Category: SHRM Chapters and Conferences

A Follow-Up Discussion on Workplace Bullying #SHRM16

As part of my blogging team coverage of the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition, several weeks ago I conducted a Q&A with Catherine Mattice, one of the conference’s concurrent speakers.  The post served as a preview of her session, titled “The Real World: Case Studies of Real Organizations Who Solved Their Workplace Bullying Problems” and gave us some insight into her thoughts on the reality of workplace bullying.  You can read that initial Q&A post here.


So naturally at the conference I took the opportunity to attend her session.  What was immediately apparent to me is just how passionate Catherine is about this topic.  This wasn’t something she was presenting on because it’s trendy or simply a hot topic amongst HR pros right now, she really, truly believes that not only is this a very real issue, but it’s one that can be solved.  Her enthusiasm for the topic came across in our Q&A, but once I had the opportunity to see her actually speak on the topic, and how she at times spoke on the brink of emotion, it became very obvious that this is something she is dedicated to educating, addressing, and alleviating in our workplaces. (One point to note: Catherine herself was at one time the victim of a workplace bully, and that is what initially sparked her desire to start talking about it).


After providing attendees with a summary of her own background, experience with bullying, and how she arrived at where she is now with her work against workplace bullying, Catherine described the three characteristics of bullying and the three buckets of bullying behavior.


The Three Characteristics:


  1. Bullying is repeated. According to research on the subject, behavior that qualifies as bullying typically happens at least once a week over the course of at least a six month period.  Certainly it could vary somewhat from that, but the point is it’s generally not a one-time event (not unlike what is generally recognized as a hostile work environment – it usually has to be severe and pervasive behavior).
  2. Bullying creates a psychological power imbalance. The bully uses his or her voice to “squash” the voice of the victim.
  3. Bullying causes harm. This may seem obvious, but the behavior significantly impacts the victim.  In fact, Catherine cited a fact that often, if not addressed, the behavior continues to a point in which the victim can no longer take it and quits to get away from it.


The Three Buckets of Behavior:

  1. Aggressive Communication. In other words, attacking emails, invasion of personal space, harsh finger pointing.  Any sort of communication in which the bully exhibits characteristics of that psychological power imbalance.
  2. Humiliation. These are behaviors that promote social isolation, pointing out mistakes in public, or even – taken to the extreme – hazing.
  3. Manipulation. Perhaps one of the more common bullying behaviors and the most difficult one to identify includes things such as giving impossible deadlines or continually changing deadlines, impossible workloads, and providing (unwarranted) poor performance reviews.


Catherine then went on to describe four real scenarios at real companies in which bullying behaviors were present.  I won’t give away all of the details (you just had to be there for that!) but how the behaviors were addressed varied and largely depended on the type of behavior that was present.  Was in one specific individual or a prevalent culture of bullying that was being allowed?  What was the state of communication within the organization?  Was there a distrust of leadership present among employees?  Solutions raged from communication and prevalence audits (in the case of toxic workplaces with individual predominant bullies or an overall culture of bullies); engaging peer advisors and a “peer listening scheme” in environments with a distrust of leadership; committees with members from all levels of the organization where a culture of bullying required a social vision and update to corporate values; and supervisory training, coaching, and mediation.


The final thought attendees were left with, and one that is critical for us as HR pros to recognize is this: If someone witnesses bullying and doesn’t speak up, they are not a bystander, they are a reinforcer.  We must create environments where our employees feel comfortable and know how to speak up for each other, and we need to train our managers on creating environments within their control where bullying is not allowed, and how to stop it  if it in fact appears.


If we focus on creating a positive workplace, the bullying behavior goes away.   


About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.










#SHRM16 Day 3 – Why HR Pros Should Care About the Political Climate

Posted on June 22nd, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, HR Conferences, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. 1 Comment

I’m going to preface this by saying I am not a political junkie by any stretch of the imagination.  I generally keep my thoughts to myself and don’t engage in political debate.  However, I was totally and completely RIVETED by Tuesday morning’s keynote at SHRM16.

The keynote paired Fox News’ Tucker Carlson with CNN’s Paul Begala in a lively, and at times heated point/counterpoint discussion on the current political climate, the implications of the upcoming election, and why HR pros should care about it all.

This was the second keynote that paired two speakers together, in both cases with individuals that would seem to be more different than alike, but in the end pulled together some common themes.   Though Carlson’s and Begala’s political leanings were glaringly on opposite sides of the spectrum in most cases, the dialogue was, as I mentioned earlier, riveting, and both came through with some common themes for the HR professionals in attendance.

So why exactly should we care and be paying attention to the state of politics in today’s world?  Well, the simple answer is this: our organizations are a microcosm of the nation at large, and what’s happening in the larger electorate is also happening in our organizations.  So what are some of those things that are happening?


Median Income Has Stalled

Our middle class is under unprecedented economic pressure, and income equalities exist throughout the nation.  Median incomes have stalled for a large proportion of American citizens, and without a thriving middle class, it’s difficult to have a thriving economy.  For many of us, a large percentage of our workforces very well may fall into this struggling middle class (if not even lower middle class for those with a large percentage of hourly wage workers).  Income/finance concerns are very real to these folks.  Do we recognize that?  Are we aware and sensitive to their realities of working paycheck to paycheck in some cases?  How in tune are we with the reality of the makeup of our workforces?


An Explosion of Diversity

In both the larger electorate and within our organizations, there is a fundamental shift in the makeup of those populations.  The new electorate has a much larger percentage of younger people, people of color, and unmarried women than ever before, and that diversity translates over to our workplaces.  The challenge is that there are still people, including people in our workforces, who have a difficult time adapting to these changing times.  It doesn’t make them bad people, it doesn’t make them “haters” or “bigots,” in many cases it just makes them people with a difficulty adapting to change or shifting the view of reality they’ve just always known.  As HR pros, we have an obligation to promote diverse and inclusive workforces, and help those that struggle with adapting learn to adapt and accept the new reality (at least in the workplace – we can’t control what happens outside of work!)

Tucker Carlson noted that people generally are not wired to handle the current pace of social change, and the single largest failure of the “elite” is not recognizing that fact.  I wonder how many of our organizations are guilty of this very thing?  Do our leaders recognize those that are struggling?  Though it may not be possible to slow down the pace of change, what can we do to help our folks accept it?


Your Background Shapes Your Outlook

The final point to be made is that where you live has a profound impact on your outlook.  If you were raised in, or now live in a fairly affluent area, that reality shapes how you see the world and the issues that matter to you.  However, most of our organizations include a cross section of people from all walks of life…are we as HR pros and leaders equipped to be able to understand their versions of reality?  What matters in an affluent area varies greatly from the issues that matter in Middle America, and that varies greatly from lower income/impoverished areas.  Many of us in leadership positions may tend to bias towards the view of a more affluent populations, but can we put ourselves in the positions of those with a very different world view?

So much food for thought and points to ponder for everyone in the room Tuesday morning.


Highlights from #SHRM16 Day 2 – Power Poses, Corporate Delegates, Certification, and Engagement

Posted on June 21st, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. No Comments

Day 2 (and the first full day) of SHRM 2016 had me jumping around in various directions.  Here are some highlights…


Power Posing

The morning keynote was Amy Cuddy, author of the book “Presence” and known for coining the phrase “power pose” through her well known TED talk.  I’ve had the opportunity to see Amy speak previously, and recently finished reading her book.  Amy presents a convincing case for the power of connection between the body and the mind in bringing your best, most authentic self to work, especially in difficult, challenging, or nerve wracking situations.  She encouraged attendees (and especially encouraged us to teach our daughters, who tend to fall into restrictive posture and body language as they move into puberty) to “take up their fair share of space in the world” by opening up and focusing on expansive posture and body language.  A fair takeaway for anyone looking to continue to increase their power and influence in their own lives and organizations.


Corporate Delegates

I had the opportunity to attend the Senior Delegate Luncheon, part of the Corporate Delegate Program.  Not knowing much about it prior to attending, I did a little research and learned that that Corporate Delegate Program is something SHRM offers for companies who send a minimum of five attendees to the annual conference.  Along with discounted rates, there are a number of additional benefits, including an exclusive networking luncheon for the most senior leader in each corporate delegation.  This year’s luncheon also included a presentation from Deloitte on tax implications and tax breaks as related to the Affordable Care Act, a topic no doubt on the minds of many in the room.  I’d highly encourage any company who regularly sends more than one attendee to SHRM Annual to check out the Corporate Delegate Program and the potential benefits of sending maybe just a few more of your folks to the show.


