Confessions of a LASHRM14 Speaker

Posted by Sarah Williams on April 2, 2014 in HR Conferences and Events |
confessions of a lashrm14 speaker

In 5 days, I return to Baton Rouge for my 3rd consecutive Louisiana SHRM State Conference!!

2 years ago, LASHRM became the first conference I attended as apart of the Social Media team (Read about that HERE). Last year, LASHRM became the first conference I attended as a Concurrent session speaker … I return as a Concurrent speaker again this year — covering 2 sessions: one panel session on social media/networking and a second session I’m leading entitled “Don’t Let 360 Feedback Make You Dizzy,” which is all about successfully structuring a 360-review program.

Riveting stuff, I know. And as I put finishing touches on my presentation, the same bittersweet, anxious feeling that I get whenever I speak at a conference is creeping up on me …

First, I wonder why I’m doing this to myself?!? My inner introvert hates every part of speaking in front of people. However, as I’ve said before, the voice of the HR practitioner is needed in the HR Conference space. So my inner introvert just has to suck it up and deal.

Then I worry that my session will be empty. And at LASHRM, this is a legitimate concern. The conference is filled to the gills with great content. Check out this lineup!! You will want the slideshare decks on these presentations when the conference is done. You may be able to get video on some of the sessions — including mine. I will post links to all that when I return.

Then I worry that I’ll miss something. With all the great sessions, I can’t possibly fit everything in. Many of the speakers are friends of mine and people I’ve come to really respect so I want to support them and glean those HR goodies! It’s a good problem to have, in the grand scheme.

Mostly, I am looking forward to spending time with my HR friends and colleagues , especially my blog-FFs from Performance I Create. And I’m glad to have the opportunity to connect and recharge my HR batteries because I really need it as I set goals for the 2nd half of the year. 2014 has already been quite a doozy!

Please follow and share this journey with me on Twitter and Instagram by following the #LASHRM14 hashtag starting Sunday morning. Wheels up at 10am!! Red Stick or bust!!



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HR Under the Gunn

Posted by Sarah Williams on March 5, 2014 in Mentoring, Training & Development |
HR Under the Gunn

I am not a fashionista — I’m too practical, frugal and tomboyish for it. But I love fashion! I read the magazines and blogs; I follow trends and pay attention to designers. And I often combine my love of fashion and reality TV with reality competition shows like Project Runway and The Fashion Fund … So I was really excited when I learned fashion instructor/mentor and long-term co-host of Project Runway, Tim Gunn, was getting his own spin-off show!

On “Under the Gunn”, 12 novice designers are split into 3 teams with each team coached by up-and-coming designer; and each up-and-comer coached by Gunn. The winning designer and the winning coach get a huge prize at the end.

What I immediately found interesting was the relationship of the up-and-comers to the novice designers … Their coaching and developing skills were sorely lacking!

  • One was too nice. The coach was so  concerned with everyone getting along and not upsetting or possibly discouraging any of the novices that barely any feedback was given. The coach let the novices think their work was great — only to be rudely awakened by tough criticism by the judges on the runway.
  • One was too harsh. The coach criticized every choice the novices made until the novices were left with nothing but boring options that lacked innovation. The coach had the novices thinking they weren’t ready for the opportunity and the judges demolished them for playing it too safe.
  • One was too hands-on. The coach literally took the scissors and patterns from the novices and started “fixing” their work for them. The product was something that didn’t reflect the novices’ point of view and couldn’t be defended to the judges.

Sound familiar? It should! Because it happens all the time when HR promotes people into new leadership roles.

It is easy to be awesome when working alone and the only person, ideas and results to worry about are your own. However, making the transition to helping others realize their own ideas and results is much more difficult … So difficult, in fact, many are never able to successfully able to do it. Many end up getting demoted, terminated or settling for mediocre results.

What can HR do about this? How do we get ourselves and other managers out from under the gun?

Tim Gunn makes the answer clear — mentoring.

It would have been easy and made great reality TV drama to leave each of the coaches to their own negative devices, knowing it would lead to everyone’s demise … Instead, Gunn made a central part of the show his stepping to provide coaching to the coaches.

If we want to get ourselves and the managers in our organizations out from under the gun, we have to follow this example. We have to create, encourage and foster mentoring relationships. No matter how high we have ascended, we always have more to learn and can benefit from the guidance and wisdom of someone else.

Mentoring is the only way to ensure everyone’s best efforts and best work are brought to the forefront so the outcomes and the competition are at the best level … Because, deep down, we all want to be the best and beat the best when they’re at their best.

Mentoring is how we get HR from under the gun! Got it? Good. Now, make it werk!

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Who’s The Boss?

Posted by Sarah Williams on February 19, 2014 in Leadership |
who's the boss -- like a boss

We’ve had quite a bit of snow in NC this winter. Schools have been closed for several days and I’ve brought my kids with me to the office. I’m fortunate to work places that allow me that leeway and flexibility. I don’t take it for granted at all.

A couple years ago, I brought my daughter to the office when she was sick and I wrote this post on her observations (Spoiler alert — she thought it was boring; but her reasons will surprise you!) … I was anxious to hear what she would say about my new office and co-workers after spending time there for almost a full day.

She didn’t think my new office was boring. However, she had some interesting thoughts on my boss. When I asked her what she thought about my boss, she said “Ms. Kay? I like her. She’s nice.”

Ms. Kay is not my boss. She is the HR intern. “Why do you think she’s the boss?”

“She came in late and she left early. She has the biggest room out of everybody. And she gets to come into your office to make you sign stuff. She’s the boss.”

