Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Live from #SHRM15 - Emerging Trends in Human Resources

We Did It! Certifications were earned, inspiration ignited, new products and services purchased, new reading materials acquired, t-shirts earned, new friendships forged and new employment opportunities extended.

Dear Friends, The 2015 SHRM Annual Conference has now concluded.

You can find my coverage of the event here:
Snap Shot (Day 1)
Knowledge (Day 2)
Inspiration (Day 3)

This was the best of the 8 SHRM conferences I have attended for a few reasons:
1. Speakers were informative and inspiring.
2. The Exhibitor Hall was light of Swag and heavy on meaningful conversation.
3. Attendees were purposeful in their networking and astoundingly positive.
4. The SHRM Staff and Volunteer Core did an AMAZING job with Meeting Logistics.
5. The SHRM Bookstore was full of relevant material.
6. The Smart Stage afforded snap shot insight from some of the best thinkers in the industry.

As we head home to share what we have learned, I feel compelled to advise the trends I see developing in HR!

Fewer Employee Recognition Vendors
In years past, companies thought that developing a platform, buying gift cards in bulk or reselling trophies would engage employees. The idea of copy catting legacy vendors to turn a quick buck has proven a failed strategy. In recent months we've seen Grass Roots cease US Operations and Achievers acquired by The Blackhawk Group.... hundreds of other Employee Recognition vendors have tried and failed to succeed in the industry.

Employee Engagement partnership requires:
1. A large group of smart, creative human beings seated all around the globe.
2. Technology that is scaled, integrated, protected, social, and mobile.
3. A robust choice of achievement mementos.
4. Consultants that design impactful initiatives specific to your workforce (and your workforce only).
5. The ability to measure with precise efficiency the Return on your program Investment (and to re-scale accordingly).

6. A variety of services ranging from:
a. Social platforms
b. Learning assistance complimented by e-learning technology
c. Meeting support
d. Analytics
e. Workforce consultation with real time measurement.
f. The ability to correlate Customer Satisfaction with Employee Engagement ratings.
g. Assistance in making re-sellers part of your organizational strategy.
h. To track and measure the excellence rating of EVERY employee.      

The aforementioned is really difficult. It takes years of experience, a large workforce of diverse talents and Business CAPITAL that is constantly re-invested into improving the business.

The End of Dictatorships
The generations in the workforce are growing together and learning from one another in an effort to improve the work experience. Most organizations still consider the annual performance review part of their management process... it will not last. Advancements in technology have made it possible to measure and share employee progress in real time. The manager to employee relationship is now assisted by the socialization of each employee's progress report.

Baselines That Create Roadmaps
At #SHRM15 there were learning sessions filled with data that were boring and highly-energetic speakers that didn't make a single point.

The solution to our Engagement Crisis needs to start with hard data and well-designed initiatives. We must then use frequent face-to-face socialization of each employee's specific goals for success. Our leaders need to be interactive, vulnerable, personable and collaborative. Leadership is an act of servitude.

Technology is the starting point. Human Beings have to carry the torch into the workplace (with the willingness to get burned).

In summation:
- Only the truly excellent can execute HR Services Partnerships!
- Performance reviews as we know them WILL change drastically!
- Holacracy is coming... and it WILL work!

See you next year at #SHRM16 in our nation's capital.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Debriefing Day 3 @ #SHRM15

A poetry slam, swanky Marcus Buckingham sware' and an 80's jam couldn't keep me from waking up at 6am to hustle over to the HR Capital of the Universe. I step into the Vegas heat, my heart pumping pure mini-bar, then jump into a bus blasting a Rico Suave / Maria Maria mash up at 10,000 watts. It's Day 3 at the SHRM Annual Conference and there is no time for Tom Foolery... We've got knowledge to consume.

What a better way to wake up than with HR's Global Ambassador of Awesome Mr. Steve Browne. Steve has been advocating his love for HR for years in social media and through his hard-fought human connections. He is simply one of the most giving people in the profession.

Mika Brzezinski brought a delightfully empowering message to the female dominated crowd. Her lipstick also matched her sweater (I think you get extra points for that).

In an unfortunate incident J Hud's Crew decided to sound check during Jason Lauritsen's Smart Stage presentation. I hope he throws swag left over from the Exhibitor Hall on stage during her set.

Bryan Wempen Wrote a Book... you should buy it!

The Day Crescendo-ed with a presentation chalk full of data and strategy from Brendan Browne of Linked-In. Not for the less strategic HR Pros, this session was ultra-precise in the step-by-step process of using data to find talent.... and executing the recruiting plan.

So there you have it from one Browne to another and everything in-between. It was another truly inspiring day at the SHRM Annual Conference. I could not be more grateful to have the opportunity to be part of the SHRM Blog Squad! It's been a thrill of a lifetime to write, present and brainstorm with all of the talented positive thinkers in Las Vegas this week.

One More Day to Go!

Dave Kovacovich

Monday, June 29, 2015

#SHRM15 - Debriefing Day 2

My phone awakens me that it is 4:45 am. Time to shake off a weekend worth of Dead Shows and head to Sin City to hang out with my Sisters & Brothers in the Human Resources profession. What could possibly go wrong?

Having been to the SHRM Annual Conference nearly 10 times, my event navigation is far more streamlined than a first time attendee. I head to the Dice Bloggers lounge to pick up my badge.

Reframing Engagement
For decades Gallup has been the default source of employee information gathering. Their survey questions written in 1993 remain the benchmark for workforce engagement in many organizations. It's nice to see that former Gallup Principals, Marcus BuckinghamRodd Wagner, have branched out on their own to re-write the Rules of Engagement. Buckingham rocked the morning keynote.

Caring Is Not Creepy    
We've heard the Zappos story of creating culture to such an extent that Mary Faulkner has made drinking game out of it.

That said, Zappos (drink) Speaker of The House, Jamie Naughton, pulled back the curtain on how Human Resources works at Zappos.

Talent Management is a function of Holacracy: admittedly a work in progress if any company can successfully eliminate bureaucracy it's Zappos (drink). They have replaced the organizational hierarchy with tasks and circles: Employees focus on their strengths and prioritize their time accordingly instead of relying on a title or departmental affiliation to guide their workplace behaviors. They are assigned a circle of advisers to mentor their progress.

Total Rewards Replaced By Personal Emotional Connections 

Zappos (drink) affords employees the standard medical package (which includes fertility aid). Employees are asked to volunteer 20% of their time to activities that fall outside of their core job description. Most compelling is the Zappos (drink) Wishez program. Through this program employees submit a request to a network that any co-worker can address. Requests range from liver donations to morning coffee.

What remains endearing about the Zappos Culture (Drink Twice) is that employees are encouraged to investigate the lives of their co-workers and customers. If a customer is having a bad day, and the customer service representative can sense it, they have a flower budget to send them a special token of their empathy. Not all Wishez are granted but the requests provide a window beyond the workplace that humanizes their workforce & customers.

It's always good to see @DaveTheHRCzar

Robin Schooling made The Smart Stage her bitch!

... and the day's programming concluded with the always inspiring duo of Lauritsen & Gerstandt

Think About It!

See You Tomorrow!

Dave Kovacovich

Friday, June 26, 2015

#SHRM15 Snap Shot

It's Here, It's On, It's Go Time!!!!

Over the next few days the Human Resource Leaders of Today, Tomorrow and Yesterday will be racing through McCarran Airport, their thirst at full quench for workforce management knowledge.

There have been a thousand pieces written in advance of this event and a million post cards are now gracing attendees waste baskets. So, once you've checked in and loaded your i-pad with travel entertainment, reference this conglomeration of knowledge to streamline your #SHRM15 experience:

Meet the SHRM 15 Bloggers

Tons of Nuggets from the HR Blog Squad

* You absolutely MUST FOLLOW the aforementioned HR experts to gather information directly from sessions (in real time) as well as all the breaking news from the conference floor in Las Vegas.