The Value of Certification

As most SHRM members probably already know, a couple of years back SHRM rolled out the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certifications based on the SHRM Competency Model and body of knowledge.  Monday afternoon some of the members of the SHRM Certification team visited the bloggers lounge to give us a preview of some of the soon to be introduced developments pertaining to the SHRM Certification.  Amongst the most exciting are a dedicated app to track certification activities (no more thick manila folders to hold onto certification materials!) and an online library of virtual certification activities that can be used for up to half of your required credits.  Good stuff!


Employee Engagement

The last session I attended Monday afternoon was “Living for the Weekday: The Employee Side of Employee Engagement.”  Though the session didn’t turn out to be exactly what I thought it would, speaker Clint Swindall was engaging, entertaining, and had a number of good points.  Though his focus was on ensuring that we ourselves are engaged contributors to our companies, what his message boiled down to is that engagement is far more complex than just work/life balance.  He spoke of five components that contribute to engagement: career, relationships, health, finances, and spirituality.  If any of those five are off, we can’t possibly bring our full selves to work and be fully engaged.  That’s an important concept to think about regardless of whether you’re considering your own engagement or the engagement of your employees.  Work/life balance is too abstract and means different things to different people, so why not take a more holistic approach?  Now how exactly we do that is the key question!


Overall, a full day of activities with much more to come!


About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.



Checking In From #SHRM16 – Macro & “MikeRowe” Breakthroughs

The 2016 edition of the Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference and Expo is well underway.

The annual pilgrimage of 15,000 human resource pros to experience everything HR related kicked off with a Sunday opening general session featuring Alan Mullaly (of Ford and Boeing fame) and “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe (who was, for the record, the most entertaining keynote I can remember in recent years).  What was seemingly an odd pairing to speak together turned out to be a wonderfully complementary approach to breakthroughs (which, incidentally is the theme of SHRM16).  We’ll call it the Macro and the “MikeRowe” approach.


The Macro Approach

Alan Mullaly began with a narrative about his days when he took over the Ford Motor Company.  At that time, the company was losing $17 million dollars, no sign of success by any stretch of the imagination.  However, if one were to review their business charts, everything was marked as “green,” meaning all was well and good and on target.


The approach that Mullaly went on to describe involved an intense focus on people.  In fact, he cited Human Resources the biggest competitive advantage an organization can have, as it’s their role to managing the resources – the people – that make things happen.  Nice to hear from a successful CEO, isn’t it?  He talked about first and foremost about being honest about your failures.  Blissful ignorance is not going to help your bottom line, and if your people don’t understand the reality, they aren’t going to know what needs to be worked towards.  Then you need to believe in your people to get the job done.  You either believe or you don’t believe, and if you don’t, you better get to a place that you can.  The next question is does EVERYONE know the plan to accomplish the goals that need to be reached?  Communication and setting of expectations is key.   Then empower them to listen, help, and respect each other and understand their role in working towards the necessary outcome.  Lastly, make sure they feel appreciated for what they do.  His approach was everything we as HR pros should already be practicing and preaching, but to hear it from someone as successful as Alan Mullaly really drove it home.


The “MikeRowe” Approach

Mike Rowe then came on stage and entertained the crowd with his hilarious and vividly detailed description of hosting “Evening Magazine” (his former show) in the sewers of San Francisco that ultimately led to the creation of “Dirty Jobs.”  Amongst descriptions of everything you’d expect when talking about sewers (there was much simultaneous laughing and cringing in the room), he talked about having a “peripeteia,” a concept used in fictional narratives that essentially means a change in fortune or change in direction.  Call it a breakthrough of sorts.  In the filth of the sewers of San Francisco, he realized that there are unsung heroes in all manners of work who not only do what most of us would never dream, but many do it happily….more than can be said for a large percent of the unengaged workforce today if we’re to believe the statistics.  His peripeteia led to the creation of “Dirty Jobs” where he highlights many of these such people.  He took his message further by encouraging the HR pros in the room to find their own peripeteia and breakthrough the fundamental disconnect with work that’s present in so many organizations.  Many of our organizations don’t value all work equally, yet the job that everyone does is important and ultimately drives organizational success.  How do we as HR pros recognize this, and ensure that everyone is valued for what they contribute, no matter how “small” the job?  This particularly resonated with me, coming from a retailer with over 16,000 employees.  The cashier that regularly waits on the same customer in a small, rural community is just as important to overall company success as the Category Managers at the corporate office or the District Managers in the field.  In their own corner of our organizational world, they make a difference.  Do they know that?  Are they recognized for that?  Do we as HR pros do enough to ensure this?

