I had the opportunity this year to attend the SHRM 2012 Annual Conference and Exposition for the first time this year. This year's event brought nearly 16,000 HR professionals to Atlanta, GA for four days of learning and connecting, and I was honored and privileged to be among them.
For our readers who were not able to attend (and even for those who were) I wanted to share my observations and take aways from the experience.
I quickly realized that at a conference as large as this one, it is simply not possible to do, see, and learn everything that you want to, so my strategy became focused on finding a few gems of wisdom to bring back. The keynote speakers offered many:
- Condoleezza Rice spoke about role models and mentors and encouraged attendees to broaden their minds as they looked for theirs. To her, role models and mentors don't need to look like you, they simply need to have an interest in you. For us, the Women of HR, this is a useful message. Though it's beneficial to find successful women to emulate, that's not to say we cannot learn from and be mentored by the successful men around us.
- Malcolm Gladwell spoke of the new generational paradigm and how Millenials have a profoundly different notion of how social organizations behave. Our role as HR professionals is to bridge the gap between the Millenials' flexible, decentralized, network focused view of the workplace, and the traditional structured hierarchical view. There are benefits and drawbacks to both; we must figure out how to harness the power of each.
- Jim Collins challenged us to aspire to be the dumbest person in the room as that's what great leaders do. As we grow and develop in our roles as leaders, one of the wisest things we can do is surround ourselves with people who know more than we do; by doing this it challenges us to keep stretching our own capabilities and mak
es our teams that much stronger.
- Tom Brokaw reminded us that the latest generation to enter the workforce is coming out of school with a wariness for institutions and an entrepreneurial mindset. As HR leaders we need to figure out how to welcome them into our workplaces as encourage and motivate them to their fullest potential. He also said that the 21st century will be the century of women; some say it already is. Either way, we will have increasing responsibilities within our organizations and society as a whole.
But beyond the speakers, sessions, and nuggets of wisdom, the thing that struck me the most about being in attendance at SHRM was incredible feeling of being in the presence of so many fellow HR professionals with a passion for what we do. The camaraderie was palpable, especially if you embraced the opportunities to network and took advantage of the social engagements available to attendees.
We're living in a changing world and working in a changing industry, but being there, among my colleagues from around the country and the world, I couldn't help but to feel, in the wise words of Tom Brokaw, “we're all in this together.”
If you'd like to read about other attendees' and bloggers' impressions and leanings from the SHRM conference, you can search the #SHRM12 hash tag on Twitter or visit SHRM's Buzz site at http://buzz.annual.shrm.org/
About the author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR is experienced in employee relations, employment/staffing and training & development. She currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry and is honored to be in the company of such talented and seasoned Women of HR bloggers. Jen is a fan of happy hours, hockey, traveling and connecting with interesting people. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn as Jennifer Payne, SPHR.
I’ve started journaling. I know, I know. The idea of journaling sounds a little hokey and geared toward someone with plenty of time on their hands and not something for working women like you and me.
In fact, if you are anything like me, you gave up on journaling sometime around 9th grade when you read through your 8th grade journal entries and discovered how theatrical you sounded. Hindsight helped you realize that spilling your soup in the Jr. High lunch line really wasn’t the end of the world.
More recently, I have been so remiss on logging my life chronicles that both my daughters’ baby books are definitely thinner than they ought to be.
So why take it up now when I am lucky if I get a 10 minute jog in a couple times a week or a brief daily synopsis with my husband? The idea of creating a happiness journal came to me after reading several articles geared towards increasing your happiness.
One of the repeated suggestions was to make it a priority to recognize what makes you grateful each and every day so I decided to take 2 minutes each day after lunch to jot down something(s) that I was thankful for in the past 24 hours. I called this my happiness journal and I resolved to look back after a month and identify themes.
Aside from having and mothering two very spirited girls, this is one of the best things I have done. I can say that after my month long happiness journal experiment, I will keep at this exercise and I encourage each of my clients to do the same. Here are 4 reasons why:
- Validation. For me, I found validation in that I love what I do. I love helping people formulate career plans that assist them in achieving their career goals. Most of my entries included a quick statement such as “made my day to hear ______ got a second interview after our coaching session.”
