HRPA to SHRM: We Don't Need No Stinking Standardized HR Metrics...

Some of you may be aware that there's a big SHRM initiative underway to standardize different HR and Human Capital metrics across all companies.  On the surface, it's a noble cause.  Here's the feel good description of what's going on from from BusinessWeek:

"A group of 600 HR managers, academics, and advisers are drafting guidelines for standardizing measures of workforce diversity, turnover, job training, and the like. They are also drawing up a template for how companies should report such information to shareholders. Those involved in the project argue that companies and investors would benefit if a single set of metrics were used to gauge what they call “human capital.”

“In the financial-services sector, my supply chain is human capital—it’s relationships, it’s ideas,” says Erika Karp, head of Global Sector Research at UBS Investment Bank, who has been involved in devising the standards. A stockpicker choosing between two banks should favor the one that spends more money training and rewarding its employees, thereby lowering turnover, which is costly, Karp says. Investors will also gravitate to companies with a deep leadership bench. With the metrics, “you have more transparency on factors that result in better profitability,” she says. “It’s what a reasonable investor would want to know.”

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished.  By creating a platform that threatens to standardize, and therefore require, the collection of data and reporting of metrics along the lines of financial metrics to Walll Street, there's the predictable "give me freedom or give me death" call related to an implied threat that these metrics could be included in future regulatory burdens.  More from Business Week:

"The project, which is being spearheaded by the 250,000-member Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), has drawn fire from the HR Policy Association (HRPA), a lobbying group whose members include the top HR officers at more than 300 of the largest companies in the U.S. HRPA says the reporting standards would place an unnecessary burden on public companies, which are already shouldering a mountain of paperwork under Sarbanes-Oxley. Information on how much time and money companies spend on training and what kinds of workers they are hiring would be less valuable to investors than to rivals, HRPA representatives say. “These are all things the competition would love to know,” says Tim Bartl, a senior official. While most companies would agree they need to have a succession plan, a requirement to name candidates for the top job would irk some, says Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School. “In a lot of firms that particular question isn’t even known to the participants.”

I like the cause/drive to standardize, but I'm not sure I want SHRM to be the ones to blaze the path.  Still, it's easy to bitch and moan that we need better metrics and then be against this type of movement.  Seems like folks like me should either get involved and help determine the solution or stop complaining like the HRPA is doing.  Of course, no one told me that there was a viable threat of this creating an involuntary reporting burden, with that reporting potentially being reported across public companies?  Check please - I'll pass if that's the case.

Lies, damn lies and statistics.  Applause to SHRM for trying to bring us all to one language.  A wagging finger to the same organization if the plan was ever to mandate the reporting standards to public companies. Metrics like turnover numbers and the like mean nothing without industry, geographical and workforce context.

The Five Dysfunctions of #SHRM12

(Note from KD - Today may be the first guest post in the history of the HR Capitalist, and it comes from one of my favorite HR executives in the country - Doug Dean, who gets it like you and I want HR leaders to get it.  This is his review of bloopers at the SHRM national convention.  Read on and check out Doug's bio at the end, look him up on LinkedIn and connect...)

In the waning hours of last week’s SHRM ’12 conference in Atlanta, I was goaded into a playful bet by three long-time HR colleagues.   The bearer of the short stick, we agreed, would publish to the HR Dean1 blogosphere a “worst of” from the SHRM ’12 conference.

Not surprisingly, Lady Luck chose to smite me again, reminding me of the folly of praying for humility.  And so it is that I have the unenviable task of weighing in on those few – and there were precious few indeed – moments from the SHRM ’12 conference which may have elicited shouts of ‘Cut!’ from the director had the conference been a film production.  

Call it an HR Festivus for the rest of us - an airing of grievances for a miniscule minority who witnessed actual human imperfection at SHRM ‘12.  Conference Grand Pooh-Bah of Comedy, Jerry Seinfeld, would insist on the Festivus, whose few invitees stand against the thousands-strong SHRM ‘12 attendees whose faces beam with irrational exuberance, armed as they are with HRCI credits to slay the corporate dragons of dysfunction and assume their rightful place at the table of strategic banter.  