Advice on Navigating the Conference

Don't Forget: Vendors Are People Too

Connect with the future of HR through YPAC

Nightlife @ SHRM

Recommended Sessions:
Robin Schooling (the smartest lady in HR on the Smart Stage)

Tim & Kris Talking HR Tech

Total Entertainment: Jason & Joe will literally get the crowd on their feet in #HR Vegas

WAKE UP with Steve, Trish and a Whole Lotta HR Tech

WAKE UP with THE ONE MAN EVERYONE in HR needs to know

Getting The C-Suite's Attention with the Lovely Jennifer McClure

LinkedIn's Recruiting Wiz Kid on Hiring Better

Dave & Donna on Running an HR Department of One

* Many of these speakers are conducting multiple session and they all ROCK so schedule your event flow here

That outta get you started.... It's time to learn, network, read, absorb, expand your mind, have a cocktail and possibly grab a few minutes by the pool. Las Vegas is your oyster... slurp it up now because those things spoil in the desert.

I will be in the Bloggers Lounge all week. Come see me or follow/contact me on Twitter -

See you all in Las Vegas! Travel Safe!

Dave Kovacovich

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Requesting Your Company

Kate Tempest spoke about how music made everything seem more important. That the sound took over her soul and the words gave her life a purpose. The artists brought an urgency to things which made her understand how precious every moment can be and what a crime it is to waste time on the mundane.

We affiliate the term urgency with paranoia, impatience or immediacy. But cannot urgency be affiliated with a need to live in the moment? We need not rush to prove ourselves but to emphasize the importance of removing our blinders.

Think about the breakthroughs in your life. Life altering moments may come through hearing a song, watching a sporting event, through a dream or just taking a walk.

Some times we just get comfortable. Some times we just get bored.... if you bring yourself to believe that everything is important... maybe it all will be!

Be Positive
I remember the point in which I accepted that my life was no longer going to be about ME! That I was going to have to tone down my narcissism (which was no small task) to make room for others. I vowed to listen to a whole lot of Flaming Lips and Polyphonic Spree as my soundtrack for conquering every day. I failed.

Pretending to ignore your inefficiency simply isn't a remedy. Smart people are naturally pessimistic but the heart matters more. If you waste your life outsmarting the competition, you may never get on the field.

Audience Ears
I've made a life as a salesman. I learned how to speak in public and how to be charming.... and then I realized it was more important to listen than to talk.

Empathy is a salesperson's best friend: The ability to ask questions that allow another to share their expertise (or at least share their story).... to nod your head not just shake hands.

If people know you are willing to listen, they will tell you anything.

Revisiting The Victories
We tend to look back on life with the mindset of where it all went wrong. We sit up at night worrying about what might go wrong. We tend to forget about all the awesomeness and how infrequently our fears have manifested themselves.

Case-in-point: Think about that person who you let down or embarrassed....? Then you see them again and they remind you of all the great times you had together. The only shame is that you didn't pick up the phone sooner.

Past failures can be mended, no one expects you to be perfect and you've probably won a lot more times than you remember. Don't spend your time worrying about what was because it probably wasn't what you think.

Remember the Little League Championship!
Remember the first girl you kissed!
Remember the time you set your hand on a friend's shoulder and made her feel at home!
Remember the time you told your friend to snap out of it... and he did!

Forget about that time you took a header in the street after drinking too much Yager... There are no lessons to be learned there....and it happens to the best of us.....!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, June 19, 2015

Dispelling The Myth

"Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary" - Steve Jobs

What we seemed to have overlooked in the study of motivation is that which guides us is far more controlled by the heart than the mind. We can rationalize all day with statistics but numbers never tell the whole story. We live in a Big Data age that presents us all the validation we need to make logical choices with systematic application. That's the safe way to do it and the quickest way to be like everyone else.

There are two people in this world:
1. Those who follow process to the letter of the law.
2. Those who oppose authority with vitriol.

The answer to our motivation conundrum lies in-between.

Safety Motivated by Fear
Middle management remains the greatest stop gap to progress in most organizations. Managers are taught to "manage the process" instead of "encourage the heart". Managers are trained to ask open ended questions to their non-suspecting audience. When the answer to said question is not readily available, the manager pseudo-validates his/her position. The system is in place, the results are proven and the methods are not the be questioned.

