A #SHRM18 Interview with Joe Rotella


Joe Rotella has been a SHRM Annual Conference mainstay for a number of years.  He is a warm and engaging speaker who never fails to both inform and entertain.  While his previous sessions have focused on HR technology, this year he is helping HR professionals become better business partners.  He shares his insights and more below.

How To Be A Better Business Partner
Monday, 6/18/18, 4-5:15PM

  1. As a frequent SHRM Annual Conference presenter, what keeps you coming back?

    As someone who works in the HR industry and is a certified HR professional, I wouldn’t miss SHRM Annual Conference – presenting or not! I learn from the sessions I attend and from the sessions I present. I meet and network with other industry professionals. I see the latest products and services on the exhibit floor. I get to step out of my every day work environment to focus on my skills, and I have fun!

  2. You will be speaking on "How to Be a Better Business Partner" on Monday, June 18.  What are the most common mistakes business partners make when first placed in the role?  What are opportunities that are not often seized?

    I meet so many HR professionals that present themselves just like that – as HR professionals. That’s ok. But I think so many have much more to offer their organization. If they can transform their thinking, they can show they are really business professionals with expertise in HR. To do that, they have to learn to think like a business leader: lose the ego, be curious, learn to look for the root cause of a problem, look for evidence to support your ideas, and then present your solutions as a business case. This is the thinking you’ll see in the most effective board rooms, but isn’t really something I see “HR Professionals” learning about.

    Opportunities are missed when ego blocks new ideas from surfacing, when symptoms are addressed rather than the root cause, or when great ideas get overlooked because there’s a lack of evidence to support an investment of resources.

  3. Do you have an example of a successful business partner?  What makes him or her successful?

    I’m proud to say that the majority of the clients who work with Delphia Consulting demonstrate great business partner skills, partly because of our process. Our team is trained to work collaboratively with clients to understand their needs – the pains they are training to solve or the gains they want to achieve. We focus on the end goal and make sure we get to the root cause of any problems they are trying to fix. We document evidence to support our recommendations. Our goal is to help the client present proposed solutions with demonstrable returns to decision makers. That process and the resulting business case is a key part of being a better business professional.

  4. People may not know that you are heavily into crafting and crafting technology.  Do you see parallels between crafting technology and HR technology (a frequent topic of yours as a SHRM speaker)?

    Many people are surprised to see I wear two hats: an officer of a software consulting company and a professional crafter. I love both hats. Both hats let me be creative and hone my business skills in different ways. When I’m preparing to teach crafty classes or film segments for the PBS TV show “Make It Artsy,” I need to think about the potential market size, where I’ll get the best return on my investment of limited resources (like time!), what I should do (not just what I could do), and where I’ll have the greatest impact. These are the same things I think about in my 9-5 job all the time!

  5. Do you have a favorite HR horror story?

    Just about every week I hear some sort of HR horror story. So many I’ve even thought of starting a blog focused on that topic! Most recently it was about an organization that was piecing together HR software solutions – like HRIS, payroll, performance management, recruiting – without first creating a long-term strategy. The result could be systems that don’t work together or have ways to share information. That means manual processes to get information from point A to B. It’s likely they’re increasing the amount of paper that HR will have to push and are introducing more places where errors could be made. Systems will be out of sync. And, perhaps worse, the organization may even go down the path of trying to write custom software, in-house, to connect the pieces and parts. In the long run, that’s expensive to maintain. If they started with a strategic vision and filled in the pieces slowly, over time, they would be more likely to achieve their long term goals and create an infrastructure that supports what they want to accomplish.

  6. Any advice for first-time SHRM Annual Conference attendees?

    SHRM Annual Conference is the largest and best HR conference in the world! For the uninitiated it can be pretty overwhelming, so here are some of my tips for getting the most out of your conference experience:

    • Plan your schedule in advance. Pack it with what you really want to do, but be sure to include breaks too. Of course, you’ll want to make sure my session Monday is on your schedule!
    • Wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll likely be doing a lot of walking.
    • Consider bringing what keeps you healthy, like high-protein snacks and water.
    • Keep a small bottle of hand-sanitizer with you and use it often.
    • Battery packs for your electronics are always a good idea to have when you travel.
    • The exhibit hall is huge! Plan what booths or aisles you want to visit and try to stick to your plan. Don’t get distracted by all the giveaways and gimmicks. If you’re there to research possible solutions, get that work done first before you go exploring at random.
    • Take lots of business cards with you and be prepared to network.
    • Load the SHRM app on your phone and use it.
    • Load the LinkedIn app on your phone and send invitations to connect during down times, like when you’re waiting for a session to start.
    • Be patient, try to meet new people, learn and have fun!
  7. What are you looking forward to in Chicago?
    The best part of SHRM Annual Conference for me is seeing familiar faces that I may get to see only once a year. I also love talking with HR folks, my peeps, about their successes, challenges, plans – you name it! It’s like a family reunion (with a HUGE family and no worries about the food spoiling in the heat LOL). Chicago is the icing on the cake! Easy to get around thanks to great public transportation, great sights to see, shopping, and deep dish pizza!  

Joe’s session, “How To Be A Better Business Partner” will be on Monday, 6/18/18, from 4:00-5:15PM (https://annual.shrm.org/sessionplanner/session/22465/how-be-better-business-partner).  You can follow Joe on Twitter at @joerotella.


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: