My Advice to SHRM: Think Small, Act Small, and Develop a Sense of Humor

Editor’s note: Longtime HR pros Laurie Ruettimann and Tim Sackett have strong feelings about the Society for Human Resource Management. With SHRM’s annual conference coming up, we thought TLNT readers would appreciate their insights into SHRM — and it’s future. 

By Tim Sackett

For anyone who reads my blog, you know I have healthy love-hate relationship with SHRM.

I need to explain this relationship because so often people tell me to just forget about SHRM and move on with my life – sort of like you would with an ex-girlfriend. The problem is I don’t love SHRM like an ex-girlfriend; I love SHRM like someone loves golf or basketball.

It’s the kind of love that when you hit a great shot in golf you love the game, then the next shot you hit into the water, and you hate the game but you keep coming back each week to play again.

I don’t want to give up on SHRM, I want SHRM to be what I need it to be as someone who loves the profession of HR.

Get big and you become vanilla

So, here’s what I need from SHRM. I need SHRM to act small. I need SHRM to act like a niche organization. I need SHRM to stop trying to be all things to all HR Pros.

You know what happens when you’re big and you act big? You become vanilla. You become Chevy. You become something a bunch of people will buy, but no one truly loves. People put up with you, they don’t reach out for you. You’ve become the necessary evil within the profession.

So, the million dollar question is this: what does that look like or how does SHRM do that – smaller?

Trying to be all things to all people kills almost every single company and organization, eventually. It might take 10 years, it might take 100 years, but eventually someone else will come along and be the company or organization a person is looking for.

It will feel special. It will feel exclusive (like me having an SPHR). SHRM tries to be a one-stop shop for all things HR, and as such, the majority of the development and material teaches to the lowest common denominator.

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Best practices? How about groundbreaking instead?

Go above “best practices”  and reach for “groundbreaking.” Have a goal to ‘Wow’ the membership with such great insight it blows them away. In the end, other professional organizations should be reaching out to you on how they can do the same for their professionals.

Go beyond HR 101 and show HR Pros the importance of leading and running the business. I want my SHRM to lead the transformation of HR, not be part of old HR that is joked about across industries.

Also, I want my SHRM to have a little bit of a sense of humor!

SHRM, have you attended a conference outside of HR? Holy mother of Francis, you guys take yourself seriously! Lighten up – we’re the people, people. It’s all right to make fun of our profession, because that’s an easy way to have some open and honest discussion on how to change.

But one last thing – stop allowing boring people to speak at SHRM conferences!

Here’s how you select a great lineup: you must educate and entertain (not or, it’s “and”), you must give the audience something they can use tomorrow in their HR shop, and it wouldn’t hurt if these great speakers had red hair and lived in DeWitt, MI.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.

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