The theme of everyone contributing to organizational success and the importance of communicating and recognizing that was the thread that tied the two speakers together in my mind.  And it was also my biggest takeaway from Sunday’s session.



About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.





Finding Your Breakthrough Moments #SHRM16

Posted on June 7th, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. No Comments

I will once again this year be attending the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C. from June 19-22 as part of the social media and blogging team.  Stay tuned over the coming weeks for more updates and coverage from the show.


When I think back over the course of my HR career thus far (now nearly two decades long….yikes! When did that happen?), I can say with certainty that there were distinct moments in time that helped to define and shape the course of my career.  These times may not have been “moments” in the context of minutes, hours, and days, but they were moments in time in the context of transformational periods – some more finite in nature, and some that were a bit more of a slower evolution.  But regardless of the manner in which they happened, the outcome was the same…they provided a crossroads where afterwards my career trajectory changed in a fundamental and noticeable way.


Read the full post on the SHRM Blog.

A Conversation on Workplace Bullying #SHRM16

I will once again this year be attending the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C. from June 19-22 as part of the social media and blogging team.  Along with our usual previews and coverage, ahead of the conference each member of the team will be conducting a Q&A with one of the conference session speakers.  I chose Catherine Mattice, who along with her company Civility Partners, strives to educate and address the topic of workplace bullying.

Catherine and I chatted about why she chose to dedicate her career to workplace bullying, why it’s a very relevant topic for today’s human resource professionals, and what to expect from her session at #SHRM16.

Read the full Q&A over at the SHRM Blog.

Maximizing Your #SHRM15 Experience

The 2015 edition of the SHRM Annual Conference and Expo is now just a little over a week away.  As you begin your preparations to converge on Fabulous Las Vegas next weekend, amidst deciding which comfy shoes you’re going to bring (and maybe some not-so-comfy ones for the evening hours), packing sun block for the pool, choosing which Vegas attractions you’ll hit in your free time, and stashing away your cash for the blackjack tables, have you given any thought as to how you’re going to truly maximize your conference experience?


I’ve written about this topic in past years, but feel it’s worth revisiting each year.  No matter if it’s your first, third, or tenth time attending, giving some thought to how you’re going to utilize your time can only work to your advantage.  Because let’s face it, once you arrive and get swept up in the whirlwind that is SHRM Annual….especially with this year’s location being Las Vegas….it can be very easy to lose focus and find yourself on the plane ride home asking yourself, “what did I actually accomplish?”


SHRM Annual puts an incredible amount of knowledge and resources at your disposal.  Between the sessions, the Expo Hall, and the unlimited amount of networking opportunities available, if you leave without taking something of value with you, it really is your own fault.  However, what you get out of it is largely based on what you put into it.  Are you there going through the motions and playing it safe in your comfort zone, or are you making a concerted effort to obtain the maximum benefit from your experience?  I encourage you to consider the following.


Plan Ahead

Take some time to plan out your schedule.  Use the Session Planner to review the list of concurrent sessions available, and target the ones you know you want to attend that you think will provide you the most value.  But leave yourself some flexibility to change your mind, and have back up plans in place: anyone who has attended before knows that some sessions will fill up, and you may need to move on to your second choice.  Furthermore, if the session you choose doesn’t meet your expectations or isn’t what you thought it would be, don’t be afraid to walk out and join another session!  This is your time, don’t waste it in a session that does nothing for you.  And don’t feel guilty about it.  And don’t forget to download the Conference App on your smart phone or tablet to keep information and your schedule at your fingertips.