- Passion Identification. Journaling can help you identify an unknown passion. One client I work with did this exercise for several weeks and was surprised to learn that more often than not she was grateful for teaching moments; times when she helped a colleague learn something new. This new found knowledge has inspired her to go for more managerial roles within her organization.
- Carpe Diem, “Seize the day.” Journaling has helped motivate me to live in the moment with my family and really aim to revel in those sweet moments of nighttime rituals, rowdy playtime, and innocent discovery that inhabits every day with small children. Admittedly, I still struggle in the whole carpe diem idea when I am checking out at the grocery store with both girls in tow and one is walking towards a perfect stranger’s cart hoping to find a toy inside and the other is reaching for the M&M’s at checkout. I am a work in progress, what can I say?
- More Happiness. This is the whole point, right? Living a life of gratitude is good for the soul. I found taking 2 minutes out of my day to recognize all the good and decent things that occur in my life absolutely made me a happier person. Just ask my husband, coworkers, and children!
Try journaling. Give a couple minutes a day to discover what a daily documentation of your gratitude can do for you and your life.
Photo credit iStockphoto
I used to think I needed to find passion in work.
There are things I feel passionate about – such as creating a work environment where employees feel like they can bring their full selves to work and be engaged to do their best work. But as far as feeling passionate every single day?
Nein. I don’t come to work every day because I feel passionate about my work; rather I come to work every day because I have bills to pay and prefer to have a roof over my head. I am part of Gen Y which I suppose by association makes me lazy and want things handed to me on a silver spoon. I don’t really operate that way, but that is the stereotype.
Me? I need passion in my work. I work much harder and more diligently towards the things I feel passionate about. Does this mean I don’t do the things I feel “eh” about? No, I’d get fired. Here’s my realization. Take it for what it is worth:
- I will not love every job I have during my career
- I will not love every aspect of every job I have during my career
- Ultimately, we work to pay bills
If the goal in life was to feel a sense of passion for what we are doing, money would not be an issue and we’d all be out working towards causes we ARE passionate about. Or, doing the things we always said we wanted to do, but never wanted to take a chance to do and I am including myself in this statement.
Really, if we all just LOVED what we did, we wouldn’t be talking about work/life balance all the time. It would just be a part of life. Okay, maybe that is a bit of a stretch, but you understand where I am going there. I enjoy my job but saying I feel passionate about being a human punching bag most days is kind of a stretch.
Photo credit iStockphoto
Recently I attended the Ohio HR Conference, HR Rocks!! As part of the planning committee, it was a great experience for many reasons.
One reason it was so great was that we told attendees they could wear jeans. Amazing how something so simple could set the tone for the week. Our committee wore tie-dye all week with our jeans and invited people to relax in our lounge filled with lava lamps, candles and incense – at an HR Conference!
One experience last week has stuck with me the most . . .
During lunch on Thursday, our 770+ attendees and our 160+ resource partners all gathered to savor the incredible Fajita Bar. Plates were loaded beyond capacity and hands were full as people approached a separate beverage station to grab a glass of water, lemonade or ice tea. The Kalahari staff were so amazing the whole week – especially here. But, even as much as they tried, the line continued to grow and grow and grow.
Before the week started, I told my Committee that I wanted to set a new expectation for us and the Conference attendees. I wanted us to serve them in ways they hadn’t experienced at a conference before. To make sure I didn’t fall into the classic HR trap of – just tell people what you expect and they’ll do it – I made sure to model this behavior.
So, I jumped in the front of the beverage line and started greeting everyone as they came up and handed them a glass full of ice. Then, the phenomenal team of Joan, Sonja and Keysha poured everyone’s liquid of choice and made sure to get more glasses to keep up with the demand. After stepping in, you started to hear laughing, see big smiles and positive comments from everyone instead of typical frustration with having to wait on service.
People said, “Wow, service with a smile!” I couldn’t resist but responding with, “Better than service with a scowl, huh?” It was the most rewarding 1/2 hours of the entire conference. We were able to serve our guests so that they could enjoy their lunch. Also, the staff from Kalahari saw that their work added immense value by meeting a simple need for others.
