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Thousands of Human Resource professionals descended on New Orleans a few weeks ago. When I say thousands, I mean around 13,000. There were even more Human Resource professionals attending virtually. What a whirlwind of education and networking!

Our Purple Ink team was well represented by not only professional development attendance, but also professional development education by speaking at multiple sessions. We are a strong and mighty group, growing even stronger with amazing staff!

I have been attending the national SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) conference since 1998. My goodness – that has been a few years now. During the conference, it continually dawned on me that times, they are a-changing! Professional development has historically been heavy on compliance, on processes, on ways to do your job better. Now, it still includes that, but it is so much more. It is how to BE better.

As HR professionals, we have always ensured organizations remember that people are their greatest asset. But have we been living that? After this year’s conference, I am not so sure we have.

You know those a-ha moments that we occasionally have in life? Aren’t they the best? I sure think so! Well, this conference I had quite a few. It got me thinking differently and looking at what we in the HR profession do differently. All of our focus, no matter the industry, should be on people and our connections. Yes, you would think that would have always been the focus of Human Resources, right? I am not so sure.

This year’s conference theme was “Cause the Effect.” I must admit that I was a little confused on what exactly that meant. Johnny C. Taylor, CEO of SHRM, kicked off the conference with an analogy of a Thermometer and a Thermostat. After his story, I completely understood. In short, here is the metaphor. A thermometer measures what the temperature is – it tells you what is going on. A thermostat causes a change. YOU are in control and turn it up or down. WOW!!! I immediately got it and let me tell you, that was a very powerful visual for me. It is what we as HR professionals have always wanted – to be proactive. We need to stop measuring where we are right now and start being the ones that are causing the effect. Get a handle on that thermostat and be the one making an impact.

So many powerful speakers were on-hand and amazing messages were shared. Arianna Huffington’s conversation was another memorable moment for me. I walked away envisioning a two-legged stool. We all can balance on that for a while, but eventually we will topple over. What is supporting our stool? What other “legs” do we need to add to make it an even stronger, more balanced stool? I obviously am a very visual learner!

My final takeaway to share with you was said in many different ways by many different presenters. I have been in Human Resources for over 25 years, and I grew up in the “poker face” era, meaning we never let our guards down, we did not let our emotions show on our face, in our body language. We were caring and empathetic, we were just reserved. Guess what? We are human! Yes, it is true. It is okay to let those in our lives know we are human. Stop hiding behind the shield that many of us were groomed to hide behind. We care and that is great! We get frustrated and have emotions and that is okay! Be vulnerable. Be authentic.

The final thought I would like to share is our success story. When we are no longer working with someone, what will be the success story that person in our professional life will share? I strongly doubt it will be about the profits, the presentation we gave, the project we completed. Yes, those are important, but there is something more important. It is how you made someone feel. That is the impact we all have the opportunity to make. That is what people will say about you. That is your success story!

So here is my challenge to you – what will you do to TRULY focus on people and connections? How will you increase engagement? What people-related programs are you going to implement to make an impact?

Interested in talking more about how you can start causing the effect at your organization? Reach out to Purple Ink!

Kim Dinwiddie
Kim Dinwiddie
Kim is the Vice President of Coaching and Consulting Services at Purple Ink. Her passion is providing HR solutions to clients by helping them build their HR infrastructure through technology, compliance, and people.

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