So without further bloviation, let the airing of grievances commence!  

One.  Patrick Lencioni’s Indian Dialect

Lencioni was his usual inspiring and quick-witted self as a presenter, until that one moment that he resoundingly was not.   Generously encouraging audience members to interrupt with questions, Lencioni paused to field one from a gentleman.  The question rose up through the audience microphone, in the questioner’s distinct Indian dialect.  Straining to overcome the room’s reverb and echo problems, Lencioni could not decipher the question.  And like Anchor Man Ron Burgundy’s bad choice of soured milk, Lencioni opted for humor.  “I’m sorry, but the echo is so bad in here,” responded Lencioni, “that all I heard was {here Lencioni attempts a poor impersonation of the question in unflattering Indian dialect}.”

Suffice to say that the attempted humor misfired like a scud missile warhead loaded with two tons of awkwardness.  We all knew Lencioni meant to entertain, not embarrass, so he gets a mulligan.  Dean2

But what we heard and saw was not funny, and came off closer to a public humiliation of a person of Indian ethnicity and language.  Lencioni is at his core a fine human being, an HR Superhero, so which one of you slipped a Kryptonite mickey into his soda?  Patrick, you can right this minor wrong with but one simple act of contrition – wear a tee shirt with the SHRM India logo at your next speaking engagement.  Yes, Mr. Lencioni, India is that important to SHRM, and to the HR profession.

Two.  Malcolm Gladwell’s Manners and Inner Art Garfunkel

Look, we southerners know we’re social antebellum relics, and that you visitors from NYC and LA just wouldn’t understand.  But when you come down here to sit a spell, show your manners.  Mr. Gladwell, Dean3 when in Atlanta, do as the Atlantans.  If you will not whine about it being three years since SHRM invited you to present at the conference, then we will not ask pertinent, searching questions in our southern drawl about that little “stipend” you command that is the annual household income of half of America.  Bless your heart.  

And while I’m at it, having a microphone in your hand is only part of what goes into being an actual rock star.   Gladwell, the consummate storyteller, offered a poignant story of Paul Simon and Garfunkel’s song, “Sounds of Silence”, and how the original recording flopped, until a producer rearranged it using electric guitar and the song rocketed to # 1.   Cool story, Bro.  

Then Malcolm, bless his heart, treated the audience to a few bars of the song.   Keepin’ it real, dog, I thought you were a tad pitchy.  What was sublime, however, was Gladwell’s implied rock star self-parallel to Art Garfunkel (note their identical appearance).  Using my powers of thin slicing (see Blink), it was transparent that Malcolm was sending subliminal messages to the heavily female audience, which he confirmed in his lamentation that those of us over age 35 missed out on the modern Gen Y phenomenon of pulling off over 200 dates in a single year by going public through social media.

        Three.  Seinfeld Skewers the “Society”

You just knew that the comedic genius of our times, Jerry Seinfeld, would laser immediately in on our admittedly pompous brand name, “Society”.  “The SOCIETY,” Seinfeld would quip, “could start a new planet.  We could just scoop all of you up, take you to another planet, and start all over again.  Because you all excel at UNDERSTANDING people, and what they can DO.  And SOMETIMES, what they CAN’T do.  Sometimes, the SOCIETY of Human Resource Management says, PACK UP YOUR STUFF AND GET OUT!”

Comedians help reveal through our laughter where we look really foolish, and I hold that if language creates reality, I’m not sure I like what the name “Society” evokes, but I joined the entire audience in laughing until I cried. 

Simple question, when explaining to a non-HR acquaintance what “SHRM” stands for, do you wince at the first word, or do you proudly belt out “Society”?    

Four.   Didn’t We Figure Out the HR Competencies Back in 2008?

Seriously, a newly constructed “HR Competency Model”?  This one was presented by SHRM’s Alexander Alonso, and I’m sure it’s swell, but I had the same feeling as I used to walking through Sears, wondering what they did with Roebuck ($1 to George Carlin).   Just when you thought HR superhero Dave Ulrich, et. al. had built the definitive competency model (circa 2008), from talent manager, to change steward, to strategy architect, business ally, and credible activist.  Ulrich, you’re fired - out with the old model, in with the new, with its business acumen, consultation, relationship management, and my favorite, impactful communication.  Just when I had become competent, snap back to reality, Oh, there goes gravity.

