Two months from now thousands of HR Professionals (and a enough amateurs to make it interesting) will descend on New Orleans for the 2017 Society of Human Resource Management annual conference. There will be parties. There will be regrets. There will be 100s of trade show booths. There will be a few (many?) who will make the parties but not the booths (slackers!) There will be swag – some great – some squeeze balls and pens. And most importantly, there will be bloggers documenting, commenting, satirizing, and complaining about the conference. I’m one of those bloggers who will be part of what is affectionately known as the “blog squad.” You can see all the deplorables on the squad and other info on the #TheSHRM17Blog: #SHRM17 Bloggers are “All In” – Online and IRL. The list is impressive. Except for that @IncentIntel guy. Must be nepotism.

My Agenda

Everyone has a different reason for attending SHRM. For some it’s to stay up on new ideas. Others, it’s about connecting and networking. For me it is a little of column A and a little of column B. I have an obligation to the team to cover as much as I can, but I also have some personal things I’d like to scope out while wearing down the shoe leather. Specifically, I want to dig in and find companies and stories around these 3 things.

How can we train better managers?

Manager training is the huge elephant in the employee engagement room. I’m not saying we don’t need a systemic answer to engagement – we do. But we CONTINUE to try to use technology to solve the human problem of poor management. Trust me – I can drive engagement through the roof with 10 well-trained managers and an abacus. I don’t need tech. I need teach! I need managers who know how to connect with employees at a personal level. I need managers who know how to convert company goals into personal goals. I need find a better way to help managers connect someone’s personal “why” to the company’s profit “why”. I’ll be looking for that. Hit me in the comments with clues and help if you know where I can find it.

How do we find positive deviants in the organization?

There is always a bias that solutions to my company problems can only be found outside my company. I mean – I wouldn’t have this problem if the answer were in my company, right? Wrong. Many, many, many, many (too many?) times the answer IS in your company. I call them positive deviants. People who are doing things differently and getting different results. One of my first questions to my consulting clients is, “Is there anywhere, any department, division where they are getting the type of results you’d like to see across the organization?” And there usually is. Someone is doing something that is getting the results they want. Copy that! Lather, rinse, repeat organization-wide. Too often we overlook the genius INSIDE our companies. I want to find a better way to identify that genius. Is it a tech solution? Is it a training solution? I don’t know. I’ll be scouting for positive deviants in my SHRM17 tradeshow walkabouts. Let me know how you have solved this or point me toward some deviants.

How can we reduce HR Administrivia?

HR seems to always find itself pulled into the administrative black hole of people data. I always find it interesting that HR is responsible for making sure employees fill out forms, update contact information, connect with payroll, fill out the “legal” forms. Why do we give every department in the company permission to outsource their administrative needs to HR? Some will argue that a central source of control is needed, but is the question really about having a central database – not a central manager? As a manager, I always saw it as my responsibility to make sure my team members had their stuff together and had filled out the forms needed to have a good personal and professional life. I never saw that as an HR responsibility. To that end I’ll be looking for HRIS type tech that in effect – bypasses HR and goes direct to the manager – alerting them to the fact that there are people on their team that aren’t getting their “administration” lives together. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t see how HR can be planning for the workforce of the future if they are also trying to make sure Mark in accounting has his new address in the system.

Those are my top 3.

I keep an ongoing OneNote (experimenting with as an Evernote replacement) list of things I think about related to SHRM. By June I might have a few more on my list and will ping you if I think it might interest you.

In the meantime, if you’re in HR or if you’re HR-Adjacent – consider taking some time to visit SHRM17 in New Orleans. I have found this conference to always have a positive payoff – increasing my knowledge and increasing my network.

Both of which should ALWAYS be on your to-do list!