Reflections on #SHRM14 - Transforming HR and Others around You

Guest Contributorby Shawna McKnight | Posted | Industry Buzz

Reflections on #SHRM14 - Transforming HR and Others around You

Robin Roberts, well-known television host and cancer survivor, set the stage for the focus of the entire 2014 SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) annual conference in her opening keynote about “transformation.” Robin shared her life’s ups and downs and motivated others to learn from all experiences, good and bad.  

She encouraged the over 13,000 SHRM14 attendees to understand the purpose of life’s ups and down and to stay optimistic when confronting challenges. To transform your life; to “make your mess your message.”

I never really thought about embracing the “mess” of life and owning it. Her perspective struck a chord, particularly where she shared that the tragedy of life is not tragedies in and of themselves; but rather, the tragedy is when we don’t look at our life experiences as an opportunity to transform or learn. Robin Schooling sums up Robert’s keynote nicely – check out her June 22nd blog post on HR Schoolhouse.

The shifting focus of HR

As my colleague and I attended sessions over the next few days we noticed a common trend. The sessions were all well aligned to the overarching theme of transformation and identified the shifting focus of HR

I even transformed myself to become a morning person, attending my first concurrent session at 7am on a Monday! It was well worth it. Michelle Ray’s very energetic session on “No More Drama: How to Build High Engagement, High Morale and a Happier Workplace” was all about inspiring HR professionals to raise themselves above the drama and “be the best you can be.”  

Michelle got a lot of nods from the crowd with one of her key messages knowing the difference between people who “have” problems and people who “are” problems; to keep in mind that not every individual can be transformed, they have to want it.

Engage and create a high performing workforce

I spent most of my time attending sessions in the Business Management and Strategy track. These sessions really stressed the importance HR plays in driving organizational strategy and culture. Sessions were beyond tactical HR, focusing more on the transformation to strategic HR. Yes, there’s that word transformation again.

Sessions focused on developing leadership skills that empower and develop the skills of your people so you can help them reach their full potential. The conference wasn’t just about compensation structures, job descriptions, compliance and competency models. Instead there was a deliberate focus on how to build employee engagement, develop a strong corporate culture, identify and develop key talent, and reward and recognize performance.

The conference also focused on how HR can develop their own leadership skills and those of other leaders in the organization so that leaders at all levels are equipped to help employees reach their full potential.

Perfect example: in his day two keynote, CEO of Yum! Brands, David Novak, shared the secrets of “unleashing the power of people” to grow a successful company. I was moved by his positive energy and inspired by his message and funny stories about recognizing the strengths of others. As he puts it “the more I give, the more I receive.”

His message was about putting people first:

“When you think about what you need to get done in your company, you know you can’t get it done by yourself. There is no way you can get something done without taking people with you.”

With transformation comes change

SHRM14 sessions did not neglect to point out that with transformation comes change. The key is to understand the impact – both immediate and long term — and to help your organization prepare. HR’s role is one of influencer; HR is the agent of change for an organization, setting the action plan and communicating the impact and value of change to the organization.

I certainly plan to apply what I learned at #SHRM14 to Halogen’s business consulting services portfolio. Now if I could only come up with a strategy be an energized and motivated morning person!

Your Turn: Did you attend SHRM14? Share with us what you learned! 

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