So is laid a dependable road to mediocrity. Safe and unchanged.      

The great Brian Wilson is one of music's great misunderstandings. His brilliance was progressive to the point of being dismissed as weird. Where most would fear the failure of losing public admiration, Brian Wilson risked everything he had worked for to recreate the way music is made. It nearly cost him his sanity.

Would your employees to risk everything to keep your company evolving? Would you be willing to be perceived as weird, unpopular or insane to provoke the emotion of your workforce?

No one ever gained the admiration of their public by doing the safe thing. There are those who have lost their career in presenting a dream without focus.

Again, the answer to our motivation conundrum lies in-between.

Never has the work world seen so much opportunity to evolve nor has there been so many facades.

So, how do you prove you mean it?

I've always found it easy to discover a fraud.

Here are a few pointers:
- People who present perfect ideas but cannot expound upon them.
- People who do not follow up.
- People who present courage behind the curtain but switch their story on stage.

Pulling the Heart Strings
Think of the people who have genuinely inspired you. Coaches, Teachers, Bosses... what common characteristics do they share? Maybe none. But I bet each has an ability to remind you of your greatness. They can provoke your emotion by denouncing your doubt. It is certain that uncertainty creates stress. We worry about that which is undetermined. In these times, we don't need to hear about a 5 point plan or to review our pipeline, we need a hand on our shoulder.

Managers fail to become leaders because they fail to encourage the heart. The inability to be human enough to put formality aside is what prohibits trust. Leaders will admit they are fallible, they will listen more than they talk, they will close the lap top and give you a hug.

We all have the ability to believe. We just need someone to tell us it's OK to believe.

Numbers lie and certainty never created anything inspiring. The seeds in your pocket can be the bean stock that catapults us into the future.

You are only afraid because you've been discouraged. Be encouraged and seek those who fuel your less-than-predictable individuality. It is the only way to achieve the impossible.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How I Got to #SHRM15

The first five Society of Human Resource Management Annual Conferences that I attended found me at a booth in the Exhibitor Hall. It is a labor of love. You stand on your feet for 12 hours conducting conversations with people who may or may not be your ideal customer. The Exhibitor Hall is talked about in jest as swagville; the hard working sales people projected as unwilling to relinquish the sacred stuffed cows to non-customers. The Exhibitor Hall also presents an extraordinary opportunity to meet new companies and understand their product offerings. With the right research, and a focused navigation strategy, you can use 4 days on the floor to align yourself with companies that will revolutionize your HR strategy.

For those of you standing in the Exhibitor Hall under the booth lights in uncomfortable shirts, I know your pain! I can assure you, the investment will pay off!

At a certain point, I was afforded a break from our booth and I borrowed our CEO's badge to sit in on a session. The vibe was totally different. A cute little lady sat next to me and actually engaged me in conversation. I was behind enemy lines and it was glorious. I tapped into the mindset of my target market in the session and followed remote interaction on the topic via Twitter. My life was changed.

As salespeople, we mature by fine-tuning our craft. Once I sat in my customer's chair, my connection to them was revitalized. The SHRM Annual Conference has always been all about connecting.

At a SHRM conference in San Diego years ago I met a ton of people who further inspired me. They were covering the conference via social media. These people were a collection of writers, HR Pros, and consultants... and they were all Punk Rock! I was again shrouded in glory.

Having now attended the last several SHRM annual conferences as a member of the aforementioned Blog Squad, I have seen this conference from every angle. The greatest lesson I have learned is that among the 30,000 people rummaging through the world's largest conference halls there are a diversity of avenues through which to be inspired.

I don't believe there is a more important organizational function than that of Human Resources. The HR profession has a variety of sub-functions: Tech, Policy, Training, Hiring, Performance Management, Employee Engagement, Succession Planning.... It's all on display at the SHRM Annual Conference and it is yours to behold.

You can use your time at the conference to gain credits and collect stuffed cows or you can use the experience to change your life..... It worked for me!

