worn down because it happens over a long period of time. 

Now that I can afford it, I always buy the highest quality tires I can. I do this because the tires on my vehicles are the foundation of the car. They are the only piece of equipment that has contact with the ground.  Whether the surface is smooth dry pavement, a rough dirt road, a wet surface, or a snowy icy road.

The tires we have on our vehicle are what allows us to safely, or unsafely, navigate the different road conditions to get where we need to go.  If we have poor quality or worn out tires, we can usually survive for a while on the dry smooth roads but they may eventually blow out and leave us stranded. Ultimately, we will have trouble on the other types of road conditions. Its very important to have a solid and safe foundation.

So yes, I’m equating the quality of the tires on my Jeep to building and maintaining a solid HR foundation. Is that a stretch? Maybe, but let me tell you why and explore further as I equate the parts of my Jeep to the functions of an organization. All are equally important.   

So let’s break it down like this:

  1. The financing of the loan for my Jeep is the Finance organization. (Boom. Easy)
  2. The engine and drive train are the Operations organization. This function is what actually propels the Jeep and organization forward and makes everything in the Jeep and organization run. Like the tires, this function has to be regularly  well maintained.
  3. The body of the Jeep is the Marketing organization. This is what things look like to the outside observers and potential employees.  Just as my Jeep looks so darn cool, Marketing is responsible for making the organization look appealing to their customers.    
  4. The driver is the Leadership of the organization. Of course, like the driver of the Jeep, leadership is responsible for steering the organization to where, and at what speed, it needs to go and essentially sets the tone of everything that happens in the organization.
  5. The passengers are the Employees of the organization. The employees are not always just passive passengers but can assist Leadership with the direction they are going and can help drive and offer advice on where to go and how to get there.
  6. The tires are HR.  As are the tires, HR is not the most exciting part of an organization but the function that should always be in constant contact with the culture of the of the organization just as the tires are always in constant contact with the road. Good tires and good HR help the Jeeper and Organization safely navigate through difficult terrain/culture and weather/business environment conditions.  

The next two items are things that a Jeeper and organization have much less control over.  

  1. The climate and weather is the business environment the organization is in.  Jeepers have no control over the weather and Leadership has no control over the business environment. On any given day the weather/business environment can be clear and sunny, overcast, windy, gloomy, stormy – you get the picture.
  2. The road is the organization’s culture. Similar to an organization’s culture, the roads we drive can be smooth and dry, rough and rocky, slick and icy, and even flooded and impassable. Sometimes we even go off-road to experience something new and unusual.

And when we are talking about these last two items, where we have little to no control, it depends mostly on the skill of the driver/Leadership, the health of the engine/Operations, and quality of the tires/HR foundation that you have on your Jeep/organization that determines how well an organization navigates through challenging conditions as they reach their ultimate destination.

Since this is an HR blog and podcast I’ll close with this.  When the organization invests in a high quality HR organization and takes good care of it, just like me investing in and taking care of the high quality tires on my Jeep, the organization will be able to effectively and safely travel to it’s desired destination, weather all the storms, and navigate the different and often dangerous road conditions along the way.

Retooling Hard Hat HR

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Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Well, I took a lot of time off from my blog and podcast. I can blame it on a number of things, but bottom line, I just simply ran out of motivation. I’m sure I would have found time to post if I had been passionately motivated to do so. But I just wasn’t. It became a chore and I found it way too easy to find other things to do instead of work on HHHR.

It did bother me that I had abandoned my blog and podcast but not enough to to work on it.  At first, I enjoyed writing posts and putting out podcasts but as time went by, I just felt I didn’t have any real direction for HHHR. I didn’t feel comfortable with the niche I was trying to be a part of. I wasn’t even sure what niche I was in.  When you think about it, the HR profession is very diverse and complicated.  My niche was the entirety of HR which was entirely too big and left me feeling overwhelmed.

Then, after many months of HHHR being dormant and it nagging at the back of my mind, it came to me.

I’m going just focus Hard Hat HR on HR departments of one. Because that’s what I am. I’m in charge of a small HR department for a small mining company. That’s what I do and I do it well. So why not have that as my focus, my niche. I also, like most employees in a small company, wear several other hats. I do the Investor and Public Relations.

I don’t know what I was thinking before. What the heck does “Working Hard and Making it Safe for HR Pros” mean anyway? I guess I was trying to tie it into the Hard Hat theme but I was obviously trying too hard.

I think now that I’m just focusing on  HR departments of one, I can really concentrate on the issues that affect us because I experience those issues every single day and can write about those experiences and challenges. It gives me a great deal of subject matter. I will, of course, have to be careful about some things and won’t be able to share everything but I will take what I know and what I do and share it the best I can.