Challenge Yourself

Sure, you could choose to attend sessions on topics familiar to you and stick with your comfort zone.  But with so many topics across 7 different tracks, why not expose yourself to something new?  This is your chance to expand your horizons beyond the scope of your everyday job.  Why not choose a mix of sessions that both enhance your current knowledge and also stretch your mind a bit?


Don’t Try To Do It All

This may seem to go against convention, but don’t feel as if you have to pack your schedule every day.  It’s okay if you decide you don’t want to attend a session during one of the time frames.  Figure out what works best for you.  Perhaps you’re an early riser; get up and take advantage of the 7:00 AM sessions, and then maybe sneak away for a break in the later afternoon.  Or if you prefer to rise a little later, take advantage of the sessions later in the day.  Whatever your preference, don’t be afraid to allow yourself some downtime to process what you’ve learned and recharge when you need it.


Try Something Different

Sure, the primary reason for attending the conference is for the sessions.  But there are a variety of happenings beyond the general and concurrent sessions that can provide just as much value.  Visit the Expo Hall and talk to some vendors, or at least get a feel for the types of solutions that are out there.  Check out some of the Smart Stage presentations for info in quick and actionable 15 minute blocks.  Visit the SHRM Bookstore and pick up a few new titles to take home with you.  There’s a lot to be experienced outside of traditional sessions!



Some of the most valuable takeaways from your conference experience could come from the connections you make in the hallways between sessions, in the expo hall, or at the multitude of social events that will take place over the course of the four days.  Take advantage of the other HR pros that are there; there is a wealth of knowledge to be shared beyond the official sessions.  Talk to people.  Make new connections.  You never know how valuable they could be some day.  Instead of just going back to your hotel at the end of the day, attend some of the sponsored social events, or organize some outings of your own with new found friends; these are great ways to connect in a more meaningful way with people in a more relaxed atmosphere….and you may have a little fun while you’re at it!


Have Some Fun Too!

Let’s face it, it’s Vegas. There are a million and one things to do, even if you’re not a gambler.  It’s okay to allow yourself to have some fun outside of the conference.  I’m not suggesting all-nighters at the craps table or at Drai’s After Hours….but if you must, do yourself a favor and make sure you take your conference badge off first.


Most of all, enjoy your experience.  Good luck, learn a lot, and have fun!  See you in Vegas!


About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

What Happens In Vegas, Shouldn’t Stay In Vegas (In This Case…) #SHRM15 Preview

Posted on June 9th, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. No Comments

We’re just a few weeks out from the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference, happening this year from June 28th – July 1st in the mecca of all conference meccas, Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.  Vegas tends to be rather polarizing as far as conference goers are concerned; most either love attending conferences there, or despise it.  I’m personally in the “love it” camp, and am excited to be heading there for some learning, networking, reconnecting, and (of course) some fun on The Strip.

I’m also fortunate that for the third year in a row to be part of the official SHRM15 Blogging and Social Media Team.  That means I have the distinct pleasure of attending as a voice for the conference, helping the spread the word about all of the great conference related happenings, learnings, and general goings on.  I’ll be doing that through a combination of social media coverage and live tweeting of sessions, as well as coverage on this blog.

So what do we have in store for this year’s event, the ultimate annual gathering of HR practitioners and one of the crown jewels of the HR conference circuit?


General Sessions

Each day brings a different keynote speaker, typically big names who are brought in to inspire and motivate us as attendees to look beyond the day to day functions of our jobs and consider larger business and global issues and trends.  They tend to fit into specific categories or types of speakers – usually the celebrity or political figure, CEO type, management/HR pundit (or author), and the motivational speaker (credit to fellow blogger Matthew Stollak for coining the archetypes).  I’m not sure if this year’s fit exactly into those four categories, but it’s close.  We’ll be hearing from legendary NCAA basketball coach of the Duke Blue Devils Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, New York Times bestselling author Marcus Buckingham, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Mika Brzezinski, and celebrity surgeon and TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz.  Reactions to the Dr. Oz choice have been very mixed, and there’s been debate on social media regarding his relevance, so we’ll see where that one goes.  I’ll be highlighting key messages from these speakers throughout the conference.

On a side note, originally slated to speak was Sheryl Sandberg, but after the recent sudden and tragic passing of her husband Dave Goldberg, she was soon after replaced with Mika Brzezinski.  Though I would have loved to have the opportunity to hear her speak, my heart (and I’m sure the hearts of all SHRM15 attendees) goes out to her and the grief she’s enduring.


