This year, I was given a great opportunity – attend my first SHRM national conference in New Orleans. I got to spend three days with 17,000 of my HR friends, meet the people I have been following and listening to, and learn from some smart speakers and attendees. It was amazing and downright exhausting.
Here are some of the things I took from the conference:
The worst loss to deal with is the loss of life and love, followed closely with trust. Kat Cole got everyone craving Cinnabon and thinking about how we build trust with the right doses of humility, curiosity, courage, and confidence. We fail when we’re too far away from the front lines of our business, are unwilling to do the right thing, and don’t change policies to keep up with the organization’s needs. We need to consider whether individuals can trust us, how we rebuild trust when we do something to harm it, and put integrity at the center of our organization.
Some healthy skepticism is important. Much of Laszlo Bock’s keynote was super – give your work meaning, trust your people, hire people better than you, etc. But when he discussed paying people “unfairly,” there was a healthy dose of skepticism from the audience and twitterers. Mr. Bock believes that you should pay people based on how well they perform and how much they are “all in.” These disparities can be up to double the amount you may pay someone else in the same role in Mr. Bock’s opinion. This is really something given Mr. Bock recently left Google where his pay practices are now subject to a significant lawsuit that The Guardian headlined as “extreme” gender discrimination. While I agree that paying people based on their performance is good in theory, when the discrepancies appear to include a dose of discrimination, we have a problem.
Be disruptive. Jennifer McClure‘s presentation about DisruptHR included some nuggets from these events, including my personal favorite, “Respect the data, but make human decisions.” Jennifer encouraged her audience to be disruptive, but that doesn’t mean that they need to revolutionize. Small changes can be disruptive too.
If you have a brain, you’re biased. Yes, I knew this before, but David Rock’s discussion on the neuroscience behind unconscious bias was great. Mr. Rock started out talking about how to sell diversity initiatives – it’s not just about improving the bottom line, it’s also about making better decisions. He spoke about how it is very difficult to work against individual biases, so work on the bias at work as a team. I was both fascinated and challenged by his presentation.
My favorite HR tweeple are super. I love Twitter. I’ve met some great people online, who I had not met in real life who I could call up to ask questions or ask for a smidge of reassurance. I got to meet these people IRL at SHRM, and they are just as cool, friendly, and smart in person. It was so great! John Friend is right, “SHRM is HR Christmas.”
I can’t wait to go again next year!