It is customary for those who attend HREvolution to blog about the experience. I won’t be the exception.
I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but there is something kind of comforting about being in a room of people that you connect with often, even if in some cases you’ve never met them before in real life. Such is the case with HREvolution.
This year the excitement started early with a morning cab ride from the Westin Michigan Avenue to McCormick Place where the conference was being held. The Chicago Marathon was going on and practically all the streets were closed in the downtown area. I found myself in a cab with @Lisarosendahl, @pamelamaeross, @hrstalker and @caliyost with a cab driver who was possibly as lost as the five of us. From that point forward, I felt surrounded by people who were “in it with me”.
Bret Starr (@bretstarr) opened the conference by reminding all of us of how easy it is for good people to be convinced to do bad things, and the role leadership can play in warping the minds of good people. He used the Milgram Experiment to make a parallel between test subjects and employees and HR. (In the Milgram Experiment, test subjects were convinced to shock participants who incorrectly answered questions, up to the point of administering what they believed to be lethal shocks). In a sick but truthful sort of way, I could relate.
Over the years, I know that I have worked with great employers, and some that were terribly short-sighted. I know there have been times when I have found myself stepping out of my comfort zone to do things I knew would have poor results because that is exactly how leadership wanted it done. Disagreement would likely have ended my relationship with them. In reality, I think many of us would like to call that “strategy” or “meeting project scope” but in truth, it is more like being sucked in. As a more mature consultant now I feel more confident in my ability to influence outcomes, and believe for most this is a skill that comes with time. The challenge for HR is knowing how to effectively insert the right compass and push what is best all around, especially when it is not in leadership.
During this presentation I found my mind wandering to a whole host of other topics that could be written about related to the Milgram Experiment including trench vs. strategic HR, HR standards and governance, retention and leadership development and think that Bret used an excellent example to get us all thinking. It is hard to believe that much thought leadership could come from what is arguably a conference for people who simply like/need to be social among peers.
Later, I found myself in the HRImprov session. In this session, five HR Professionals were asked to present a presentation based upon 10 slides given to them. They were given no prep time. This was hilarious. No surprise, but nearly all of the presentations ended up being about sex in the office, sexual harassment avoidance, LARPing, safety (but not the type associated with forklifts and WHMIS) and other related subjects. I attempted to bring some of the presentations to life on Twitter although I may someday regret that since at one point I posted “Tip: No nudie pictures on LinkedIn.” (Note: my most retweeted post!)
To connect this to the earlier presentation by Bret Starr, sometimes you just get caught up in what is going on around you and do or say things that aren’t normal for you.
Or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
It was a great event and hope to attend again.