My overall reaction to Linda's keynote is "she gets it"! That is not because she praised the HR profession more than once, but because she explained many specific experiences of both her own and the entrepreneurs that her non-profit organization, Endeavor, works so hard to assist that demonstrated her thorough understanding of how HR has a huge impact on the bottom line of any organization. The organization that started with inspiration that came from three cab rides. It was her third cab ride where the driver shared that he had a PhD in Engineering but had taken the job because he couldn't find anything else due to the economy. She thought to herself, whey doesn't he start his own company, and realized resources were limited for individuals who may have a desire when the economy doesn't support our working for others. As an entrepreneur myself for 11 years now, I totally understand the cab drivers predicament and was inspired by Linda's drive and determination to make a difference.
Aside from the details of running a worldwide organization and sharing all the HR and general business related experiences and challenges, we learned she was very human and not just super woman. She shared a personal story about having to tell her staff about her commitment to her husband and family values when he was initially diagnosed with cancer. The staff let her know that they appreciated her humanness after years of seeing her go nonstop and had gained a new found respect for her as a person. The lesson she learned from that experience was invaluable. She ended with a powerful statement about how we get a chance to make a difference in our profession for a short part of our lifetime but she is a mom forever. Family values are extremely important and work flexibility is not just a generational issue it is a workplace issue and we all need to do what we can to make it ok for people to take care of what matters most.
I had a chance to interview, Vince Caldwell, who shared the book store highlights related to Strategic HRM which you can watch here:
There where four afternoon sessions to chose from and I chose a table at the front of the Using Social Media to Increase Collaboration, Productivity and Engagement session which was unfortunately a disappointment because it was simply too basic. However, I didn't feel comfortable enough to leave having been right up front. I was not the only one as I discovered during the presidential debates later in the evening. The reason I felt this way which is really a message to all conference speakers was because she didn't know her audience or perhaps she assumed from the low online participation up to and during the conference that everyone in the room was needing the basics. For me I was looking at the title and description thought we would get into some case studies about how companies were actually using it to collaborate and engage employees. We heard from Linda Rottinger earlier that her company uses Chatter.com internally to increase productivity, collaboration, and engagement and that was not even her topic. I was expecting more examples and software ideas. However, after reviewing the description there was one word that answered my misunderstanding of expectations (LEAP). It says "by taking the leap and introducing social media into your organization". She focused on that one word by "selling" all the reasons for using social media in the organization.
Getting back to knowing your audience. I get that this group is on the trailing end of actually using social media which is evident online and by what one of the participants stood up and mentioned about how more of the attendees should have been there. They should have been in there indeed to hear the basic message she had but for those of us who already get it and was in the room I believe we were looking for more. The lady sitting next to me was using a program similar to chatter to engage all 800 employees all over the country. I be the group would have liked to hear more about here experience implementing, etc. With all this said she absolutely was engaging and well spoken.
Finally, the evening could not have ended any better than seeing how important the social issues in this country are to the HR professionals in attendance by the turnout for the big screen debate showing and cash bar with appetizers that each participant paid for themselves. Personal commitment to staying informed as a voter was evident by e approximately 100 person turnout between both rooms.
by Donna Rogers, SPHR, ILSHRM Director