Takeaways, Lessons, and Links from Every Session I Attended at #SHRM17

Here are the key takeaways from every session I attended at the SHRM Annual Conference (#SHRM17) in New Orleans last week, complete with links for connecting with speakers and additional information.

Additionally, you can see every one of my #SHRM17 Tweets by clicking here.

The easy part is over. Time to begin the work of continuous learning.

Here we go: 


What Are You Waiting For? Finding the Courage to Make an Impact

Jason Lauritsen

The Big Idea: You can fix whatever you decide to. What are you waiting for?

This was the perfect session to start off #SHRM17.

Jason Lauritsen served up a great blend of action items and inspiration in his session, building on the message that we have a choice to change the things we want to change. At the start of a conference perhaps perfectly designed to provide the tools and resources necessary to do so, this message resonated with me, and I’m certain, fellow attendees.

The good stuff in work and life happens outside your comfort zone. What are you waiting for???

Keep Learning:

Book: Social Gravity     Website    Newsletter

Blog     Twitter    Facebook     LinkedIn


General Session: Sunday

Kat Cole

The Big Idea: Why spend time, money and effort on an initiative that doesn’t move the business forward?

Kat Cole’s career story was only outshone by her willingness to openly share her failures. This was refreshing in that it is rare to hear c-suite level executives tell the tale of their biggest goof ups, especially when they involve miscalculations that involved people, their motives, and business objectives. Her willingness to be transparent and share her story is no doubt part of what has made her incredibly successful.

Keep Learning:

Book: Small Changes, Big Impact

Twitter     Facebook     LinkedIn


Leading Through Change

Dr. Michelle Rozen

The Big Idea: Carrot and stick approaches to change do not work. Incentives and threats RARELY work in the long run.

If you’re keeping track, that’s THREE sessions in a row to start #SHRM17 that involve personal or organizational change. This theme was a welcome one to me, as I believe good HR happens at the intersection of all things HR, and change management. We need to be just as concerned with the PEOPLE SIDE OF CHANGE as we are the objectives of the organizations we work for.

Keep Learning:

Book: How to Build a Winning Company Culture

Website     Twitter     Facebook


General Session: Monday

Laszlo Block

The Big Idea: For too many people, the work experience is demeaning, it’s embarrassing. That experience is key to poor engagement? Who does their best when they’re miserable???

“Give your work meaning. Trust your people. Hire people better than you. Pay unfairly. Nudge – a lot. Enjoy, then go back to the beginning and start again”. Those are Laslo Block’s Work Rules, and they’re easier said than done. What stood out to me was the concept of nudges when it comes to change, and the potential to be had when 15,000+ people hear and take this message to heart.

Keep Learning:

Book: Work Rules     Twitter     LinkedIn


Rethinking HR

Ryan Estis

The Big Idea: Customers are changing their behaviors faster than companies can evolve. HR is in a position to make an impact, but the nature of our work needs to change.

If you want to win in a 2020 world, you have to initiate continuous reinvention, not just for yourself, but for your organization, and the employees you serve. Success breed complacency. Don’t get trapped by the idea that what worked in the past will work in the future. Schedule 5 hours of development each week!

Keep Learning:

Presentation: Rethinking HR     Website     Newsletter

Blog     Twitter    Facebook     LinkedIn


Disrupt HR! Approaching HR, Talent Acquisition (& Your Career) in a Whole New Way

Jennifer McClure

The Big Idea: Change is coming. We are being disrupted. It’s up to us whether we choose to be a part of it.

Focus on solving business problems, not just HR problems. Bring an entrepreneurial spirit into HR. After all, by 2020 more than 1/3 of the desired skill sets for most jobs will be skills not considered crucial today! Great managers are the key to success in your organization, and bad managers are doing incredible damage to it. You can’t blame having bad managers on anyone else.

