#SHRM16 – Relevant for Even the Smallest of Businesses

Since officially starting my business in 2011, I set out to be a voice for small business HR. When I say small business HR, I’m not necessarily talking about HR Departments of One. I do include them in this group; but, primarily, I’m focusing even smaller, as in 125 employees or less. Often these businesses do not have one dedicated HR person. They have an Office Manager or CFO handling their HR along with many other tasks. Coming to a conference such as the annual SHRM conference would never be on their radar, or in their budget.

For the last few years I have struggled to write articles from the SHRM conference for these businesses. I wanted to share things from the conference that would help those individuals, my main audience, but struggled to find content they could implement easily. The talk was so often at a high level or designed for big business. Even the HR Department of One focus was designed for dedicated HR practitioners, not those with little knowledge of HR.

At a keynote level, I have always found it difficult to apply the lessons from the talk, sometimes even for larger businesses. They tend to be inspirational in nature or high level, but hard to really walk away with actionable steps.

Until this year.

As of the writing of this post, we have had two general sessions. The first was the duo of Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford and Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs. They both spoke independently and then did a short Q&A together. The second was Amy Cuddy, social psychologist, Harvard professor and highly popular TED speaker. Both sessions of speakers were excellent and what’s more, I was able to pull a few nuggets from each that I feel can appeal to businesses of any size.

One of the best things Alan said, in my perspective, was around having highly skilled teams. Alan stressed several times how important it is to include everyone and update everyone. Everyone. In my work with small businesses, what I’ve learned is that even in tiny teams, people are left out. They aren’t told what the vision is. The strategy isn’t shared with them. They are expected to do their portion of the work without question. Yet, if they don’t understand the mission, their piece of the work is meaningless to them. And, people want to work on things that mean something.

Mike, possibly one of the funniest speakers I’ve ever heard, shared a lot of great content; but the thing he said that stood out the most is that sometimes all we really need to do is shut up and let the experts around us talk. And, that can be so difficult to do.

For those small business leaders or CEOs working on a startup, shutting up and listening to others around you when that vision was yours, when that idea that birthed this business is the thing that kept you up at night, when that mortgage that was leveraged to pay for employees before funding came through was yours, is very difficult to do.

But it’s so necessary.

Finally, today, Amy Cuddy spoke with a very informative and longer version of her famous TED talk, which is the 2nd most viewed talk of all times. Amy taught us all about power poses and how that improves our confidence. Part of her session that I found so interesting was while she was talking about power. She said:

We base how powerful or powerless we feel based on who we are comparing ourselves to. She used the image of Olympic silver medalist to prove this point. The gold medalist is of course elated. The bronze is happy to be on stage and be one of the three out of hundreds that placed. The silver, however, is focused on that one person that beat them. The one person who kept them out of the gold spot. Their body language is often not one of elation, but disappointment.

I know that small business leaders often compare their business to others, and it’s very interesting to think about how those comparisons can make leaders feel more powerful or less in their own business.

All points applicable to any size business. Intriguing thoughts for all leaders. Inclusion, listening and power. All meaningful ingredients for any growing company. More to come on these individual ideas over the coming weeks. But, I wanted to share the highlights so far, as I’m thrilled that the topics, so far, have been applicable to businesses of any size.

SHRM is proving it is trying harder every year to listen to the audience. The entire audience, even those in a startup or the smallest of businesses. And I know for this consultant and her readers, that is a very good thing.


Originally posted on Acacia HR Solutions blog.




For more information and to attend SHRM 2016 Annual Conference & Exposition, visit www.annual.shrm.org.



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