Five.   Sweating the Petty Atlanta Stuff

Or was it petting the sweaty stuff?  The glorious, yet heavily overpopulated city of Atlanta managed the SHRM mass of humanity about as well as I expected, but it still pegged the traveler’s misery index.  Buses moving at a glacial pace, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, and sweltering heat.  And apparently, the World Congress Center has an escalator maintenance labor union strike it is working to resolve. 

So there it is, bettor’s debt settled!  Two Thumbs Up anyway, Atlanta and SHRM!  You undercharged me, and I’m dropping a check to the SHRM Foundation forthwith!

The Bio: Doug Dean, CCP, SPHR is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and has served as Chief HR Officer Dean4 at Children’s of Alabama, the 3rd largest pediatric healthcare provider in the U.S. since 1999.  He earned his HR cred on the mean streets of compensation and benefits practice in the healthcare, insurance and banking industries, and as such, may be a misfit in the generalist practice of HR.  His passions extend beyond the realm of pursuing HR excellence and into the dark recesses of North America and Canada, where he lives large as an avid outdoorsman when he is not following or writing about his beloved Auburn Tigers. 

HR Capitalist Review of #SHRM12 (2012 SHRM Annual Conference in Atlanta)

I know, I know. Don't most people wait to write a review once a show like SHRM12 is complete?

Yes.  But I already know what I want to say.  I'll update the post once I'm at the show this week with any changes of heart.

Here's the Review: 2461-1-shrm-2012-annual-conference

Big Wins for SHRM12 in Atlanta

Couple of things here, pretty clear ways that SHRM is getting better at the annual event than they used to be...much better:

-Big Names that people actually want to see.  Malcolm Gladwell.  Jerry Seinfeld.  Need I say more?  Pretty good rockstars to build a show around.  In the not too distant past, it feels like Seinfeld wouldn't have been an option based on some of the themes in his show - master of his own domain, etc.  SHRM's starting to connect in this area.  Gladwell is a great choice for the pure innovation/thinking differently angle.  Condeleza Rice?  Not bad, but that just mainly shows that SHRM has a lot of cash.

-SHRM finally gets social.  SHRM has loosened up a lot at the show and is actually encouraging social interaction, which is a function of @shrmsocialmediaguy, Curtis Midkiff, getting traction and support in the organization.  What choice did they have?  None, actually, but it's good to see social traction around the show.

-Some personality in the lead up materials to the show.  Just me, or did anyone else notice that the lead up materials to SHRM12 looked less like a non-profit and more like a organization attempting to build buzz and market?

-ATL.  Our company, Kineitx, is based out of the ATL, so clearly I'm going to think this was a great choice.  Except for the heat.  It's been mild all summer, and it looks like the heat decided to show up.  You're welcome.

Stuff That Still Needs Work

-Sexiness of the sessions.  You've got Gladwell and Seinfeld.  Time to let the hair down a bit on the concurrent content tracks.  No question there's a lot of sessions to choose from, but it's hard to really get excited about the marketing of the sessions, even if they are truly great.  Give me a video pitch, an opportunity to interact with the person presenting, something.  It looks like a librarian wrote them, people.

-Connecting with people attending sessions - would love a tool that allows me to see who's attending what sessions, similar to an evite type of thing.  Just another way the org can join 2012.  Here's your big idea for 2013, SHRM - create profiles of 30 different types of attendees, then have them put together a "playlist" of the sessions they're going to attend - then allow people to select that playlist to get their intial agenda, then modify it and even show the number of people who have intially elected a playlist before they modified it.  Boom - I just solved your concurrent session problem.  You're welcome.

