#hrevolution, progress, and the future of HR

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Several years ago, I started a NING called HR Bloggers because I wanted to find a bunch of like-minded HR dorks who were interested in social media.

I found one. Lance Haun. And we collaborated on HRM Today, a bigger social network for HR dorks.

We sold the properties when the broader HR community caught wind of social media and started to get a little excited (& scared). It was a good time for us to move forward. Lance moved on to ERE Media and TLNT. I continued to blog and started a whole bunch of little companies that made some money.

Lance and I developed new careers and a new understanding of  Human Resources through our interactions on the internet. But what do you do if you’re a Human Resources professional who is interested in social media — and you understand that business is conducted in a new (social) currency — but can’t get your team excited about the opportunities?

You do what everyone else with good ideas does. You get promoted and you take over.

Lance and I tried to explain this at last year’s HREvolution conference (2010) and it fell a little flat. Ben Eubanks, Crystal Peterson, Trish McFarlane and Steve Boese are great conference organizers and they went out of their way to include a diversity of ideas. Lance and I definitely had a minority opinion. I’m thankful they gave us the opportunity to have it considered.

In a nutshell, I believed that everyone in that room should be pushing to take over. I advised the group to read new authors, study something outside of Human Resources, and get promoted. Earn $250,000/year (chump change for HR leaders, actually), consult with your board of directors, and run a serious HR team committed to implementing change in the workforce.

Most people just heard ‘earn $250,000/year’ and freaked out.

It’s not about money, Laurie. It’s about ideas.

And I agree — sorta.

The business professionals in the room came up to me, afterward, and said that our message was the pitch-perfect message for a Human Resources crowd that is insecure about what it can accomplish. I was told, “These men & women came together through social media because they were outcasts in the organization. They think differently and need to be encouraged to be courageous and bold. You can’t hide behind a blog forever. Social media is step #1 in a long-term personal development plan.”

Yes.

But then the HR professionals in the room told me, “Laure, you don’t understand influence. It’s about changing the organization in subtle and strategic ways.”

Right. Okay. Agree with that, too.

So this year, China Gorman and Paul Smith discussed ways in which attendees of the 2011 HREvolution conference could take their experiences and create change within the organization. It was a great session and people seemed to enjoy sitting in a circle of trust (they called it that — I’m not making fun of it) and sharing their ideas.

But I still maintain that the single biggest way you affect change is to own the change management cycle. The single biggest way to make an impact in the world of Human Resources is to pry the old model of HR out of the cold, dead hands of the HR Bitches. And you do that by getting promoted.

Ownership is not a dirty word. In fact, ownership and accountability are awesome.

Listen, I know that not everyone can be a SVP or CHRO; however, there isn’t a single person at HREvolution who couldn’t run a Human Resources department. Each attendee has the capability and the talent to do it. No one in that room lacks the drive or determination to succeed.

I said what I said in 2010 as a call to action. Get your shit together. Take over. Be the freakin’ change you want to see in your company.

As we advise our employees, there is no single path to a promotion. But there are things you can do to make yourself more marketable. I believe that my advice from 2010 still applies in 2011 and beyond.

  • If you don’t have a bachelors degree, go back to school.
  • Don’t brag about your SPHR. Go get your MBA.
  • If you are not reading business journals and staying current with financial news, start now.
  • Immerse yourselves in politics and become experts in political issues (bond issues, public works projects, public policy debates) that intersect with your organization’s goals.
  • Learn how to read a balance sheet.
  • Don’t talk about strategic HR goals. Work to align compensation, benefits, development, recruiting, branding, etc., around company goals and objectives.
  • Have a healthy relationship with IT and Marketing and Finance.
  • Stop talking about social media. Talk about the business. Bring in social solutions as appropriate.

I believe in you guys. It’s time to believe in yourselves and take it to the next level.

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