It’s time for HR to shift to a new approach. Instead of trying to mandate policies, force conformity and compliance at all costs, or be the function that polices vs. leads – we need to MODEL THE BEHAVIOR WE EXPECT FROM OTHERS.
We can’t keep expecting change to magically happen because we’ve come up with the next great “best practice.” Model behavior. It’s that simple.
To prove that point, Sonja, Joan, Keysha and I became tight. The rest of the week, I sought them out and they did likewise. I heard they even talked about the tall guy in the tie-dye shirt who jumped into help without asking if it was okay. They were some of the final hugs at the end of the week and I’m sure they will continue to be amazing.
Where can you change and model what you’d like to see? Try something this week and you’ll be astonished at the results!
It’s hard to think about work while on vacation, much less write about it. But I will because it’s my turn.
Some of you know me. For those who don’t, I travel through life with a Nikon camera over my shoulder and a German shepherd dog underfoot. Staples for me.
During the day, I am an HR practitioner at a college in Michigan. I am fortunate; I really love my job. I work with amazing people and get to do very cool stuff. I haven’t always been in jobs, with amazing people, doing work that I loved. Sometimes it paid the bills. And that’s what was needed at the time.
Laurie Ruettiman wrote a fabulous piece about essentially forgetting passion, just do your work. I am paraphrasing, but it is a really good post. I see too many articles on Twitter, in career advice columns, from so-called experts (who isn’t an expert these days?), advising you to do what you love and are passionate about.
This notion has always made me a bit uncomfortable; as if you aren’t doing what you love, finding your passion, experiencing joy in your work, then YOU are doing something wrong. Your job doesn’t have to, nor should it, fill ever bodily void of curiousity, creativity and wonder. That’s what cameras are for. Or whatever your own interests may be.
I whole-heartily embrace Kahlil Gibran’s perspective on work from the Prophet,
You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.
Work gives me structure, a sense of accomplishment and contribution, a place for me to give and get. With a fair amount of down time the last few weeks, I reflected on two questions:
What am I doing when I lose track of time and hours feel like seconds?
What am I doing when I think that I am going to die of complete and utter boredom before the world ends? When time stands still?
I love these questions. They make me think and, in a curious way, help me to say “No” when approached to do something where perhaps I feel obligated. They are my litmus test.
Time flies when … I pick up my camera, sit on my beach, play with my dog. Whips by like it’s on steroids. Any time I sit and talk with a colleague or an employee, work with teams, collaborate on new ideas around technology or workflow, the end of the day has already passed. Any time I get to talk to students, present in a class, do some advising, or listen to dreams and hopes around careers, it’s the blink of any eye. I get energized just thinking about it.
The world stops spinning when … I am cleaning the bathrooms, culling through painful details of complex immigration instructions or sitting in meetings where I know nothing will happen or get resolved until the meeting AFTER the meeting. Suffocatingly still. Each minute is an hour. Or two.
But it’s manageable because I have all the good stuff. The dog. The camera. Other stuff. Most days, the good stuff makes the dreadful stuff quite tolerable. Time away allows me to recharge and refresh; coming back to meetings and details will be okay.
So here’s to hoping you get to do a little of what you love wherever you are.
Photo by Deirdre Honner
Why do you work?
Do you work because you have to? Do you work because you want to? Do you work with passion? Or, do you work out of fear? So many times when I ask people what they do and how they got into a particular field, I am often amazed when I hear them tell me their reasons.
“I don’t know…it’s just something to do.”
“It’s not great, but it pays the bills.”
“It’s just a job. I have a family to take care of.”
Now, I will not sit here and tell you that these are not all good reasons to work. We all need to make a living, to provide a way for ourselves and our families, and to have some purpose in our lives. But, what I want to warn you all about is falling into the dreaded hole of working out of fear instead of out of passion.
Working out of fear is simply working for the sake of working. You make decisions that are safe and that you know will not “rock the boat.”.You don’t take chances, make risky suggestions, or think of innovative, off the cuff, potentially life-changing (ok…maybe just industry changing) initiatives. You go through your day doing just enough, flying under the that invisible radar, hoping that another year will go by and that you will get that 2% annual pay increase you’ve been looking forward to all year. You don’t strive for anything better. You survive off of doing just the bare minimum.