Things That Are Broken

-OK, you've still got the SHRM Members for Transparency group out there, and they sent an email last week saying they got bounced from the space they arranged for their Sunday press conference by SHRM, who told the hotel they weren't authorized, etc.  So the little guys looking to hold the bigger org accountable had to scamble to find space.  Is that true, SHRM?  If so, it's weak.  You need more people (not less) who care enough to spend time, money and energy trying to disrupt the status quo.  #shame.  But hey, you're the boss, right?  Just send one of the administrative bouncers over there to break their collective legs.  

THE OVERALL REVIEW GRADE** - B.  I used to be "C-".  You're doing well.  Don't get too cocky about crushing dissent, though.  That'll cause you to go down even if you keep the production values high.

**How I'll Know You've Really Arrived: At about 50 different prominent spots at the show, you allow a twitter feed to roll allowing registered attendees (no one that's outside the show and no vendors) to say what ever they want to say.  No editing.  At that point, I'll know that you really get a lot of things that you traditionally haven't about transparency and authenticity.  Curtis Midkiff can help you figure that out if you let him, but remember - that suggestion transcends the use of social - it means you're creating an event that's more focused on the thoughts of the user than it is about your organizational level of control. 

Since you're an association, that would make sense.  Have a great show and welcome to Atlanta, SHRM...

The New CEO of SHRM... 2011 Version...

In a sure sign of how I'm feeling these days, I was going to offer no comments related to the new CEO of SHRM.  There were a few things that stuck out to me, sure, but it seemed kind of pointless to wax poetic about the shortcomings of the search and the ultimate candidate who landed in the job.

I changed my mind, mainly due to the group called the SHRM Members for Transparency putting out a press release on their view.

For those of you unaware, Hank Jackson, CPA, is your new SHRM CEO.

Don't care?  I get it.

Come back when you have something interesting to talk about, Kris?  Will do.

Anyway, I'm moved to write about this today because, as a SHRM member, I should care about who the next CEO is.  When I saw the news and explored the background of Jackson, I had some concerns, most of which are outlined in a couple of the memo points I received from SHRM Members for Transparancy:

1. Since last July, SHRM’s website has made reference to the SHRM CEO search being conducted by Korn-Ferry, a major executive search firm.  What does this say about our Society when the Board and Korn-Ferry cannot find a human resource professional to serve as CEO out of one-quarter million SHRM members?

2. However, the most serious concern expressed by many members is that for the first time in the Society’s history, the Chief Executive Staff Officer will not be a human resource management professional.

Those would be my two big questions.  Jackson was the SHRM CFO and is obviously a Finance professional.  What the...

So, start with that, and then ask yourself the next question.  You hired a CFO as the leader of SHRM, and paid Korn-Ferry a retainer to find the next great SHRM leader and you came up with your own CFO...who was already in your organization..  Interesting.

Here's a tip for the kids.  Before you pay a retainer, look around the table and say, "Is there anyone here we might hire before we elect to engage a high-end retained search firm?".  Might save the org 100K.

I've reported directly to a CFO in my career and it worked well for me as a VP of HR, so I get there's value in a good CFO.  But to run the premiere HR membership organization in America?

Hello?  Wouldn't you have gotten all those services from him if he remained CFO and you... wait for it... went and found a dynamic HR Leader to come in to lead the profession you're servicing with your non-profit HR organization?

I get it.  No one cares.  We now return you to regularly scheduled programming.

From SHRM member 453***...

Is SHRM Selling Data Members Provided - Back to Members? At Premium Prices?

Remember - I'm a SHRM member and don't see that changing anytime soon.

But, I haven't been to the site for awhile.  You know what I'd like to go there for?  I'd like to go there for a great understanding of where I stand with Employee Turnover related to my industry peers and other sectors as well.  I'd like to do the same with other metrics.

I know SHRM can do this.  Wait - it's available!  

Wait - apparently I need to fork up $395 to get the data - data that was likely collected directly from members.  

I got an email pitching me on the quality of Turnover Data and related metrics (140 of them) yesterday.  I went to the website and here's what they're pitching:

"Our customized benchmarking reports tackle more than 140 metrics in three critical areas (click for samples): human capitalhealth care, and retirement and welfare. And if you need granularity, we’ve got it. Customize your data by workforce size, industry, geography, profit level, or any number of key criteria.

