And I mean a full day. For the record, I made it to the 7am session.
My focus for the conference was definitely learning as much as I could about transitioning my HR department and my own role into more of a proactive business partner instead of a reactive department that tends to operate a lot off requests or issues or problems, so this is what my day looked like in a nutshell:
From Vision to Transformation: Leading Through Change
The first session was a pretty big letdown. It wound up ending at 7:45am and it seemed like the speaker never even got past the surface of change. There were some pretty standard concepts that the speaker touched on: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a clip of a Lakers’ game that included a bunch of players pushing each other, and a brief rundown of what the different parts of the brain are called. The biggest takeaway was something that I think a lot of us might struggle with, especially when we want to keep people engaged or show our appreciation in either a tangible way or in some type of power trip for some reason. I think it’s something we understand and I think it’s valuable to reflect on things that we already know:
- Incentive and threat rarely work in the long run. It’s easy to think both sides of that might help, but neither one really foster a feeling of trust or appreciation and that’s what a long term commitment is really about, whether it’s in the professional world or your personal life. In Human Resources, we focus on humans and that means we need to focus on them in their entirety. If you threaten or bribe your significant other or child to mow the lawn all the time, does it work forevermore? Sure doesn’t. Employees are people exactly like you, your leaders and your HR department. It’s important to remember that.
The ‘HOW’ of Spreading the ‘WHY’: Effectively Spreading Vision Throughout Your Organization with Randy Anderson
I’ve been reading A LOT lately on how it’s important to explain the why to people. It’s easier for people to want to get on board when they know WHY they’re doing something and not just HOW to check things off a list. Makes sense, right? And as a person, it’s my own curiosity of WHY the heck are we doing this that gives me that extra push to knock things off checklist. If you think about it compared to the session right before this, it builds off of the stop threatening employees and stop trying to pay them off to get shit done. Just help them understand WHY they’re doing it. That’s not a lot to ask. My 2 year old asks WHY a million times a day. It’s annoying, but he sure does think it’s the greatest thing ever when I actually answer them. Win-win for both of us. Two key takeaways for me from this session:
- If you asked your employees why the change, any change, was happening, what would they tell you? They’re likely the ones that will be answering questions from your external customers, their friends and family, or even new employees coming on board. If they don’t know the answer, this is how you know you’ve got some work to do.
- Make the vision and goals of the organization a regular part of the conversation. I had a true sense of pride when Randy said this, because I feel like it is a regular part of the conversation where I work. It’s not one of those forced habits where your managers make you recite them every single day and chastise you because you don’t know them. For us, it’s because our employees feel like they exemplify our core values in what they do, at work and at home. I’m not completely naive in thinking 100% of our employees feel that way. I bet you could ask any one of our 540+ employees to name our core values and they could. As we go through big changes, it’s a good reminder to make sure those changes we’re making are also inline with our core values. And WHY they’re in line with our core values. It’s making sure they’re reminded of our values and why we do what we do on a regular basis.
Disrupt HR! Approaching HR, Talent Acquisition (and Your Career) in a Whole New Way with Jennifer McClure
I can’t even begin to do this talk justice. I’ve followed Jennifer on Twitter forever and, awesomely enough, actually met her in person right outside of my last session. Twitter is magic and I don’t really feel like that’s a stretch of the imagination.
I try really hard to take notes during these sessions because it makes better sense to me in the end when I start reflecting on what I heard. Didn’t happen during this session. At all. The word disrupt gets thrown around a lot right now and it doesn’t always make sense to do that in some aspects. It does in HR. At least for me. It also matches up to everything I’ve had in my head ever since moving from an agency recruiter role into an actual HR department a little over four years ago. I loved every single second. It just MADE SENSE and there’s also more for me to put together if I can get it all out of my head.
Equipping New Managers for Success: Tools for Creating High Performance Work Environments with Alan Fine
I think it’s a challenge with any company when it comes to making sure new managers are set up for success. Whether we hire people that have that management experience in the outside world on their resumes or we promote someone up through the ranks because they’ve been strong performers, we aren’t putting either of those people in good place without giving them the tools and knowledge they need before they get too deep in the weeds of everything else that goes along with a leadership role.
- SPORTS ANALOGY. I don’t know how many times there are sports references in HR conferences for some reason. It’s certainly not due to the high level of males in the field – maybe it’s to attract them to our luxurious lives in HR? The actual point was something that really jumped out at me. In any team sport, the coach is the one that gets fired if the team is performing poorly, even if it’s just one person on the team that’s tanking it. In business, the player (or the employee for those of you that are already lost on this sports analogy) gets fired due to their performance/poor results. Why is it different? Professional athletes have gigantic 8-figure salaries with multi-year contracts, so is a coach really all that important when that’s the case? I think it tells me that in the business world, we think employees are easier to replace than managers. That’s probably true in a lot of cases. It doesn’t make it right.
- SayDoCo. I love this and it’s easy. Say what you’ll do. Communicate when you can’t. Do what you say. Add them all up and it’s pure, unadulterated accountability, my friends. When we’re accountable to our teams and to ourselves, we create that feeling of trust that leaders need early on. Now we’re advancing in those five levels of leadership, am I right, John Maxwell?
- Fire, Focus and Faith. We can give leaders (and employee, too, really) all of the knowledge in the world and provide them with all of the actual training in the world, but without these three components, there’s going to be a struggle. All three of those things enhance someone’s knowledge. If someone lacks faith or belief, it leads to insecurity. If they like the fire or the energy, it’s looked at as indifference. If there’s a lack of focus or attention, inconsistency is going to be right there.
And then there was an evening of hanging out with HR people for like six hours and it was phenomenal. I’m the type of person that will find a way to get out of professional networking any way I can, but this wasn’t professional networking and I think that’s what made it less uncomfortable for me. It was just people hanging out with people and that’s a concept I haven’t really run into in my minimal attempt at professional networking. It gave me a fresh mind on how network doesn’t HAVE to be and I’m so grateful for that.