Top 10 Takeaways from The HR Technology Conference 2015

17th+Annual+HR+Technology+ConferenceThe 2015 HR Technology Conference just wrapped and it is time to collect my thoughts and reflect on the event.  First, thank you to Steve Boese and David Shadovitz for the work you do creating the event.  Thank you also to the team at LRP for selecting me as a speaker this year and for all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into producing an event of this caliber.  Even though I don’t work for LRP, although some think I do, it is an honor to be part of such a stellar event.

I attended as a speaker and an analyst this year.  I tried to make the most of my analyst time by visiting with as many solution providers as possible, mostly in the Expo Hall, which enables me to have advisory discussions with HR leaders throughout the rest of the year.  I also attended some great sessions like the Awesome New Technologies session and the Awesome New Startups session.  Both showcase the best of what we can expect from the world of HCM technology and it’s exciting to watch the transformation of our industry.  That said, I have ten things I am taking away from this year’s event.

Top 10 Takeaways

  1. Compliance reigns-  If you listen to some of the sessions and some of the leaders of various solution providers, you may believe that compliance is dead, or at least being killed off.  But much like your favorite character from a soap opera, compliance is not only not dead, it’s stronger than ever.  As a former HR leader, ensuring the compliance was being handled properly was what helped me sleep at night.  Knowing that risk was mitigated and that we had all the regulations met let me focus time on more of the “fun HR” strategies.  After talking to numerous vendors who strive to help keep your business in compliance so that you are freed up to work on other things, I’m excited to see that this is truly achievable for today’s HR pros.  Hat tip to Equifax Workforce Solutions and Talentwise for what you all have going on this year as well as what you’re doing in 2016!
  2. Move to Human-  It’s interesting to hear who is more concerned with the bits and bytes and who is focused on people. I know it’s a HR technology conference, however, those companies and speakers who focused more on the people….the human side of HR….were the winners in my eyes.  As I walked through the Expo Hall, I tried to pay special attention to the providers who talked more about the actual people and the benefit of the tools for the people than those who talked about features.  Several providers stood out in this area for me:  Ultimate Software, Silkroad and Globoforce.  Kudos for keeping the people front-and-center as you enter 2016!
  3. Marketplaces are the Future- This was the first year that one of the main buzzwords I heard was “marketplace”.  Giving employees and leaders the opportunities to make choices easier when it comes to a variety of solutions was refreshing.  Two standouts here were ADP and the ADP Marketplace showcased during Awesome New Technologies.  The second was PlanSource and their benefits marketplace.  I can’t wait to see how organizations embrace all the offerings.
  4. Opportunities for the Cloud-  For several years, talk has made it seem like everyone had already moved to the cloud.  As analysts, we know that this is not the case….YET.  The movement is certainly picking up and for me, the take away is that solution providers need to keep reminding themselves that NOT EVERYONE is there yet.  Give these organizational leaders time.
  5. Some Buzzwords are Overly Ambitious-  If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrases “machine learning” or “predictive analytics”, I’d have left Las Vegas richer than if I’d played Craps.  I’m all for talking about the workplace of 2020 or 2025, however, don’t forget that many HR leaders and teams are still trying to find solutions to bring all their people data together.  Others are a step farther and can actually run reports on that data and make some recommendations.  Thinking that HR pros have all the tools needed to embrace prediction is overly ambitious.  The same goes for machine learning.  We are taking baby steps as organizations.
  6. Startups push the Established Vendors- One of the most exciting things for me during this event was the opportunity to connect with some very exciting startups.  From having the opportunity to answer questions for the startup community at HR Tech Tank on Sunday to spending time talking to entrepreneurs in the Startup Pavillion, I was energized.  Two standouts for me were Bridge US and Elevated Careers by eHarmony.  These two are doing great things and should be on your watch list for 2016.  It will be interesting to see how the more established providers react to some of the new ideas startups are pursuing.
  7. Not everyone in HR wants to do it all-  One topic that came up in a session I led was the disagreement on just how much a HR leader wants to do or has time to do.  For example, I think it is a great idea to have technology implementation that is faster and easier.  However, providers need to keep in mind that you have HR leaders who may not have time to implement this technology and that they want to pay you to do it.  They also need options for customized service from you because they may not fully understand how to purchase and implement a technology.  This is by no means a knock on HR pros….this is just a gentle reminder that sometimes, we all need to have a helping hand or be taken care of….even HR pros.
  8. Education = Comfort-  Whether it’s buying a technology, implementing a technology or just learning how to be a better HR leader, attendees want education.  The job HR leaders face is a challenging one and whether it’s through sessions at the event, discussions at a booth, or once they return back to their offices, they need ongoing education and support in order to be comfortable with technology.  An organization that is making strides on providing education for HR leaders is Peoplefluent.  I am glad to see their focus not only on the tools to help HR, but in making them comfortable.
  9. HR needs help with Internal Communications-  The primary way that HR teams communicate with employees and leaders is via email.  This is changing.  As HCM solutions begin to offer new avenues for communication in organizations, they should also offer more in the way of templates or service offerings on the communications to be shared.  Several providers are now offering solid resources.  A couple I liked were from Oracle and Successfactors.
  10. Approachability trumps formality- My final takeaway is around the way not only the event works, but how business works.  I am hearing feedback that people value the ability to be approachable far more than being formal.  Whether you’re a speaker or a provider, spend time planning how to make yourself and your organization more approachable.  Those of us in the HCM technology space are far more comfortable than the average HR buyer.  Let’s make them feel welcome.