When it comes to crucial decisions involving cost-per-hire, turnover rates, employer health-care contributions, 401K participation and more — you can’t afford to make uninformed guesses. Fortunately, you can afford the reliable and timely data provided by SHRM Benchmarking.

Unlike other services that charge literally thousands for their data, our reports start at a budget-friendly member price of only $395. As an added value, you can earn up to 20 PHR/SPHR recertification credits by incorporating SHRM data into your job duties."

I'm all for capitalism - thus the name of my blog site.  However, SHRM doesn't exist to be solely capitalist - they exist to serve the membership.

So, let me get this straight:  SHRM Members obviously provide most of the data.  SHRM trades on its name and position as the HR organization of choice to get free participation from others.  

Then they charge members for the database (2-3 times the cost of a membership), and also tweak you by providing free recert credits to anyone who buys.

I love that type of play for any "for-profit" organization.  I like it less for a non-profit organization where I haven't signed in to the website in.... I can't tell you when.

Thanks for the offer SHRM.  I think I'll pass.  But it's a good reminder of what I get for my money.


HR Florida (#shrmfl) - It's Like the Breakfast Club, without Emilio Estevez...

The real value of attending conferences often isn't the content of the sessions, it's talking to the talent attending.  The HR Florida show, while having great content, is no exception. 

I've had at least 5 or 6 extended conversations with really strong HR pros and businesspeople I never would have had a chance to know (who knows where those connections lead, I learned a lot from just talking to them), met the entire team of volunteers that runs the HR Florida Show (one of the best conference groups I've seen) as well as connecting with the attendees of the sessions I helped lead.

Nice.  Really the reason you keep attending shows like this, right?

Right...Then there's the "Breakfast Club", a rag-tag bunch of industry bloggers attending the show pictured below.


A motley crew at best.  That's me in the striped shirt, with Michael Long (the Red Recruiter) next to me, Jessica Lee (Fistful of Talent) in the jacket next to him, Laurie Ruettimann (Punk Rock HR) in the Chuck Taylors next to them, and Michael VanDervort (the Human Race Horses) breaking all kinds of hotel rules and sitting on the molding.

A great bunch of writers and people to get to know.  Thanks for the community guys!  I saw the picture and couldn't help but think of the Breakfast Club with VanDervort sitting up on the ledge and Chuck Taylors in the picture.


I'll Blog, then she'll blog, it'll be ANARCHY....

My #SHRM09 Wrap-up...

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....

How's that for a cliché to lead the wrap?  Because, that's all I got...SHRMLOGOPuzzle

SHRM09 in New Orleans was good.  Like most of my blogging peers, I'm thrilled to see China Gorman lead the charge regarding opening up the organization to social media, both for coverage for the convention, and overall as part of their business.  It WAS GREAT to meet all the folks I've followed for so long in the HR Blogging world, and the talent is too numerous to mention individually.  If you were at the tweetup (a meeting for twitter users at a conference) or the conference as a blogger or a tweeter, consider yourself included.  If you weren't there, I hope to meet you soon.

So, the social media thing is great...  Still, I wonder if all the buzz around the HR blogging community is 100 people out of 250K congratulating themselves and SHRM, while the other 7,000 attendees of the conference float without a similar anchor community.

Is anyone else listening?  

SHRM is a big organization.  It has to try and be everything to everyone because it takes all comers, as it should, as THE membership organization for the industry.  Mark Stelzner did a good job outlining the career levels and their reactions to the SHRM experience, so check out his wrap-up here.

So, the biggest issue SHRM has is their size.  For me, I don't want employment law out of the SHRM conference because I read enough to get that on my own.  I want the intersection of business and talent. More importantly, I want to figure out who the 300 people are at the SHRM Convention who are energized by the same mix, and I want to meet them.

At the conference - in real time. 

That's the secret sauce moving forward for SHRM.  People walk away from SHRM because they feel it doesn't serve their individual needs.  A bunch of bloggers and tweeters got together at SHRM and discovered a powerful community.  That's cool, but not the reality for the rest of the membership...