Concurrent Sessions

SHRM Annual offers over 200 concurrent sessions in six different tracks.  Though I never seem to be able to squeeze in as many as I’d like to attend, I always make a point to catch at least a few.   These sessions are typically where many of the practical tips, tricks, and lessons learned are shared, often by fellow practitioners or former practitioners.   Two sessions of note involve speakers who are affiliated with the blog: Trish McFarlane, one of my co-founders, will be presenting with Steve Boese on “After the Contracts are Signed: Key to Successful HR Technology Implementation.”  And contributing writer Donna Rogers will be teaming up with fellow SHRM15 blogger Dave Ryan to discuss “Running an HR Department of One.”


The Smart Stage

Making its debut last year at SHRM14 in Orlando, the Smart Stage (last year situated just outside of the Expo Hall) offers 15-18 minute TED-like talks given on a variety of topics, and conveniently grouped together in blocks of three to four sessions with breaks for Q&A in between.  I had the opportunity to present on the Smart Stage last year, and feedback in general about the format was very positive.  It was a quick and easy way to catch some very informative presentations on actionable topics; with the short talks grouped together, it’s an efficient way to soak in knowledge on various subjects all in one timeframe, helping you make the most of your time.


Social Events

Conferences as large as SHRM Annual always offer numerous social opportunities, typically sponsored by various vendors.  With this year’s conference location being Las Vegas, with its multitude of bars, restaurants, clubs, and other entertainment venues, I suspect it will be no exception.  Information on such events tends to come out fast as furious in the weeks leading up to the conference, so inevitably we’ll begin to hear more soon.  These events offer the perfect opportunity for additional networking, and a chance to get to know all of your new connections a little better outside the confines of a session room.  I recommend seeking out the ones that sound most appealing to you and checking them out.  And hey, you’ll probably even get a free drink and some appetizers as part of the deal!

So if you’re attending the conference, be sure to engage in all of the opportunities available to you.  If you’re on Twitter, tweet along with the #SHRM15 hashtag and join in the discussion.  Connect with me and my fellow bloggers for in the moment updates.  And if you’re not able to be there, you can still follow along with conference happenings by following the hashtag and checking out updates here and from all of the official SHRM15 bloggers.

See you in Vegas!


About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

Happiness vs. Complacency – #NYSHRM14

Posted on October 1st, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. 2 comments


“If you limit yourself to what’s comfortable, you deny yourself what’s possible.”


This week I’m at the 2014 New York State SHRM Conference in my hometown of Buffalo.  At the time I’m writing this, we’re about three quarters of the way through the conference and have seen four of the five keynote speakers.  As you’d expect, and as is typical of conferences such as these, the keynote speakers had numerous what we would call “tweetable moments” – tidbits of information that translate very easily into 140 or less character tweets.  These are typically key ideas and calls to action, and if you search the #NYSHRM14 hashtag you’ll see many of them.  But amid all of the ideas shared by the speakers, I keep coming back to the one above.  This particular nugget came from Sunday night’s keynote Dan Thurmon, who entertained the crowd with his juggling and unicycling skills while encouraging us to live life “Off Balance on Purpose.”


I think this idea resonates so much with me because it’s something that is so easy to forget.  We get comfortable.  We tell ourselves that this comfort equals happiness.  But does it?  Is it happiness, or is it complacency?  I was reminded of Robin Roberts in her keynote at SHRM National this year, when she encouraged attendees to be thankful and grateful for what we have, but never, ever get content; always ask yourself if you’re ready for something more, something bigger.


The danger when we get complacent is that we stop challenging ourselves.  We convince ourselves it’s good enough.  It’s easy.  It’s routine.  We’re happy.  Right?  Right??  Or are we really just complacent?


In our personal and professional lives, in the midst of the frenetic pace many of us maintain, sometimes it’s just easier to be content with where we are.  Life’s pace can get tiring, and it becomes easy to say we don’t have the energy to push ourselves further.  It’s too much effort.  And besides, we’re happy.  We have the right balance.  But as Dan Thurmon reminded us, there is no such thing as sustainable perfect balance…and even if there was, it would get boring fast.