So, those were my top takeaways.  If you attended, what were yours?  Be sure to share them in the comments section.

HR Gives Back: HR Happy Hour #221

hrhappyrhourJoin Steve Boese and me in an episode we recorded LIVE at the ADP Analyst Day in New York City.  We were thrilled to have Mollie Lombardi as our guest to talk about her project….HR Gives Back.  HR Gives Back to a Future without Parkinson’s is an idea started by Mollie Lombardi, Mike Pauletich, Teresa Thieme and Jeanne Achille. It is a way to help raise money and awareness for the fight against Parkinson’s Disease.  It will live on as a way for HR to give back to other charitable organizations in the future.

This year Mollie and her friend Mike are competing in a fundraising effort leading up to the HR Technology Conference October 18- 21 in Las Vegas.  There are some fun ways to get involved in raising money and awareness and we encourage you to learn more at

October 21, 2015 marks the day that famous DeLorean landed in the future. It also marks the last day of the 18th annual HR Technology Conference and Expo. What better time to help HR give “Back to a Future” without Parkinson’s than a fundraiser supporting The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF).  Join members of the HR technology community in a virtual marathon October 1-21, raising funds and running or walking 26.2 miles over 21 days to support the cause, and at the HR Technology Conference Oct. 18-21 for an onsite challenge sponsored by FitBit.

Join us for a lively show about this outstanding event as well as an update on ADP and a little flash back to the 80’s at the beginning!

You can listen to the show on the show page here, or using the widget player below:

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlaneon BlogTalkRadio


Impact of Talent Management Survey is LIVE Now


H3 HR Advisors is proud to launch our first Impact of Talent Management Technology survey in conjunction with iPractice ( Perry Timms and Adelaida Manolescu).  As the reach and impact of Talent Management technology increases, organizations are looking to compare their use to other successful organizations. This survey will measure and compare those impacts.

Please take a moment to respond and to share with all your HR friends and colleagues.  Thank you!

HBR is Getting it Wrong: The Internal RISE of HR

I love HRThis HR lady is fired up!  Lately, there is no shortage of posts and articles about Human Resources not being strategic, not being valued, and needing to change in order to make everyone else in the C-Suite feel better. From articles in  HBR (including their current magazine cover saying “It’s Time to Blow Up HR”), to Forbes to the Korn Ferry Institute, people are questioning whether or not HR can be strategic, what they need to do to become strategic and whether we should just start over from scratch.

As someone who has dedicated my entire career to working in HR and trying to further our profession, I can assure you HR leaders are strategic.  The issue as I see it from the trenches is a lack of respect for the value HR brings to the organization and for that, I don’t believe that “blowing up HR” is the way to correct it.  What HR needs is a re-brand.

If I were asked to describe my “ideal” HR department, it would be one in which every HR pro would:

  • Know the business- Speak the language of the particular industry they support.
  • Understand the financials- This is key to being able to strategically advise leadership on people issues. Ensuring you have a solid understanding of exactly how your organization makes and spends money, then be able to equate the people costs to the bottom line.
  • Get honest– They wouldn’t sugarcoat what is going on.  The only way to really make things better is to examine the issue at hand by being honest and transparent.
  • Encourage innovation– Include HR at all levels in brainstorming to truly challenge the traditional ways of doing things.  Some processes will remain the same.  Others will be taken to new and better levels.
  • Be recognized publically (internally AND externally) – Other work teams publicize their “wins”.  So should HR.

How do we get to the ideal? We RISE to a new level of awareness:

  • Reduce or outsource administrative functions where possible
  • Innovate to come up with fresh approachs to business issues about people, then aggressively share with the C-Suite and other leaders
  • Spread the word about what HR is and what it isn’t and  really publicize HR “wins” and successes
  • Engage all levels of the organization

I had the opportunity to speak to a group of HR leaders in Kansas City last night and one conversation was focused on how to rebrand HR in higher education.  This leader was describing how he is taking business principles to rebrand the HR team.  Instead of the employees working off old assumptions, he’s breathing fresh, new life into the HR team and then publicizing the interactions so that the overall opinion about HR changes.  It’s steps like his that will make HR rise….not blowing up the profession or tearing it apart.

All this feels like the culmination of many different approaches all leading to the same result.  A new HR. A refocused, redefined, re-branded HR.  The ball is rolling.  How do we gain momentum?

2015 Guide to Conquering SHRM Annual- Las Vegas

Las-Vega-300x132We’re just a few weeks away from the biggest collection of HR professionals in the world….. the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition.  It’s one of those events where you’ll find HR pros in all phases of their careers, from all parts of the world, who work for every type of company under the sun.  Where better to put this collection of diversity but in Las Vegas!

Personally, I hate when events are in Vegas. Somehow the sights like people dragging their oxygen tanks around with them from one slot machine to another at 4 am, people on the street trying to flip nudie business cards at me, and hookers picking up Johns as I walk by the hotel registration desk just does not scream “HR Conference” to me.  But I digress.

The fact is that no matter the location, SHRM is one of the most valuable events for practitioners.  As a seasoned conference goer, I thought I’d share some tips to guide you through this year’s event whether it’s your first time or your twentieth.

1.  Attend my session.  Ok, maybe this shouldn’t be tip #1 but you have to admit that if I didn’t tell you to come to the session that Steve Boese and I are doing about HR technology implementation, I’d be remiss.  Seriously, be there on Tuesday morning bright and early for a session that will give you practical insights on implementing technology.

2.  Attend all the 7 am sessions.  I am not kidding. I get that it’s Vegas Baby! and that you’re thinking you won’t be able to get your party on if you have to be at a 7 am session.  Trust me….those are the great ones. Great topics. Great presenters.  Be there.

3.  Don’t stay where everyone else stays.  This is true for any SHRM conference.  It’s the only way you can have any real down-time, away from the conference mayhem.  Vegas is prime territory for finding a nice hotel like the Cosmopolitan or Aria where you can have great views and make time to hit the pool or spa.

4.  Diversify.  Break out of your routine and comfort zone.  Don’t just attend sessions.  Don’t just hang around people you know.  Plan to walk the expo floor and talk to at least 2- 3 new people each day of the conference.  Attend at least 2 sessions that you think sound completely irrelevant to your current job.  You’ll surprise yourself by learning something you normally wouldn’t.

5.  Network like a champ.  I mean it….I don’t want to hear that you’re an introvert.  Think of me like your mother telling you to eat all the food on your plate because of the starving children in China.  If you are fortunate enough to be at SHRM Annual, think of the thousands of your HR comrades who will NEVER have this opportunity.  I used to be that practitioner.  You’re there so be brave and introduce yourself to anyone who walks by you with a name badge.

6.  Know when to take off the name badge.  Earlier I mentioned partying  and if you’re the type that just needs to do that, remember to not wear your name out and about.  Nothing good can happen with your badge on after 5 pm.  It may even be a good idea to have an aka if you’re going out.  Just saying.

7.  Make notes.  Not just notes in sessions, but each time you return to your room, sit down and write a quick one page summary of what the takeaways were from that day.  You’ll be experiencing so much in a short amount of time so make the most of remembering what is important for when you return to your office.

8.  Take care of number One.  I used to be guilty of going to conferences and not eating properly.  Make sure you eat and sleep enough.  Also, it’s Vegas, so it’s dry.  Lather yourself in lotion constantly so your skin will love you and drink water at least 3 times as much as you would at home.  You’ll thank me later.

9.  Follow it all on social.  If you’re on social, you know the drill.  If you are not, at least get on LinkedIn and follow what people are saying about the event.  You’ll get good tips in real time of what is going on, where to be, etc.

10.  Have fun.  Seems it would go without saying but don’t just worry about sessions and notes.  Have a memorable trip.

Oh, and just to recap, come to my session on Tueday morning.  Can’t wait to see you there!

Anagnorisis & Peripeteia: What In the World Did I Sign Up For?

I stumbled upon a TEDx talk by Mike Rowe where he told a story of how he had to castrate lambs as part of his Dirty Jobs television series.  While he makes no preparation for the jobs he agrees to take on, in this instance, he said he had to do a bit of research to determine how this would work.  He learned that castration is done (typically and according to the Humane Society) using a rubber band.  It apparently takes about a week for them to drop off.  What they didn’t tell him is that it is an excruciating process for the lamb and that it is a week of pain.  I recommend watching his talk to learn what he had to do instead…

At any rate, the point of his talk turned into a discussion of anagnorisis and peripeteia.  Anagnorisis is the transition from ignorance to knowledge and peripeteia is a sudden turn of events where you often realize that everything you thought was right is suddenly reversed.  It was about learning what you’ve gotten wrong in your perception about work, how to recognize this and then change.