Keep Learning:

Website     Newsletter     Blog     Twitter    Facebook     LinkedIn


General Session: Tuesday

Patrick Lencioni

The Big Idea: The ideal team player is humble, hungry and smart. Deficits in any of these areas must be addressed by personal development or coaching.

You know who leaves your organizations first when you don’t hire ideal team players? IDEAL TEAM PLAYERS. The importance of developing existing team members is paramount, but it has to start with YOU. Help people identify & acknowledge their areas for improvement and hold them accountable for making a change.

Keep Learning:

Book: The Ideal Team Player     Website

Blog     Twitter     LinkedIn


Brand Name HR: Giving Your Function Life and Purpose

Steve Browne

The Big Idea: You should be a presence within your organization. Own who you are and what you do. Don’t just keep following or enforcing the rules, CHANGE THEM.

So much of BAD HR surrounds a seeking safety. It means hiding from people, hiding from problems, or hiding information because we’re afraid how people will react. Our sense of safety, however, is exactly what is causing us trouble. We need to lead by example, from a place of courage and transparency to build the kinds of relationships that are meaningful to PEOPLE and our organizations.

Keep Learning:

Book: HR on Purpose !!     Blog     Twitter     LinkedIn


General Session: Wednesday

Laila Ali

The Big Idea: YOU are your most important hire. Take care of yourself so that you can lead and take care of others.

Laila Ali’s story was even more incredible than expected, but I was most struck by how she has consistently reinvented herself throughout her life and career. She showed by example that although we may already be technically successful, true success comes from consistent improvement and smart risk taking.

Keep Learning:

 Book: Food for Life    Website     Newsletter

Blog     Twitter    Facebook


Evolving Protections for LGBTQ Employees

Janet Hendrick

The Big Idea: Protections for employees vary by state and even by city. Many cases working their way through legal system promise continuous change in this area.

This session was part emerging case law and part talent management. The difference between the two is key. Where laws don’t prevent it, I think protections for LGBTQ employees are a no brainer. Show me an organization that has a problem with this, and I can almost guarantee they have substantial cultural, values, and inclusion problems that pre-existed protections for LGBTQ employees.

Keep Learning:

Website     Twitter     LinkedIn


Employee Wellness Check: Most of What You Have Been Sold Doesn’t Work, So What Does?

Rosie Ward PhD

The Big Idea: In the area of employee wellness we consistently attempt to use technical solutions to address adaptive problems. But there is no quick fix, no magic bullet, and we need to embrace total well-being rather than what we’ve been sold by the wellness industry.

This session blew me away, almost literally. Our speaker was interrupted by an announcement that we were under Tornado Warning (thanks, Cindy) but that we should shelter in place. Our speaker kept going, and the rest of the session turned out to be a fast moving storm of fact after fact detailing the woes of our traditional approach to employee wellness.

There was so much info, and it came at me so fast, I couldn’t tweet and I could just barely keep up taking notes. IT. WAS. AWESOME.

The bottom line? Employee health cannot be separated from overall well-being (example: career, social, financial, physical, community)

Dr. Ward was kind enough to provide an incredibly thorough list of resources from her presentation, including her slides and many supporting references.

Check it out HERE: Slides and Additional Resources

Keep Learning:

Book: How to Build a Thriving Culture at Work     Website

Twitter     LinkedIn


The Lost Sessions:

I attended three sessions that just didn’t do it for me, either because my original session was completely full, or because I made a last-minute change in plans.  I’ll call these “The Lost Sessions” because I didn’t come away with much from them, other than the realization that there are certain types of sessions that I need to avoid in the future.

It wasn’t the speaker’s fault or SHRM’s for booking them. These speakers were well regarded, the sessions were highly attended and everyone seemed to enjoy them. They just weren’t my cup of tea.

What I learned here is that I am perhaps predisposed to not enjoy a pep talk session. It’s not the speaker, it’s me. Not every session works for everyone, and that’s okay. My goal is to be better at selecting the ones that do the trick for next time.



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