The Journey to #SHRM18: Unlearn What You Have Learned


In just a few short days, many of us will have the opportunity to attend the 2018 Annual SHRM Conference and Exposition to gain new insights and wisdom, while creating unforgettable memories and everlasting friendships. It seems there are so many conferences from different organizations competing for our travel dollars lately; I can tell you that #SHRM18 promises to be an event worthy of both your time and investment. From Chicago, we’ll all have the chance to truly expand our world.

In my initial post as a member of the #SHRM18 Blog Squad, I wrote how this year’s event feels different. That is because change is truly on the horizon for HR. A quick Google search yields many articles detailing the disdain many employees still have for the HR function, due to the failings and inadequacies they’ve experienced in working with their HR department. I know this to be true; when modern HR is designed and used as a corporate function, focused on company priorities above all else, the results can be devastating for employees. When I read these stories, it pains me on several levels. One, it’s terrible that far too many people have had to experience the destructive results when bad HR, aligned with poor leadership, creates a horrid employee experience. Secondly, I know there are so many dedicated HR professionals that view our field as so much more than a corporate function; they view it as a chance to serve others, and to help change lives for the better. They’re passionate about changing work, and about revolutionizing our field. The negative depiction of modern HR is certainly not representative of so many good and kind HR professionals.

Now, more than ever, it’s vital for all of us that are dedicated to making work better for people across the globe to make our voices heard. It’s also our time to push ourselves to rethink the purpose of HR, and to see how we can break through the traditional limitations and constraints of our field. Is it time for a fundamental reshaping of the modern HR function? In my opinion, the answer is yes. In essence, this calls for us to unlearn what we have learned (to borrow a phrase from a very wise, and green, Jedi Master) about HR. This moment calls for us to free ourselves from the old constraints of what HR is, and look to what it can be in the future. Here is another fundamental truth; so many HR professionals are already investing their time and energy towards enacting sustainable change for the better. They’re doing the work right now. I have no doubt that many of the people that will be at #SHRM18 will be the ones that ultimately are the spark for moving HR forward in new and exciting directions.



There a few ways all of us can be part of this change during our time together in Chicago:


Social media can be such a powerful ally in building genuine connections with fellow HR professionals. But the greatest relationships have always been built in person. Chicago will be the perfect place to network with people from diverse backgrounds, each with their own insights and wisdom to share. I’m an introvert, and networking hasn’t always come naturally to me. The best advice I can give is to rid yourself of the confines of your comfort zone and set out to be the first to offer an introduction. Some of the greatest breakthroughs I’ve ever experienced personally and professionally have come from the relationships in my life, and by learning from the wisdom of others. Keeping to ourselves limits our potential for growth. I also encourage you to listen to the opinions of others, even when they may conflict with your own ideas and beliefs, to see if there’s a chance to expand your world and your viewpoint. Remember, unlearn what you have learned and be open to the possibilities beyond what you already know.


There are so many incredible business leaders that will be offering their own thoughts and ideas on how we can all grow personally and professionally, and how we can move our field forward. I’ve had the good fortune to interview three business leaders that will all be delivering uplifting and inspirational messages during their sessions, as well as actionable strategies. My fellow #SHRM18 Blog Squad members have had that same opportunity. I encourage you to read all of our interviews with these business leaders on the SHRM Blog before the event. When selecting sessions to attend, seek out those that offer material you may be unfamiliar with, and where you have the greatest opportunity for growth. These are the sessions that will provide each of us with the greatest potential to be part of the movement for change. I also encourage you to be intentional about sitting with people you may not know, to grow your network.


Great intentions alone do not amount to sustainable change. After #SHRM18 ends, we’ll all return to familiar surroundings, but we’ll also return with newfound wisdom and strategies to enact positive change within the workplaces we’re part of. When you return home, don’t limit yourself to the traditional constraints of modern HR. Seek out intentional ways to serve others well, and to change their lives for the better. Ask yourself what part you’ll have in revolutionizing the HR field, and to a greater extent, how you’ll be part of revolutionizing how work is done. Small steps can be powerful during the journey to momentous results. You can also reach out to your newfound network of friends and partners to discuss what’s working within each of their respective organizations, and exchange new ideas on how to break through the old limitations of HR.

And always remember, anyone that works in HR is already a business leader. And leaders exist to help others become better, and leaders are always willing to move beyond the boundaries of what’s possible. The same can be said for everyone involved in the HR field.

See you soon in Chicago.

This post originally appeared on the Create: Life and Leadership by Design blog.


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