#SHRM18 Interview with Mike Shetterly of Ogletree Deakins



I had the privilege of chatting with Mike Shetterly of Ogletree Deakins law firm, who I have known for over 10 years, about his upcoming two presentations at #SHRM18.

Mike is one of the coolest legal eagles that I know. I asked him to tell me a little bit about himself and to introduce himself to #SHRM18 attendees and the first thing that he said was that he is funny. I had to laugh because as a person who has attended several of his presentations, he is correct. But besides being quite humorous, he has so much knowledge to impart to the HR world from a personal and legal perspective.

Mike told me that he has been giving presentations since 2000 at local and regional HR chapters and state council events. He decided several years ago to differentiate himself as an attorney by honing his public speaking skills. Practice helps to refine the craft of public speaking.

Clikc here for more info on Mike.

You have built quite an expertise on FMLA, so it is not a surprise you speaking on “Managing FMLA Fraud Abuse”.

MS: Yes, I can do this one in my sleep, but I promise to stay awake. I’ve given several similar presentations over the years on this topic, but each time I learn something from the audience questions to improve the content.

FMLA has been my area of focus in employment law since 2000. As an FMLA lawyer representing employers, it is quite easy to become jaded against employees trying to abuse the systems. In my experience I have found most employers just want to do what is right and legal when it comes to FMLA. Unfortunately though, it seems that around 5% of employees are consciously or unconsciously trying to abuse the system.

In discussing why it is so hard to get good advice on FMLA, Mike responded that the law is different from the ones they teach in law school:  “In law school, students learn a common theme about laws – what is the general rule and then what are the exceptions or defenses.  If you attack the FMLA that way, you will get frustrated, because there really aren’t exceptions, and there really aren’t many defenses.  You cannot manage against abuse through exceptions/defenses.”   Guarding against fraud, therefore, requires tactics that are different than the type of advice lawyers are used to giving. 

In his presentation, Mike will discuss his disciplined process of lawful steps to “manage” against FMLA fraud.  If you follow his process, you will grant FMLA to the persons who need it and make it hard for abusers to cheat the system. “That is the balance good employers want.  If you come to the workshop hoping I will teach how to NOT give FMLA, you will come away disappointed.  But if you come with the attitude, ‘I will gladly give FMLA to those in need, but I don’t like being cheated by employees who are abusing it,’ then this will be a fun workshop.” 

You will be giving a smart stage presentation on the “Why” about HR. This is an intriguing title, so give us a little heads up about it.

MS: Learning about the “why” is when HR becomes most fulfilling. If you have followed Ted Talks, there is a famous one from Simon Sinek about finding your “why”. I’ve decided to find this and define it for HR. I don’t want to give too much away, but legal and HR suffer from the same stigma. We don’t produce revenue, so often are considered just overhead.

HR professionals often are easily mired in the “what” and “how” of HR which is considered very transactional. If HR can figure out the “why,” it will align the profession to higher level needs in organizations. The “Why” drives revenue!

There are five pillars that I feel HR must be the experts on to be successful: 1). Recruitment 2). Maximizing Productivity 3). Retention 4). Peaceable Offboarding 5). Cultural Ambassador. HR must be the honeybees of the organization cross-pollinating between organizational departments. HR must be the communicator and glue of the organization.

This will be the first time I am giving this presentation and I am so passionate about it. It is meant to be inspirational. My biggest challenge is boiling it down to 18 minutes. I’ve discovered that it is much harder to give a short presentation versus an hour or so long one. You have to make every word count to have impact. I want it to be entertaining, but for the audience to get something important out of it. This is an exciting challenge.





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