A #SHRM21 Interview with Jennifer Currence, a Champion for the HRDOO

Jennifer Currence, MBA, SHRM-SCP, PCC is the president of WithIN Leadership, which specializes in training and coaching to enhance leadership development and management skills. Jennifer is a certified career coach, a professor of management at the University of Tampa, has been recognized as a Thought Leader by the International Society of Performance Improvement, and was named the Tampa Bay HR Consultant of the Year for 2017. 

In her work with SHRM, Jennifer has been published and featured in HR Magazine as well as featured in Fast Company magazine, HR.com, and BambooHR. She was an editor for SHRM's 2016 Learning System and a writer of exam questions for the SHRM-SCP exam. Add PMQ Jennifer is also a regular speaker at regional, national, and international SHRM events and conferences and is the author of SHRM's business competency book series: Making an Impact in Small Business.

Tell me a little bit about your background and how it led to your decision to champion and support the HR Department of One?

Jennifer: I spent seven years as an HRDOO for small organizations, and although we had less than 50 employees, we still had big company problems and intricate needs. It was one of the greatest growing opportunities in my career. Having spent time as an HRDOO, I lived the truth that the HR department is responsible for so much more than just hiring and firing, and the solo HR practitioner is often pulled in so many directions that it's hard to keep up with changing priorities in the profession. As a generalist, I have a love and knowledge for all things HR, and I also wanted to help business owners and other HRDOOs find the answers to their problems. So I started my own company that provides training and HR resources to small businesses. I now help others through my strong network. We are there for HRDOOs when they need help, as I know (from experience!) that they often have little or no time to research. HRDOOs need immediate answers so they can attack the next situation on their desk. 

Jennifer is presenting 4 different topics over the course of the conference, which include Business Acumen: A Workshop for HR Departments of One, The Top Five Priorities for an HR Department of One, Coaching Strategies for Leaders (on the SmartStage), and A Smarter Approach to Performance Appraisals

Can you give us some insight on what your upcoming presentations are all about? Where did the inspiration come from and what do you hope people can take out of it?

Jennifer: The Top Five Priorities for an HR Department of One was inspired by fellow SHRM speaker Dick Finnegan, who suggested doing a survey and presenting results. The survey, now in its 5th year, is really interesting as you see both the similarities year over year, as well as the changes. I present the findings with real world situations, and I include the comments (anonymously) in my presentations. Then I present situations and solutions that people can utilize.  Lastly, I take it a step further, and facilitate a discussion of audience members who have experienced the same issues, and how they dealt with them.  This presentation is unique because we crowd source solutions from attendees. It’s interactive, and you walk away with real solutions. This session is scheduled for September 10, 2021, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm. Check out and plan all your concurrent sessions HERE.

Prior to the SHRM 2021 Annual Conference & Exposition, Jennifer polled small-business HR professionals to identify the top issues they're facing in 2021. Attend her session to see how this year’s results compare to last year!

Coaching Strategies for Leaders will be on the SmartStage. As a certified coach, Jennifer shares tools she has learned that can help managers and HR leaders better assist and build relationships within their workplace. This session is scheduled for September10, 2021, 12:30 pm – 12:50 pm.  Check out and plan all your SmartStage sessions HERE.

A Smarter Approach to Performance Appraisals is a panel discussion with Jennifer and fellow SHRM Speakers Bureau member Art Jackson and is moderated by Tony Lee of SHRM. The discussion will center around alternative ways to approach performance reviews. This session is scheduled for September 11, 2021, 3:45 pm – 4:45 pm. 

What’s the best advice you’d give someone starting out as an HRDOO?

Jennifer: Learn the business. You’ve been hired because you know HR, but you’ll make the most impact by knowing the business. The rest will follow.

Given this conference is centered around “Now More Than Ever”, what about that particularly resonates with you?

Jennifer: I believe that HR is in a unique position to truly make an impact in the business. Use your knowledge of best people practices to help consult with senior management to help grow the business. It’s time for HR to flex our influencing muscles. Stop waiting around for approval and go make it happen.

What should people be thinking about before they come to the conference to ensure get the most out it?

Jennifer: Accept the fact you’re going to be overwhelmed. Know you can’t do it all. Enjoy each moment where you are and try to soak as much in as you can.

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