Thoughts on the 2012 SHRM National Conference

In Uncategorized on July 31, 2012 by RWHRMA Tagged: , , , ,

I left the SHRM National Conference in Atlanta with 15 pages of notes.  Don’t worry…my blog isn’t that long.  I want to share some of the highlights that I took away from three of the keynote speakers, focusing on three core areas: engagement, leadership and culture.


When I think of engagement, I think of highly motivated individuals.  I think of dynamic teams.  I think of success.  According to Patrick Lencioni, by understanding dysfunction, you will understand how one can be engaged by:

  1. being trustworthy;
  2. proposing healthy conflict;
  3. being committed;
  4. being accountable; and
  5. being results oriented.

All companies want to increase their level of engagement today.  What does that mean?  You have two pools of employees.  Those that are engaged and those that are not.  I guess you can create a third and say that there are those employees who are “sorta” engaged.

Regardless, I like this outline because we can all encourage our employees to specifically work on one or all of these areas to improve our level of engagement.  My favorite quote from Lencioni:

“Consensus is a four letter word.”


In all of the research that Jim Collins and his team conducted, they found that the number one “x” factor in all great leaders was humility.  If you’ve read any of his books, you know that he talks about the role of luck in good leaders and how great leaders make their own luck.  Call them ‘humble, luck makers’ if you will.  This was the second time I got to see Collins speak.  Every time I hear him, I remind myself that I never have to buy another leadership book again because I believe in what he says.  If you get the right people together to accomplish a common goal and you allow them to meet their maximum potential, great things are achieved.  My favorite quote from Collins:

“Spend less time trying to be interesting and be more interested.”


I also had the pleasure to see Malcolm Gladwell speak.  What a brilliant mind.  He can take complex issues, like how to understand the generational differences in our work place, and break it down by tying historical facts to current, relevant situations.   Gladwell spoke about Martin Luther King Jr. and how he strategically planned “Project C”.  He talked about Steve Jobs and how Apple built a hierarchy out of a network (and that it only worked because it was led by a dictator!).  He talked about the Millennials and how they push the social paradigm, which not only impacts corporate culture, but our society as a whole.

How companies strategize to define their identity impacts their culture.  The difference in generations adds to this culture shift. The unique background of each individual in your organization influences how each employee interprets your company’s culture and in turn impacts the fabric of your organization. One of my favorite quotes from the entire conference was from Gladwell:

“Networks can start revolutions, but you need hierarchies to finish them.”

If you want more information about the SHRM National Conference, please feel free to email me at

Teri Harrell, PHR
RWHRMA President

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