HR Administration

#SHRM13: Opening Day at SHRM Book It

As Hillary Clinton chatted about whatever she chatted about, other SHRM attendees opted to spend their time in pursuit of their profession.

As you may know, media was locked out of Hillary Clinton’s keynote speech Sunday to open SHRM’s annual soiree. So what’s a lowly scribe to do in the hour or so between the likely presidential candidate’s little chat with thousands of her new BFFs—she has taken a selfie now, you know—and the opening mad rush for swag at the exhibit hall?

Fortunately I didn’t have to kill my time at Chicago’s massive McCormick Place thanking my kids for the nice Father’s Day cards they sent me. I’d taken care of that earlier in the day.

I was happy to discover that there were plenty of other folks who were finding productive ways to spend their time while Mrs. Clinton gabbed about whatever the media was not allowed to overhear. Two attendees from the General Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventists were busily poring over the SHRM schedule at a table just beyond the exhibit hall to plan out their next few days.

In town from their Silver Spring, Maryland, headquarters, Linda and Joel (they politely refused to offer up their last names) said they were primarily looking for compliance-related sessions.

“We’re trying to keep up to speed; they keep changing the laws on us.”

Deb Whitworth was perusing the aisles of SHRM’s bookstore. A Maine state SHRM council director who also works in Mercer’s Portland, Maine, office, she was interested in leadership techniques.

“I’m looking for team-building exercises,” said Whitworth, who was holding a copy of Steve Gilliand’s book, “Enjoy the Ride.”

“One thing we forget to do is enjoy the moment,” said the 30-year HR pro. “We need to remember to experience life.”

Celia Sanchez, a “do-it-all” HR manager for Los Angeles staffing firm APR Consulting, was looking to improve the interviewing abilities of her company’s recruiters. Holding a copy of “96 Interview Questions,” Sanchez said a lot of her managers are new.

“There’s not a lot of experience; I want to take steps to give them better perspectives.”

Peter Johnson, a Los Angeles native who now calls Salt Lake City home, was focused on books related to performance reviews. Toting several books including Paul Falcone’s “Performance Appraisal Toolkit” as well as a book on effective catch phrases to use during reviews, Johnson, who is the HR director for the School Improvement Network, hopes to enhance the review process for his fast-growing organization.

“We’re growing really quickly and we need to polish up on our process,” said Johnson. “We need to give managers the tools to not only do a performance review, but do them so both sides get something out of them.”

Interestingly, Johnson also was holding a copy of Samuel Culbert’s “Get Rid of the Performance Review.”

“It’s the counter-argument,” he noted, ostensibly to give equal time to both sides of the performance review debate. “It gets us thinking differently. If you do a review once a year and tie it to compensation, it can lack honesty. You need a candid dialogue.”