What can SHRM do to create similar communities in 50 other niche areas?  That's the segmentation riddle that SHRM has to solve, and it's not easy.  Social media can enable some parts of those prospective communities, but it's not the silver bullet.

The social media aspect to SHRM09 showed the power of the niche community within SHRM, and as a result, I'm more aligned with SHRM than I've been for some time.

Can they accomplish the same feeling across 250K members?  That's the opportunity, as well as the daunting task.

Good luck, SHRM.  I'm pulling for you as a result of the conference.

SHRM09 Interview - China Gorman On the State of the SHRM National Conference...

True story - I'm getting ready to talk to China Gorman (SHRM COO) on Tuesday at the SHRM National Conference, and a Caucasian dude walks up to China and rips off something like this:


China said something back in the same language.  Then the dude ripped off something like this:


At which point China indicated she didn't speak the language.

So the guy points out her nametag and says words to the effect of "But your name is China, so I...."

Awkward silence.  The guy was dead serious.  Dude, If you're reading this today, you were a super nice guy, but I had to share that story... Duuuuuuude....

ANYWAY, since this was the first SHRM conference I've attended in awhile, I thought I would sit down with China and talk about the state of the Annual SHRM Conference.  The video of our conversation is below and the topics include:

1.  WARMUP - what were China's favorite moments at the SHRM conference in New Orleans?

2.  Welch and Kotter - Those were the two hot speakers this year, how does SHRM intend to keep the business/HR flow going in future years? 

3.  Dave Ramsey - What happened?  Why were so many attendees talking smack?

4.  Why aren't there more pure HR practitioners presenting at the show?

5.  What are the toughest issues SHRM faces in providing a great experience to HR practitioners in the field?

6.  SOFTBALL: What's China's favorite Sheryl Crow song?

7.  Next Year's Music: Can I get a he** yeah for AC/DC?  Or since it's in San Diego, how about some local flavor with a little Blink-182?

Take a look.  Thanks to SHRM for having the HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent teams out to cover the show.  A trip worth taking...

KD + China Gorman from Fistful of Talent on Vimeo.

Capitalist Note - I knew as soon as I said it that AC/DC formed in Australia, but I'm steeped in the band's European history, like the fact that Bon Scott died in London... I'm a little surprised that China didn't correct me on that one... Anyway, it'll be good to see the boys in San Diego.  You want a band from down under?  Go find the lead singer from Men at Work...

A Blogging Panel at SHRM Mean's It's Time for the Jerry Springer Show...

Capitalist Note: I'm on the scene at the SHRM 2009 National Conference in New Orleans.  So the news is all-SHRM, all the time.  I might bash the organization many love to hate or hug it out with the organization people rely on for cheap access to Sheryl Crow with Convention Center sound quality.  I'm tricky like that....

Oh yeah... It's almost time for the blogger's panel at SHRM today (11:30 Central).. Which can only mean one thing:

"Let's get ready to Rumbleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"!

The session name for our event, officially cleaned up by the SHRM marketing team, is "HR Bloggers:  Who are these people and why should I care?"

It should read: "The HR Bloggers: Damn, There Are a Lot of Type A's on that Stage...Is There Enough Oxygen?"

Consider the cast:

Laurie Ruettimann -   Former corporate HR, now Punk Rock HR.  Go read the site.  If she decides to bring the "A" game with snark, it could get ugly early.  She can turn on the charm or the punk...  It's the difference between a corporate retreat or the Springer show referenced in the title.

Jessica Lee - Editor of Fistful of Talent, HR practitioner and sole gal at Jessica Lee Writes.  Once made an FOT staffer cry with her quality demands.  "I don't care how you make it happen, just make it brilliant in 600 words or less".  If I've heard that once, I've heard it 1,000 times around the FOT office.  Can turnover problems at Fistful be far behind?  Am I going to have to return to run the show like Steve Jobs?

Lance Haun - He's Your HR Guy, he's my HR guy.  Met him for the first time at the conference, GREAT guy.  I'm thinking he's capable of a brutal sneak attack as a result.  I've got my eye on him for that reason alone... You're not fooling anyone with that, "Hey, I'm a nice guy.. What's the Trailblazers score?" act, Lance....  I'm onto you brother...