I also found myself worrying about my writing skills and how others would judge me when reading my blog.  This worry blocked me from sitting down and just banging something out, like I am now.  Even though I’ve stopped writing for a while, I continued to read many HR blogs and observed the folks writing them are clearly not worried about what others think, yet they have huge followings and are considered HR leaders – at least with their readers!

I know I’m not the most elegant writer.  I know I will make grammatical mistakes.  But I’m not going to worry about it any more and concentrate on just putting out good content that will help small and HR departments of one.  And I know the more I write, the better I’ll get.

So with that, I introduce the new and retooled Hard Hat HR, Building HR for Departments of One! I like it. I hope you do too.

Returning From my Break

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Well, this is my first post in nearly two months.  I left off and had to take a break from HHHR back in February because I was completely overwhelmed with work in addition to some difficult personal matters that needed my attention.  I was so busy and mentally drained each day that I was unable to carve out the time I needed to continue writing and recording posts.  It was frustrating because I was doing a good job keeping up a regular schedule, the key to building an audience, but I simply couldn’t do that during the past two months.  I felt I had to write a “Taking a Break” post to take the pressure off until I was ready to return.

I am reminded how difficult it is to get restarted after taking a break.  Things had finally settled down at work and with the personal matters a few weeks ago and I’ve actually had the time to get HHHR restarted.   I simply didn’t have the motivation to start writing and recording again and I seemed to find other “important” things to do like watch TV!

Once you break an established habit and routine for a period of time, it is very difficult to regain that habit and routine.  Not only did I stop posting and recording at HHHR, I stopped my regular morning routine of writing and reading.  I also stopped going to the gym to work out.  Once my days returned to normal at work and in my life, I found it very difficult to immediately get back into the important self development habits and routines I had established.  Maybe I just needed a few weeks to recover.  Maybe I was just rationalizing.

On one hand, I’m disappointed in myself for not having the discipline to keep up my routines during the past two months and that it took a couple weeks before I felt I could get restarted.  On the other hand,  I’m thinking there is only so much a person can do and it that takes some downtime to recover from a particularly crazy stretch of time.   Looking back, I’m a bit disappointed in myself  but I also realize that I’m only human and have a limited capacity to be effective at all times.  I needed the two to three weeks of “downtime” afterwards to recover from the extra workload at work and personal issues.

But this weekend, I felt like I could finally get back into my regular habits and routines of writing and recording to HHHR, to starting up my regular morning routine, and to start working out at the gym again.  It actually feels pretty good getting back into those habits.  My lack of not doing these routines and habits were constantly nagging in the back of my mind.  I knew I needed to get back on track and, frankly, didn’t feel like it until just this weekend.

I’m now working on several posts hoping to get ahead and have some written and recorded a couple weeks in advance.  I feel like I’ve recovered and have the capacity to restart HHHR after its two months of dormancy.  I will return to the once a week routine, with Wednesday as a target day for publishing both the blog post and podcast.

While writing this post, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is  important to allow yourself downtime after a particular gruelling period of time.  Give yourself permission to recover and recharge.  Spend time with you spouse and family.  Work on your hobbies and veg out in front of the TV.  This is what life is all about.  Take care of yourself.

Tweeking HHHR’s Schedule

I’m making a change to the frequency of my posts from twice a week – Monday and Wednesday – to once a week – Wednesday.  The reason being is that I want to improve the quality of both my posts and the audioblog podcast that accompanies each.

I’m working on HHHR in addition to my full time job and as a result, find myself really having to scramble to get two posts and podcasts out a week.  I’m finding that I’m starting to ‘half ass’ them just so I can get them out in the frequency schedule I set for myself.  I want to publish a much higher quality product and think I can do it if I scale back to a once a week schedule.

So, starting next Wednesday, I will begin the new schedule.

Introducing Hard Hat HR mobile!

Screenshot_2014-08-30-12-05-47Now you can easily access Hard Hat HR on your mobile phone.

I’m excited to introduce Hard Hat HR mobile because nearly 25% of the traffic to Hard Hat HR is through a smartphone.  The responsive design of the  HHHR website automatically adjusts to and optimizes the display to your device.

Accessing the internet via mobile devices is continuing to grow and will probably soon be the majority of internet traffic.

According the the Pew Research Internet Project, 58% of American adults have a smartphone and 34% of cell internet users use their phones the majority of the time to go online.  Yes, I know most of the time they are checking email and social media or getting directions, but the comfort level of using smartphones for other online behavior is only going to grow.

So it’s important for HHHR to be optimized for this behavior.

I gotta stay on the ‘cutting edge’ of technology.  I’ve always been kinda geeky that way!