Let’s break this down …

Coming in late and leaving early. The intern is a student so she works only a few hours, a few days a week … However, even at her age, my daughter knows “the boss” doesn’t always work as hard or long as those in support roles. This is kinda true. Lots of bosses think they’ve paid their dues and being in charge is permission to slack off. It isn’t. Good bosses are usually the first in and the last out.

Biggest office. The intern has a desk and work area in the file room … However, my daughter knows “the boss” gets the biggest room. This is usually true — but the space should not be wasted. It should be an inviting space that encourages camaraderie, creativity and candor. Good bosses make their office an oasis and a haven.

Make people do stuff. The intern brings me documents to sign for approval to process and/or pay. She comes in, nicely asks me to sign-off and I usually comply … However, my daughter knows “the boss” tells people what to do –and they do it! And if they don’t do it, there is trouble. This is also kinda true — but bullying and threatening people to get compliance will not lead to long term success. Authority and power should be used to develop and motivate the people in your influence. Good bosses build people up to make the work environment better and faster.

Being the boss is about being willing to guide, help and serve the people you work with and work for – no matter the size of your office or staff or organization.

My real boss was the person who helped my daughter get potato chips out of the snack cabinet when she couldn’t reach the top shelf.

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It’s the HR Carnival … Of Love & Other Stuff!!

Posted by Sarah Williams on February 12, 2014 in Guest Bloggers, Guest Contributions, Mash-Ups & Collaborations |
carnival of hr -- buzz on hr

February is a short month … but it’s also a great month and one of my favorite months of the year! We celebrate Black History and highlight the accomplishments of African-Americans in the USA in February. We celebrate Valentine’s Day and highlight the importance of love and romance in February. Usually, we celebrate the best of the year’s movies at the Oscars in February as well – but this year, the awards airs on March 2nd.

Oh well. Close enough.

So when I saw my friend Shauna Griffis post on Facebook that she needed a blogger to host the HR Carnival for this week, I jumped on it! I’ve been a follower of the Carnival since before I started blogging. I really respect their commitment to sharing great content and featuring new HR blogging voices.

Because it is February, I asked for contributions along the themes of Love in the Workplace, Diversity and Great HR Lessons from the Movies … Enjoy the show!


Karin Hurt gives great perspective on male/female workplace friendships and breaking down boys club barriers in “Can Men & Women Be Friends At Work?”

Looking for seedy tales of workplace whoopee? Then you MUST read these posts from Sabrina Baker and Chris Fields – they are sure to raise your eyebrows and make you blush, giggle and flinch


You’ll never hear me argue against passion for work and showing love for others at work as essential, necessary and desirable for a successful employment relationship. That’s why these 3 posts had to be included in this Carnival –

- 5 Signs You Found the Love of Your Work Life by Troy Lutz from WagePoint

- Falling In Love with Your Employees by Chris Fields from eSkills

- Legacy HRMS / Legacy Marriage — Sunk Costs vs Innovation by Naomi Bloom


Tiffany Keuhl encourages you to “Free Your Mind” about traditional ideas and plans surrounding diversity at work. Dwane Lay supports these notions and adds some more ideas to the mix in his post “What’s Missing From Diversity”   then Andrew Tarvin ties it all together with “8 Benefits of an Inclusive Organization“… And I absolutely loved this post from Ian Welsh which combines his thoughts on diversity strategy with the Wizard of Oz!! It just don’t get much better than A Brain, A Heart, The Nerve”

For those who’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know how much I love television and the movies! I pull a lot of wisdom and great workplace lessons from there. So even though the Oscars are on the outskirts of February this year, I still have give honorable mention and share this from Dan McCarthy’s Great Leadership Blog “The 2013 Movie Edition” (spoiler alert: there are GIFs!! Yay!!)

Finally, in direct honor of Black History Month, I want to share this post from my friend Dave Ryan (Black History from an Old White Guy) which was written in response to my post “The N-Word” (oh yes. I went there) back in 2012.

Thank you for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed the Carnival! Check out the website to find out the next stop — and find out how you too can be a host!

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Certifiably SPHR Certified

Posted by Sarah Williams on February 5, 2014 in SPHR, Training & Development |
i passed the sphr

Well, I did it … I successfully passed the SPHR exam on my first attempt! I still can’t believe I did it, but I did.

As I said in my last post, I felt a lot of pressure and anxiety heading in to the exam. And it was my sincerest hope I would come out of the exam with some kind of insight I could share with others on what to do or study or focus on to increase their chances of success on the exam.

Sorry. I got nothing … But I will share what I think worked in my favor.

  • Tell people about it … I know my family, friends and followers got sick of my posts. However, it was important for people to know what I was working on. The encouragement kept me going when I felt like slacking. And all the eyes on me made me feel more pressure to pass — although I always knew it could go either way … Sharing keeps you accountable.
  • Know how much time you have, how you learn and plan accordingly … I know how I learn best and what turns me off. I knew my life couldn’t stop completely for studying. I knew my time and money for study resources were limited. All this came into play as I created and worked my plan … Be prepared to schedule and commit to a program that works for your life and learning style.
  • Wait as long as possible to take the test … I took my test on the last possible day at the last possible time slot for the 2013 year. Although it was hard to watch and wait as others finished before me, I was able to benefit from their suggestions and advice … Glean as much as you can from the experience of others.

Otherwise, my advice is pretty much the same as what’s already out there — Study and study and study some more. Then study a lot. Then study again … But even with all that studying, passing or failing is still a coin-toss. And you still will feel like you are failing for the entire duration of the 3 hour exam.

I wish nothing but success and luck to everyone preparing for the Spring/Summer 2014 exams. I am happy to pass along the names of the study materials I used – if you’re close enough, I will give my materials to you!

Cuz I’m never going to need that stuff again! No way I want to retake that test so I will pursue my recertification credits like a woman possessed.

I am forever certifiably SPHR certified.

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