Kris Dunn - That's me, KD, in the city surrounded by the sea.  True story, I was out to dinner with some industry friends on Monday and they informed me that the movie that most typified my personality was "Up", which I'm thinking is a kid's movie about hope, imagination, etc.  I thought I was more sinister than that, which means I'm going to have to prove it to the world.  I'll be hyped up like the Eminem wannabe you see on Springer in the sleeveless T with 3 Red Bulls in his system.

So that's your lineup.  What could go wrong?  I'm going to suggest we start the session with a nice game of musical chairs just to get the blood going a bit...

The only thing that will keep this thing between the ditches? The panel will be live-streamed to anyone who wants it and will also be video-archived for the rest of history...

PS - check back here around game time at 11:30 Central today.  I'll have a post up with the live stream...

SHRM09 - 3 Reasons Why "SHRM Connect" Will Rock... And 3 Reasons It Will Die a Death That Involves Twitching...

Capitalist Note: I'm on the scene at the SHRM 2009 National Conference in New Orleans.  So the news is all-SHRM, all the time.  I might bash the organization many love to hate or hug it out with the organization people rely on for cheap access to Sheryl Crow with Convention Center sound quality.  I'm tricky like that....

So SHRM Connect is out in beta form....  For those of you that have no clue, SHRM Connect is theSHRMLOGOPuzzle social networking play from SHRM, the pure HR play/answer to Facebook,, or every other Ning network you've ever subscribed to.

I took a spin.  It's either going to be huge or die a slow death inside the walls of SHRM.  With that in mind, here are the 3 Reasons why SHRM Connect may be a great success at SHRM:

1. SHRM's a battleship, and nobody brings the scale that SHRM does to the table.  250K in auto-generated accounts will do that for you (every active member of SHRM has an account waiting for them, they just have to claim it)....Again, that's a quarter of a million members to the social network IF they sign in...

2. SHRM's the training wheels for those who haven't experienced social media.  Somebody tweeted the question "what % of HR Pros at SHRM are using social media?" on Monday.  Same person guessed 25%.  Take the personal facebook account out of the mix, and I'm guessing 10% would be a kind answer to this question.  SHRM solves the "social networking sure looks scary" objection that HR pros have regarding social media by providing a controlled social media experience that the more conservative HR pro might actually try. 

3. If they're smart, SHRM can work on a technology backbone that would customize the user experience for the member in question.  You're a comp pro?  Great, because on the side of your personalized page, we're serving up compensation content and also telling who you should connect with that shares your background.  Boom! They could make it a pretty strong community with the right customization, one that would be tough to beat elsewhere from an HR standpoint...

Of course, it's never that easy.  Here are 3 Reasons why SHRM Connect may die an ugly death, the kind that involves involuntary twitching:

1.  SHRM's a battleship, and that can be a good AND a bad thing.  Good that you have 250K in social media accounts.  Bad if you have to water down the experience because you're trying to be "everything to everyone", and wind up pleasing no one.

2.  Zere Vill Be No Korousing in de SHRM Connect (Best Nazi voice I could muster in print).  Censor it too much and folks will try SHRM Connect, determine they don't like ze Vanilla, and go somewhere else for the rocky road.  Cut the graphic pictures and curse-festered, threatening rants out of the mix on the social network called SHRM Connect, leave everything else the users say and do.  It's called authenticity, and SHRM has to leave stuff that will go against its conservative nature in order to keep the eyeballs - and the trust.

3.  I'm Buried Under a 10-Layer website and can't get up.'s a huge site, and unless SHRM commits to giving SHRM Connect a lot of visibility on the home page, no one will know it's there.  Even if they put it on the home page with a big button that says "Free Swag" (known to work with HR types), I'm not sure they can make it cut through the clutter.  Tough issue for SHRM...

See a trend?  The success of the SHRM Connect depends on SHRM being big when it matters, but acting small at every other turn.  Not something the 800-lb gorilla has done well in the past.  Try it in its beta form and check back periodically, and remember ----

Remember - Zere Vill Be No Korousing in de SHRM Connect.  Zat is all.