Why do we work out of fear? Well, for starters, we don’t want to lose our jobs. I mean, that’s a no-brainer, right? Especially in this day and age, when the economy is still in the crapper, unemployment rates are hovering in the double-digit region, and companies are wavering on whether to hire, lay-off or remain stagnant. But, and here is the golden nugget of knowledge you have been waiting for, working out of fear will more than likely cost you your job…not shield you from the ill-fated unemployment lines. Working out of fear has the opposite effect that you want (or secretly hope) it has.
Let’s go back to the fact that we are still in the day of a weakened economy, where companies are still looking at ways to grow/improve/compete/stay alive while also being cost conscious, and people are looking for work in droves. Now more than ever, you need to work with passion. You need to work with such purpose and innovation that your company would be foolish to think they could succeed without you. You have to understand your business and your industry, think ahead, make risky recommendations, be strategic, and above all else…don’t simply exist in your job!
It takes passion to get to this level. You have to be passionate about what you do in order to truly take the time to understand your business/industry. Being passionate will equip you with the desire to learn and absorb all you can about what you do and that knowledge will arm you with the data and ideas to make those seemingly risky (but innovative and potentially powerful) recommendations. That knowledge and understanding that you have built up will allow you to be more strategic (knowing and understanding the business and how you make an impact on the business being rule numero uno for being more strategic), which will in turn take you from merely existing in your job to truly living it.
And in the end, isn’t living, especially living a life with passion, what really matters?
Photo credit iStockphoto
In the mad pace of the work world, do you take time to reflect at all? Really. Do you reflect or do you react?
Most HR people I know constantly share with me that they react more often than anything in their daily jobs. Part of this is a fact of being in HR because people can be unpredictable. (That’s one of the things that makes working with people so cool!)
I had a conversation recently with some people about the challenge of having people report to you. It really is daunting if you think about it. It’ s not just a matter of performance reviews, systems and tasks. When someone reports to you, they are at the mercy of your decisions for their careers and their daily work experience.
So, back to the reflection question. Do you think about how you affect those that report to you or work with you? Do they matter to you or are they just a means to an end to get work done? This is something to really look at.
Think about this . . . you are with the people you work with more each day than anyone else including family and friends. This alone should be a motivator to really check into what matters to those around you.
What would work be like if you shared what mattered to you with those that report to you or work with you? You’d be amazed at the depth and vibrancy you’d find in the people you sometimes won’t even take the time to say, “Hi” to because it’s too important to get to that critical e-mail that you just HAVE to answer.
Try a new approach this week. Take a deep breath and go out into your work environment. Talk to the people that you spend each day with and see what matters to them. You’ll start to understand what true diversity is because it’s all around you just waiting to be tapped.
Need to go now. More great humans to hang out with!
When you are working on a project and it brings you so much excitement and energy that you are ready to tell anybody about it at any time, you are on to something. I have a project that I am working on and I am passionate about it. I also need your help.
I have a strong belief that people should work very hard to find what they do in life that really gives them energy and then find a way to pursue that activity in their career aspirations. For example, if you are passionate about colors and how they work together, then you should work really hard to find a way to incorporate that into your career aspirations. Get involved in textile design, photography, painting, stage lighting, interior design, graphic arts, cosmetic sales – anything that lets you get your energy from the things you love. So how has that turned into a project?
I am creating a series of children’s books. Right now the concepts are coming together, but the project is still in its infancy. I want three types of books. I want to open up the minds of young children for careers they may want to pursue beyond the traditional athlete, policeman or nurse that they already get exposure to daily. Those are worthy and critical careers, but what if you really love building things? I want to open their eyes to all kinds of things that they could build, depending on the type of building they love. I later want to move to a more structured series of books for middle school students that starts to more clearly illustrate their future and find their passions. Lastly a system for high school students to help them find college programs and careers that will lead them to a fulfilled life. There are brilliant people that have never been matched to the right programs, because they were simply unaware of the fields of study available. That is a shame.
