The Risk of Mixing Up Integration and Onboarding



Over my last twenty years in HR, I have seen every variation of a typical onboarding program. Many companies don’t have a formal strategy, others have made substantial steps towards onboarding a new leader. But there’s one element that all the onboarding programs I’ve seen have in common – and it’s that traditional onboarding programs alone are putting your company at risk.

It’s a risk to assume a new leader will naturally assimilate into your company’s cultural, functional, organizational dimensions. A typical onboarding program is a tactical snapshot of what your company is and what your company does but doesn’t cover how to be successful in this new environment.  

Significant resources have been invested to fill an executive role, whether an external hire or internal promotion, and yet the Harvard Business Review article, "Executives Fail to Execute Strategy Because They’re Too Internally Focused" reports that 61 percent of executives are not prepared for their new leadership role and 50-60 percent of executives fail within the first 18 months on the job.

As Marshall Goldsmith states in his well-known leadership book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, even the most experienced executives are entering a completely new political landscape. The success strategies that worked in one organizational environment will not necessarily translate into success in a new one.

In this competitive talent environment, you should be doing everything in your power to protect your Human Capital investment. Leadership integration does just that. It is a strategic and intentional process that positions the new leader for accelerated assimilation by equipping them with an intentional plan for success. This plan of action includes the functional, cultural and organizational leadership imperatives of a new role, or rather all the strategic elements we have assumed onboarding will address.  

New executives are expected to hit the ground running. Without a road map, their chances of finding the shortest and fastest route to success can be like a scavenger hunt. It takes time and resources away from meeting the critical priorities of their new role. Leadership Integration takes the guesswork out by answering questions like what does success look like? What does failure look like? How do I prioritize initiatives and set a strong foundation? How do I establish productive working relationships?

It’s time to be intentional about the way you prepare and support your new leaders. Each consultation I have with a client, I encourage them to ask themselves, “What do we need to provide in terms of resources to ensure new leaders can proactively identify and synchronize their winning strategy with that of the organization?” Leadership Integration is your progressive and comprehensive solution.




Seeing the Bigger Picture on Pay Determinations


When I listen to different views about gender pay discrimination, I often flash back to an informative experience in the early days of my career. A man was brought in to do the job I had just been promoted from – at three times my pay. “That’s not fair,” I thought at the time. My immediate reaction turned out to be wrong, and I learned a valuable lesson about seeing the bigger picture when it comes to pay gaps. It also taught me that addressing pay inequities is more of an art than a science, and “one size fits all” government mandates aren’t the solution. 

It turned out the pay differential I experienced was actually based on the skills and work involved, not gender. While I’d operated the same equipment in my previous position, my replacement was operating, programming, and physically repairing the equipment. I totally got that and went on to move up in that company based on my own professional strengths, far surpassing that gentleman.  

The experience helped me to understand that there is a bigger picture when it comes to salary determinations, and it is often a mistake to assume that gender is driving these decisions. Many other factors contribute to pay differentials. One that rings most true for me is the trade-off for flexibility, as I spent 12 years out of the workforce while raising my children. I understood this decision would have significant ramifications for my career (changing my promotional trajectory), and I worked hard to make up for the gap through my performance after re-entering the workforce. 

Both of these experiences have helped me to see a bigger picture, which has served me well throughout my career. 

This is not to say that pay gaps based on gender do not exist. I understand that these pay gaps exist in some fields and industries, and it is imperative that improper pay disparities be addressed and corrected. But I am not convinced that gender-based gaps are as large or widespread as many contend, and it’s certainly not a problem that government can or should address with formulas and mandates. 

Federal, state and local governments should recognize that employers know their workforces best and should be able to manage them without unnecessary intrusion. When government lets employers use compensation and benefits to compete for talent, good companies get the best employees and, in turn, make the most profit. The need to compete for top talent is by far the strongest incentive for more employers to do the right thing when it comes to pay equity.  

Managing pay is a skill that takes a lot more finesse, thoughtfulness, awareness and judgment than just following a federal guideline. Employees don’t have any trouble understanding the reasoning behind pay differences when they are connected to valid business considerations.

When employers and employees can see the bigger picture, we create better workplaces and a better world, and that’s what we all want.  



#SHRM19 Interview with Brent Shetler of Mindspace


This is an interview with Brent Shetler, Owner & Executive Creative Director at Mindspace. Mindspace will be exhibiting at the 2019 Annual SHRM Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas. Read on to learn more about employee onboarding, training, and the magic of Mindspace.

Who is Mindspace!? Tell us everything, just as you would someone approaching your booth and asking you this question at #SHRM 19 in Las Vegas.

We are Mindspace, the creative learning agency. We turn boring content into interactive learning experiences that engage, inspire and motivate chronically distracted audiences. By bringing together technology, brand design, modern learning methods, and advanced gamification, we can help increase retention and create the behavior change you want so you can get the very best from employees and customers.