Are we happy? Is the illusion of balance really making us happy?  Or again, is it simply complacency?


When we’re complacent, we stop learning, we stop growing… we stop bettering ourselves, our lives, our companies, our personal situations.


Are we actually ready for more?  Do we deserve better?


Tuesday morning’s keynote Mark Murphy, author of “Hundred Percenters” aligned with this message by reminding us that “no great accomplishment happens within our comfort zone.” Great accomplishments are hard, require learning something new, and require pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone.  We can’t accomplish anything worthwhile without effort, without pushing outside what we know and what we’re comfortable with, without stepping into a little uncertainty.  I think that goes for each of us in both our personal and professional lives.  Keynote speaker Jennifer McClure shared with us a personal story about how and why should “step out” – to face fears, uncertainty, and even naysayers and just go for it; to believe in ourselves and take risks to strive for bigger and better things.


Stepping out can be scary….but I think it’s worth it.


So I ask you, what are you ready to do? What are you going to change?  What are you going to stop just accepting?  As HR professionals.  As business people.  As humans.


How are you going to embrace possibility?


Photo Credit

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

Closing Thoughts From #SHRM14 – Transformation

Posted on June 26th, by Jennifer Payne in SHRM Chapters and Conferences. 2 comments


The theme of the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference, and one that manifested in a number of ways throughout the course of the four days.  The keynote speakers touched on it.  Many of the concurrent and Smart Stage sessions reinforced it.  But the question is, did the HR professionals that attended walk away ready to assume a transformational mindset?

I found it encouraging that by design the programming of SHRM Annual seemed to promote the idea of transformation.  Of course the keynote speakers supported the idea, as you would expect they would; any good keynote will bring the theme of the conference into their message in some way.  Robin Roberts encouraged us to be grateful for what we have, but never stop striving for the next thing, for something bigger, and encouraged us to put ourselves in position for great things to happen.  Tom Friedman focused on our hyper-connected world, and how that changes not only how we work as HR professionals, but how that fundamentally changes our workplaces, the expectations of our employees, and the necessary skill sets for success going forward.  And David Novak talked about the need for HR professionals to start thinking and acting like marketers, that we are the keepers of the message of what it means to work for our companies, perhaps a mindset shift for many.

But beyond the messages of the keynotes, I also found it encouraging that many of the concurrent sessions focused on topics intended to facilitate a transformational mindset.  Sessions like Jason Lauritsen’s “HR as Social Architect” where he discussed the idea of building and harnessing not just the human capital of our workplaces, but also the social capital of our workforces in an effort to leverage the power of the collective.  Jessica Miller-Merrell discussed how we can use social media as a low or no cost way to engage and communicate with our employees.  And Trish McFarlane and Steve Boese demystified the process of working with HR technology vendors to effectively select and implement the right solutions to make our jobs more efficient.  All of these sessions had good sized audiences, which validates that HR pros have an appetite to learn not just about how to deal with the tactical issues that we face day to day, but also about these more transformative topics.

One of the biggest changes to SHRM Annual programming this year was the addition of The Connection Zone, and specifically the Smart Stage.  Now I may be a little biased since I was a speaker on the Smart Stage myself, but the concept itself was intriguing, and yes, a bit transformational for SHRM Annual….fifteen to eighteen minute presentations on a variety of actionable topics, programmed together in groups of three so that attendees could get a sampling of a variety of information within a one-hour timeframe, complete with Q&A with the speakers afterwards.  And many of the topics presented were focused on technology, discussions of current trends, or predictions for future trends.  I found myself migrating back to the Smart Stage numerous times throughout the course of the conference for the opportunity to soak in some ideas quickly and efficiently.  Perhaps this was the beginning of a shift in the way we present information in conference settings?

Though there’s still a lot of work to do to get us ready to handle the changes in our workplaces that are coming (and in some cases already here) as a result of advances in technology and the hyper-connected and transparent world in which we now live, I walked away from the conference excited about the shifts that I saw, and excited to help promote that transformational mindset shift among my colleagues and peers.  As a profession, I think we are beginning to take the right steps.  The question remains, how many of us as a collective body of professionals are ready to join in and make that shift?  Will you join in the shift?