How can you help me? I want to collect stories from people that have volunteer or career activities that they absolutely love. Then, find the ties back to childhood that showed they likely loved it back then. I had an uncle that encouraged me to make up stories in the genre of native Indian folk lore. I LOVED telling stories and it taught me the power of a great analogy to grab the imagination. I was about 35 years old when I realized the impact of Virgil’s early prompting on my love for selling my ideas.
Also, if any of you want to steal any of my ideas and create any of these projects, you are welcome. I simply want them created. I will either join you or add to the material in the market place. We need to work hard to bring information to our kids about how to contribute at their full potential. I firmly believe it best if you can contribute by being in the zone while you do your job. Wouldn’t it be great if huge numbers of people were working at their peak performance because they love what they do? Maybe along the way of teaching kids, we will get a few of their parents to think about the passions they have and how to incorporate them into their work.
So please post your stories here, or send me an email. If you have ideas about this project, please let me know. I am seeking ideas. I will keep you posted on my progress.
Photo credit iStockPhoto
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Why do you do what you do? Is it passion?
Best selling author, Daniel Pink, doesn’t talk about passion. In fact, he detests that question. In a recent article, Think Tank: Ever felt like your job isn’t what you were born to do? You’re not alone, he writes, ”So, as the economy comes back, and people begin pondering new opportunities, maybe we can take a break from this daunting and distracting question and ask a far more productive one, what do you do?”
Daniel asks questions like, ”What did you do last Saturday afternoon – for fun, for yourself? What books do you read or blogs do you visit, not for work, but just because you’re interested in them? What are you great at? What comes easily to you? What would you do – or are you already doing – for free?”
So now I’m asking you, the Women of HR community, ”What do you do and why do you do it?” Whether it’s the reasoning behind your career choice, your cat collection or your 100 scrap books I want to know why. I want to know why you are “sweeping the streets.”
If your answer is simply because, ”it’s your career,” then lets delve a little further. Do you do it for the rewards or the internal satisfaction or because you just fell into it and it pays the bills?
So come on folks, let the community know why you love being a street sweeper!
Image Source: Google
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
This is a question I like to ask in interviews, since it usually gets a more honest response than “what are your passions,” but that is, essentially, what I’m asking. I like to know what it is, inside, when the chips are down and things are maybe not going your way, that lights the internal fire within that gets you up, gets you motivated, and gets you out the door to your career.
Every now and then, I need to ask myself my own question.
Let’s face it, Human Resources is a profession that can be pretty thankless. Many people’s entire concept of HR will always be defined by the few professionals who give the profession a bad name, the ones who don’t learn the ins and out of their business, and are too in love with processes and procedures and tradition. When we go the extra mile, others claim the credit, but when things go south, blame is deflected our way. There are days where we become the company Cassandra, identifying stumbling blocks ahead but without, perhaps, the support needed from the company to properly prepare.
I’m sure I’m saying nothing that you don’t already know. What drives us on those days? What propels you forward, so that each year is a growth and development from the last?
Personally, I like to take a break, for a few minutes, on a rough day, and regroup. I think of the moments when I have really, truly, helped someone - when:
- I was in a position to make life easier for a while for someone in the company who was vulnerable.
- I was able to give someone an opportunity they may not have otherwise had.
- I guided someone to make the right decision, despite prejudice, history, or other pressures.
- I was able to remove obstacles from someone’s path.
- I created a support system that wasn’t there before.
- I gave the company a really, really good idea, and then made it happen.
These are the moments I’m proud of. I think about the ways I handled those issues and how far I’ve come.
What gets me out of bed in the morning is the thought of what’s next.
I’m excited about the possibilities, about learning more, about getting it right and becoming better at my career. I care, very much, and believe in what I’m doing. If the day comes when I don’t, I’ll find a new career. I promise. Until then, it never hurts, to remind myself of these things along the way.
How about you? What gets you out of bed in the morning? External motivators are great – who doesn’t love a paycheck, or to provide for family, of course – but what internal fire keeps you in your Human Resources career?
Note: This is my first post for Women of HR. I am so thrilled to be a part of this community.