Dave Kovacovich

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Haters Love The Sidelines

I've been a youth sports coach for several years. I've coached a number of successful teams: sometimes we win sometimes we lose. Wavering focus and the direction in which the ball bounces are unpredictable. What is always predictable is that the sidelines/bleachers will be filled with people who have not volunteered their time to help but are full of opinions as to how to manage the game. The easiest thing to do is to never devote yourself to anything but pretend you know everything. Why commit yourself to trying and failing if in your single opinion world you can be judge and jury...? With the shame of inability comes the opportunity to criticize others.... because they will never witness your incapability.

There is nothing we take more pride in than our children so seeing them fail is one of life's great pains. You can hug your children and thank them for trying or condemn their imperfection... Those who disguise their imperfection by expecting their children to be perfect face only one conclusion:

Sooner or later they will see through you and no longer respect you. 

What an infinitely sad concept to tackle.

The Responsibility of Leadership
There is no greater privilege than to be given the ability to lead others. The privilege of leadership is abused more often than honored. We assume it our right to denigrate those of lesser titles. We build a hierarchy in our mind and treat people according to their rank. We kiss the ass of those less inventive and destroy the ideas of the more-ambitious.

Leading people is a function of servitude.   

The Truth About What Matters
If you look back upon that meeting in which you blew your cool, the time you yelled at your child or the indignity you showed a laborer; you will discover a consistency:

You lost your judgement because you forgot what really matters. 

Every person has two things:
1. Undeniable Core Beliefs
2. An Ego

The reactionary aspect of Human Nature will get the best of you from time to time and you will stray from your core beliefs. You may embarrass yourself, lie, cheat and/or steal.

The good news is that you can always make up for your reactions by being a person of action. When you unfold your arms and get in the game, your actions speak louder than your words.

Skill vs Interest   
You can want with all your might to be a rock star but if you cannot play guitar, you'll need to learn how. Wanting isn't nearly enough. There are things on this earth we simply were not meant to do. In contrast, just because you are good at something doesn't mean you have to dedicate your life to it.

I've seen people who were trained their whole lives to be athletes only to learn that they hated sports. It wasn't their choice to be great, their heart was not connected to their effort.

Our life is a pursuit of happiness. We cannot convince ourselves that we are fulfilled simply because we are serving a lot in life that someone else has assigned to us.

It's never too late to leave the sidelines and get into the game!

Don't Forget to Remember,


Thursday, May 28, 2015

David & Goliath

"David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword"
- 1 Samuel 17

The opposition to bullying has been given appropriate attention in the modern age. When I was a youth, bullying took the characterization of a larger person physically confronting a smaller person. Times have changed. 

Today, bullies take many shapes and forms: The boss who micro-manages his employees to the point of self-hatred, the HR lady who passive aggressively drives innocent employees out of organizations, the father who uses his children to fuel his empty ego, the straight A student who uses her intellect to dwarf the intelligence of others. 

The wonderful thing about those who use false pretense as a means of authority is that their power is baseless. 

I've never been the largest person on a team (usually the smallest), the smartest person in the room or the man with the most money. I take pride in that. I would venture to guess my namesake has given me the Underdog Mentality from the day I was born. I've learned through experience that the bully always ends up on the ground. 

If that which motivates you is fueled by anger, revenge and/or a need to fix something from your irreversible past; you are on the wrong track. Decisions fueled by negativity only make bad things worse. Your anger backs up on you if you fail to address it, it multiplies if you use it against others. Passive aggression is a form of bullying, using a title as a positioning tactic is a form of bullying, using your intelligence to embarrass others is also a bullying tactic. You can be the smallest person in the room and still be a bully. If all you have is your hatred, you need to check yourself!

Each day is a battle... a competition... a great strife. It takes courage to take on each day. You must ignore negativity. The bully will always catch you off guard, they may embarrass you, but soon enough you will stand over them.  

We often assess that which we are pursuing to understand if it is worth the effort. Indeed, it is meaningless to chase something that has no significant end-game. We do, however, need to investigate each day with the curiosity of a child and the willingness to learn from our mistakes. Otherwise, what are we fighting for...?

"There is Winning and There is Misery" - Pat Riley

What is your ambition? 