I know you have quite a few services, but I want to focus on employee onboarding and training. Where do companies even start when they are looking to develop a formal employee onboarding process? Can you walk us through all the steps you’d recommend for a HR leader to cover when implementing an employee onboarding process? 

It’s all-too-common for HR leaders to be too close to the action, so to speak. When you’re in the weeds of the day-to-day, it’s really challenging to understand the greater needs of your onboarding audience. Remember, new hires know virtually nothing about their new environment. They likely possess lots of desirable skills (you wouldn’t have hired them otherwise), but I think HR leaders often forget to consider how the onboarding environment - the experience - sets the tone for that new hire’s perception of how stable the proverbial ship really is. Onboarding isn’t just a checklist of to-do’s. It’s a first impression. Talk to newly onboarded employees. Hold a focus group. Find out what works and what doesn’t from their perspective. Allow them to inform iterations to your onboarding experience for the next generation of new hires. Iterative and great onboarding should create a little FOMO for those previous generations of new hires.

I love the case study on your site about Starbucks. What are some other companies who have an amazing onboarding experience that can inspire SHRM members?

While I can’t speak to all of the internal workings of our clients’ onboarding, I can tell you that we really enjoyed helping FedEx on an initiative where the importance of living out their brand promise across a global organization was an integral piece of their onboarding. Finding a way to digitally connect new hires with FedEx’s different hubs around the world - allowing them to virtually explore the hub cities and simulate interactions with customers around the world to practice their soft skills was a really unique way of connecting a distributed workforce.

Let us in on the magic. What’s the employee onboarding process like at Mindspace? How do you utilize your own tech and process to retain the best talent?

Mindspace is a different animal. We don’t hire people by extracting data from the pages of a resume, no matter how impressive it is. We look for intangibles that can only be forged through fire. A lot of our team have had some really challenging life or work experiences that have given them a thick skin, and I think we bring that spirit to our onboarding process. It’s hard. Yes, we have tools and processes to help people do their jobs. That’s a given. What we encourage during onboarding is curiosity, self-determination, problem solving, and a sense of wonder. We don’t hold your hand or baby you, and I think it’s important to develop those skills to be not only a better employee, but a better human being.

What do you wish more HR professionals and recruiters knew about employee onboarding?

I wish more HR leaders would be curious about the “what if’s.” There’s a tendency to do what’s been done or just take the easy/safe route when it comes to onboarding. It’s that checklist mentality, and that doesn’t necessarily do your audience any favors. Being more curious about the needs of your customer (the new hire) and asking for the fresh perspective of agencies like ours is a great way to entertain the “what if” question and push onboarding innovation forward.

Your site clearly lists a lot of smart brands. What are the biggest challenges companies face when training employees? How do they overcome those challenges?

Internal buy-in seems to be a tough hurdle to overcome. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been approached by a forward-thinking mid-level manager who has fantastic ideas and vision only to be shot down by someone else within the organization. I don’t know if it’s all politics or someone at a higher level feeling threatened, but the companies that embrace ideation from all levels of the organization tend to be the best. It goes back to what I said about getting input from your new hires. It doesn’t matter what their role is. Their feedback and ideas have value. I’d say listen to them and stop shutting down new ideas because you’re afraid of change.

In the same line of questioning above, I run a marketing company with 10 employees. I consistently hear from our team that we need more training. I’m not sure where to even start. We’ve developed processes for self-learning, with recommended resources. We’ve done lunch n’ learns. External conferences. Where do I start, because I feel like I’m part of the majority of small businesses that just don’t know where to start when implementing a solution for training and onboarding.

This is such a common story and one that is in desperate need of an answer. Let’s face it. It’s expensive to have someone come in and overhaul your onboarding experience. It’s a mixed bag of consulting, creative, design, and implementation and all of those are expensive for a small business. What I’d do first is get all of the existing resources and put them into a simple system or platform that can help you organize a “flow” for onboarding. There are some cost-effective LMS options out there. When you have everything in one place, you can start to ask what’s missing, what’s worth keeping, what needs to change, etc. Building that learning path is huge and it’s repeatable once you get it right. At first, the training materials you build and put into the system may not be very robust or visually amazing, but that’s okay. At least you’ll have a defined path within the system. As you scale, then you can bring on an agency to improve your materials and the experience itself.

For anyone who won’t be able to make it to the Mindspace booth in Las Vegas, what do you want them to know?

First, I’m bummed that we couldn’t connect. Maybe next year? But to answer the question, I think it’s important for anyone in the HR space to know that creative partners like us exist. I think some HR leaders feel like their industry is at the back of the line in terms of innovation, but that’s simply false. Sure, marketing teams often have bigger budgets, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make the most of yours. Not every innovation to your onboarding experience has to cost millions of dollars.

Brett Farmiloe is a member of the #SHRM19 Blogger Team, CEO of a digital marketing company, and likes conducting interviews.



Catching Up with Dan Schawbel Mega-Session Presenter at #SHRM19


I caught up with Dan Schawbel who is an author, speaker, entrepreneur and a great guy this past week. Dan will be presenting at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition (#SHRM19) and he is a can’t miss presenter!

