What I Learned at HIRE MINDS … if I could write about it

As most of you know, I write under my childhood nickname. Like many, my employer is nervous about the impact information posted online can have on their reputation and wants no association with my writings. So the specifics of any stories I share are changed to protect the innocent (or not so innocent) and all thoughts are my own.

My blog-life and work-life collided for the first time last week when I attended the Hire Minds Hourly Hiring Summit hosted by Snagajob. This is the 3rd year for the event, held in Williamsburg, Virginia. Most of the attendees are HR (recruiting, staffing, generalists) or Operations professionals from recognizable retailers like Toys R Us, Chipotle and Autozone. Among the speakers for this year’s event was Ben Eubanks, who spoke about trends and assets to using social media to promote your employment brand. I’ve followed Ben on twitter for almost a year and even gave “honey” to him in one of my mid-week posts. Since I was going for work and not myself, I felt torn about introducing myself and tweeting from the event, and I didn’t know if I should write about the event on the blog.

Ultimately, I chose to introduce myself to Ben (who is every bit as awesome “in real life” as he is electronically) and I sent a few tweets during his session. But that was all. And I decided NOT to write about my experience at the event — but if I was going to write about it, this is how it would go …

What I loved about being at Hire Minds was the opportunity to spend time with other HR pros who understand and appreciate the struggles of being an administrator in a retail environment. It really is a unique sect of HR. We deal with a highly decentralized workforce who can span across the country, come from several generations, and bring varied motivations and committment levels to the job. Our employee base has various but generally limited levels of education as well as exposure and understanding of technology. And because profit margins are razor thin, HR deals with even less resources and gains even less attention than it does in most other organizations.

At Hire Minds, these weary HR warriors get to spend 2 1/2 days together, sharing frustrations, horror stories, best practices, tips and pitfalls to avoid. We walk away feeling heard and understood, refreshed and renewed, validated and appreciated with new additions to our LinkedIn networks and a bag of really great swag!

However, what’s odd, interesting and awesome is these professionals are talking about the same things other HR professionals from other areas and industries: recruiting, interviewing, hiring, onboarding, training, development, compliance and relations, tracking metrics in a meaningful way and social media presence. Once again, HR is HR is HR is HR and there is really nothing new under the HR sun. Once again, this fact is both sobering and hopeful.

So here’s a rundown of my favorite takeaways from the event, in no particular order:

  • Empowering employees means making sure they are confident in their ability and comfortable enough with themselves to use their skills to achieve your organization’s goal
  • Organization’s rarely make money by cutting costs. Instead, work at achieving excellence and the rest will follow
  • The difference between extra ordinary and extraordinary is a matter of degrees. Master that degree.
  • Blowing things up is not always the best approach. Sometimes it is better to dissect and deconstruct to understand the who, what, where, when, why and how of something
  • Redefine what “stakeholder” means for your organization. There’s more than just the C-suite with skin in the game. Learn to work across departments
  • If you don’t define your brand, others will define it for you
  • Praise effort but only reward results. What you recognize and give attention to communicates your standard of excellence
  • Your hiring process gives employees their first impression of your organization. Make sure it says what you want it to say about you — because even if the person isn’t selected to work there, they need to respect your organization enough to remain a customer and recommend you to others
  • Social media isn’t going anywhere. Customers and employees will talk about you online. It is inevitable. Give them great things to talk about. Add your own voice to amplify and/or balance theirs

Great event, great lessons. I hope to attend next year … as me.

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