I'm not talking about your occupation or even your motivation. We all face the mirror each morning, we all lace up our shoes and find a way to make it work.

Beyond That....

If you work each day simply to avoid making mistakes, you are wasting your precious time. If you play the game simply for the relief of not losing, the pursuit is joyless.

What do you want to do with all of your heart and soul? How would you develop the courage to behead the bully?

The thing that separates bullies from those who slay them is strength of ambition. If you want it bad enough, are willing to put the work in and challenge yourself to think differently.... you can achieve anything! 

Bullies are always complacent. They gave up caring a long time ago and use each day as a temporary transition to get to their next altercation. Sooner or later, complacency gives way to complete and total demoralization and the giant is cast out into the forest alone, with no ability to recreate the temporary power he had but did not earn.

Your greatest courage comes from your genuine intent. Your ambition is driven by that which really matters to you. If you know what you are fighting for, you can slay any giant!

Slaying the giant is the easy part. Discovering your purpose....? That may take a lifetime. It's never too late!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, May 22, 2015


"My hands miss you, my arms miss you...the stars sing I've got their song in my head" - John Roderick 

This is a glorious time of year. Winter's slumber has awaken to sunshine, the kids are out in the field and some will have their last glimpse of innocence.

I remember the day I graduated High School. I was two towns over at my girl friend's house (the rough side of town) attending a keg party. My friend and I darted home to put on our caps and gowns. I stumbled through the door (high as a kite) into a room full of relatives, friends and neighbors... all there to celebrate my life's transition from boyhood to manhood. They applauded thunderously, aware of my altered state of mind and seemingly OK with it. I had both feet out the door.

I love hearing commencement speeches. The optimism people are able to impart upon those less experienced as they turn the page unto another chapter in their lives. What a privilege to advise others based on your experience (good or bad). Just for a moment, on that day in the sunshine on the football field, I felt an enormous pride in what I had achieved and I was excited about the boundless possibility ahead.

I spent the summer between college and high school working construction to ensure I had plenty of money for beer and weed. I attended concerts, kissed girls, enjoyed real-life conversations with my friends and said good bye to Mother Michigan. It was truly a wonderful time.

Before you flip your tassel consider this....

I can tell you that my best friends from grade school are still great friends. We talk seldom and pick up the conversation where we left off. You will meet people who require too much of your energy or who suck your resources without reciprocation. It's important to recognize the difference between real friends and passengers.

In this life you will experience one true love. If you haven't found it, wait until you do. You'll never forgive yourself for letting go of the person this world has created for you. You'll break a hundred hearts making up for it. Between then and now, you will experience love from a few others... it is fleeting and while you think your life may end without them... you will survive! Years from now, you may see their picture on Facebook and wonder why in the world you thought you loved them.

You will meet people who refuse not to be your friend. That person who sticks with you when are being an asshole, gets you home safe when you drink too much and who feed your narcissism to make you feel better. These, too, are true friends!

There is nothing more important in this world than great teachers and great bosses. You will know when you sit in a classroom with that teacher who makes you shake your head in wonderment of how they understand you so well. You'll count on one hand the bosses who make you feel safe, trusted and empowered simply by resting a hand on your shoulder.

The things that keep you up at night will fuel your success. These are also things that are not worth worrying about.

"To find someone you love, you've gotta be someone you love" - Nada Surf

If Jesus came back upon the earth today people would outcast him as a dirty hippy. If Steve Jobs sat next to you in a bar, you would move down a stool due to his odor. If Albert Einstein presented at your company conference you would laugh him off the stage.

If you have reservations about the judgement of others, you will achieve nothing. You will always be judged until you prove your worth... 90% of that battle is simply getting up the courage to get on stage.

Missing people is the sign of a good heart. Worrying about failure is an inability to accept it.

You can assure yourself that everything will be OK. And maybe everything won't be OK, but the sentiment is what matters.

Take advice with a grain of salt but accept nothing as an undeniable truth.

Be humble in victory and accountable in defeat.

If you notice a girl has a new hair style... compliment her, compliment her shoes too!

... and call your parents, friends, and siblings on their birthday... call them!

Don't Forget to Remember!