One of my goals for 2012 was to attend 3 professional conferences to do strengthen and expand my connection to the people who support this journey I’m on. And I took the first step toward that goal when I ventured to New Orleans, Louisiana for the Louisiana SHRM State Conference last week!
The experience was everything I thought it would be — and so much more! Everyone I met was so warm and welcoming and as excited to meet me as I was to meet them. It was great to attend an event where I didn’t feel alone or uncertain of who I would “hang” with while I was there. Thanks to the last year I’ve spent engaged in social media, I walked into the conference feeling like I was reuniting with friends, instead of being anxious about encounters with strangers. And I left with more new friends and connections that I look forward to building on. And I can’t wait to do it again!!
I also learned some stuff. Great stuff! And I want to share the highlights with you …
- Cultivating the relationships in your professional network really matters. The conference opened with Talent Anarchy’s Joe Gerstandt and Jason Lauritsen, who recently published a book about harnessing the power of relationships to change your life (Everyone got complimentary copies courtesy of Coventry. I read half of it on the plane ride home. It’s awesome! Get it!) In the opening session, they talked about the importance of being intentional, deliberate and sincere in the relationships we initiate in order to cultivate them into something authentic and mutually beneficial. This means we cannot and should not just amass thousands of Twitter followers, Facebook friends, Linked-In connections, Google circles and a book full of business cards only to let them sit and do nothing with them. We should reach out to each other to learn more about each other to figure out how we can help each other to become our best selves. If we’re not doing that, we’re failing — as human resources professionals and as human beings.
- Care about people and remember they are individuals. I attended Dr. Tina Thomas’s session on dealing with difficult employee personalities. She reminded us that our personalities are imprinted by the time we are 6 years old and develops from there based on our experiences, positive or negative. People bring the personality and experiences with them to work each day, in addition to whatever things may be going on in their present circumstance. It impacts their work output and how they relate to others. HR has to be sensitive to this in their dealings with employees within the organization. Additionally, we have to remember our employees are influenced and motivated by many factors. Paul Hebert went into great depth about this in his session on influencing employee behavior. HR should not allow one-stop-shops for recognition and rewards with our employees. When we fail to recognize their individuality, we fail in finding the balance we need to successfully keep our employees engaged and productive.
- Always use our power for good. In the afternoon keynote session with CEOs Rose Hudson of the Louisiana Lottery Corporation and Hugh Weber of the New Orleans Hornets, they spoke of being open and candid with employees. HR has to be the standard-bearer for this. Organizations have a responsibility to help employees get where they want to be, not just trap them in the role they were hired to perform. Feedback should be welcomed and taken seriously, not twisted and used to discourage or push people out. Jason Lauritsen expanded on this in his session on understanding and playing the game of power and politics. All workplaces have politics and power structures — they are not good or bad; they just are. We have to learn it and work within it to effect the changes we want to see.
And this is just what happened DAY ONE!!!
I will share the Day Two stuff tomorrow. Stay tuned …