Food For Thought

What are the misconceptions of work that we all have that we continue to perpetuate based on our own ignorance?  Is it the idea that following our passion is the only way to go?  We all think we want that.  What if our passion doesn’t pay?  What if we are so ignorant in our current state of following the herd or even a bad leader that we are completely missing out on anagnorisis?  What if ALL the constructs of business and HR and technology are getting it wrong and we’re all just following along?

It’s a lot to think about and I don’t claim to have all the right answers.  What I DO know for sure is that if we stop questioning the status quo, we deserve what we get.  The only way to make progress~ real progress~ is to question what other people believe as truth.

  • We have to do what is necessary in order not to become complacent
  • We have to stop relying on organization or bosses to take care of us
  • We have to step up and be accountable and operate on principle
  • We have to keep questioning and changing processes
  • We have to examine and re-examine our technology choices so that we have the right solutions in place
  • We have to push the gas instead of continuing to coast

In closing, I share a quote that Mike Rowe said.  “The jobs we hope to make and the jobs we hope to create aren’t going to stick unless they are jobs people want.”  Think about that as you examine your own work and as you think about the positions you create in your organization.

I welcome your comments.

6 Years of HRringleader

Today marks the 6 year anniversary of HRringleader.  It’s been an amazing time, full of new ideas, opportunities and friends.  Truth be told, I started the blog as a way to learn about blogging so I could design a training about it for work.  I never thought it would turn into something that would change my life.  As I wrote more posts and shared my ideas, it became my personal journal that just happened to be public.

I don’t share everything I write, but I share most posts.  I don’t always have the time to dedicate to blogging every day as I once did, but even so, I hope that what I create is valuable to you and that you’ll continue to read and share.  I also enjoy when you share your ideas with me because that helps us all learn and grow

What I’ve learned from blogging is that nothing stays the same and that we all can use support as things develop and change.  I am grateful to each of you for helping me in that endeavor.  I once shared a poem by Robert Frost in a post and I’d like to do that again today as a reminder of the many changes to come in the next 6 years…

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Nothing Gold Can Stay, it is a tribute to innocence as well as to changes that we all go through.  So often as leaders and as human beings we are forced to lose our innocence little by little, situation by situation.  I’m reminded of a time of personal innocence when I first heard about this poem.  I was in junior high school and reading the book The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton.  It is a story of a group of young teenage boys who are coming of age.  Through many trials and tribulations, several key characters die during the story.  One character, Johnny, tells the lead character, Ponyboy, to “stay gold”.

Whether recalling the prose of a brilliant poet or the inspired quote from an author who speaks to a younger generation, the message is clear.  As you are faced with change, do all you can to hang on to your innocence about things.  The purity.  The raw emotion.  After all, nothing gold can stay.

I thank you and hope you’ll continue this journey with me.


4 Steps To Resignation or Promotion with Grace

*Sharing from the dusty archives…

We’ve all left a job. leaving-work

Whether voluntarily or involuntarily, leaving your organization or position is a commonality we all share at some point.  The difference is how each person handles that transition. For many employees, especially those who voluntarily resign, leaving is a process they go through.  It could involve months of thinking about it and planning out each detail. For those employees who are terminated though, they may or may not have much warning.  Either way, it’s important to realize the impact of behavior during the transition time.  After all, it’s part of the legacy you leave and what you were known for at work.

In a recent column in Harvard Business Review, On Stepping Down Gracefully, Robert Sutton describes the importance of this transition time for CEOs who step down or who take on roles with different responsibility. Like us, a CEO has to think about the message they send when they are asked to resign or if they are choosing to retire to a chairmanship.  The impact of behavior during those “peak” moments in a career are critical to how colleagues and even the successor remember the person who is leaving.  There are no real benefits to let hurt feelings taint the departure.  All that does is create enemies and burn bridges that may be needed in the future.

The same holds true for promotions.  Whether you’re leaving your current role for a promotion in your current department, leaving your department for another in the organization, or leaving your organization for an opportunity for a larger role at a different company, do so with grace.  The way you treat colleagues will have a great influence on how you are perceived in the future.

  • Tie up loose ends on issues–  Make it easy for your successor to step in.
  • Transition projects to capable leaders– By giving that leader all the information he or she will need to take over the project you will help ensure that the project will not be derailed as a result of your resignation or promotion.
  • Show respect–  The way you treat your colleagues, boss, clients and anyone else in the organization you come into contact with will be the last memory they have of you.  Make it a good one.
  • Give performance feedback to members of your team–  This is a critical action yet one that most people miss as they leave.  Without your input as a leader, often the incumbent will not have enough knowledge to complete the annual appraisal for that year and your staff will be the ones to pay the price.

What are other key things you have done as you’ve transitioned out of roles?  Be sure to share those in the comments.