Dan give us a 30 second elevator pitch, tell us who you are, what you do, and/or what we should know about you…

I'm a Partner and Research Director at Future Workplace, an HR advisory and research firm providing insights on the future of learning and working. Over the past seven years, I've led dozens of research studies across every HR-related topic working with companies like Oracle, American Express, Virgin Pulse and Randstad. In addition, over the past decade I have written three career books, including Back to Human, Promote Yourself and Me 2.0, which help professionals at every phase of their career from student to leader. During the same period, I interviewed over 2,000 of the worlds most successful people and have recently started a podcast called 5 Questions with Dan Schawbel, where I ask them five questions in under 10 minutes. I've had a close relationship with SHRM since I started and this is the fifth annual conference I'm speaking at and third "mega session". I've spoken at several local chapters, as well as major companies, conferences and colleges. I consider myself a research sponge, reviewing new research on a daily basis and drawing big conclusions that guide the HR profession. At Future Workplace, we host four events annual so we can provide this research and connect HR leaders together 

You have been involved with the HR community, SHRM, and affiliate organizations for a long time, how did that all start, and what are you doing now in the HR space?

My first job when I graduated school back in 2006 was in product marketing for EMC and then I transitioned to online marketing and ended up creating the first social media position in the company. I become close with Polly Pearson, the former head of Employer Branding at EMC, which was a revolutionary role at the time. Through our collaboration, I saw how social media could be a game changer for HR. I realized that I could either use my marketing and social media skills for marketing and branding or for HR. I chose HR because I was, and still am, obsessed with helping people navigate their own careers and saw social media as an amplified and channel to do that. I differentiated myself in the industry because I had an untraditional background. I wrote a book called Me 2.0, then went on the corporate and conference speaking circuit. From there, I started my own company, then wrote another book called Promote Yourself. Then, I started another company, which was acquired by Future Workplace and wrote another book. I really enjoy being part of the HR community and my hope is to help HR stay relevant as the world continues to change. I see an enormous opportunity to help upskill HR professionals and we have created courses, like AI 4 HR that can be a valuable source.

Tell us about your program at #SHRM19, and what is the one take away you hope every attendee has?

For seven years, I've published an annual list of the top ten workplace trends for the upcoming year. It's a forecast that breaks down the hottest topics impacting HR professions, with primary and secondary data, as well as case studies and examples. For over a decade, I've been both tracking trends on a daily basis, and publishing new research. I've presented these trends in a SHRM mega session the past three years. Some of the standout trends for 2019 include the co-existence of workers and robots, the flexible workweek, the lonely workplace and open offices. There's literally so much change happening that it takes me a year of analysis to figure out what's going to make the biggest impact in the industry. I'm looking forward to presenting yet again!

You have been writing and published as well as an early player in the HR Social Media space….give the readers a soundbite and what your next project is going to be about or where you see HR and social media going in the future.

There will always be new social media platforms so we will have to adapt to where the engagement and opportunities are. For instance, I use Instagram much more than I use Facebook because the engagement is extremely high so I can justify my effort. While I think social media, and new technologies, will continue to shape HR (and all professions and jobs), our biggest differentiator in the future is our soft skills. While my first book, Me 2.0, was a guidebook on building a personal brand on social media, my new book, Back to Human, explains that technology has created the illusion of connection, when what we really want is meaningful and quality relationships at work and at home. I see social media as a path to the real world, but worry that many of us let it get in the way of the very relationships we need to be successful and fulfilled.

Do you have a favorite program or speaker from the national conference over the years (elaborate on who and why they were your favorite)?

My favorite SHRM keynote speaker over the years is Mike Rowe from 2016 in Washington DC. I loved hearing some of his stories from the many jobs he did while he was filming his Discovery Channel show. As someone who has studied mostly white-collar workers, it was very interesting to hear stories about his experience with blue-collar workers. His mission is so relevant in today's world where people aren't enrolling in the trades anymore and more companies are hiring workers without a 4-year degree.

How can someone get in touch with you or follow you on social media?

You can see all of my content, including research studies, articles and podcasts on my website. While I'm on all the social networks, I'm most active on Instagram. If you want to listen to my talk at this years SHRM Annual Conference, please stop by on June 25 at 2 p.m. for my Mega Session: The Top 10 Workplace Trends For 2019. I look forward to continuing the conversation and meeting you in-person soon!


Thanks Dan!



#SHRM19 Speaker Spotlight: Q&A with Tracie Sponenberg


 How to Transform Your HR Department Through Technology, even if Your HR Department is Just You


HR community, meet Tracie Sponenberg! I’m excited to see Tracie speak at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition this year in Las Vegas. I interviewed Tracie because she and I share an appreciation for helping small businesses meet their strategic HR goals. In my current role, I’ve implemented HR technology, something that was new to me in my career. When I saw Tracie’s topic for #SHRM19, I just knew that I wanted to interview her. Because her insights are so valuable! Heading into #SHRM19, there are so many amazing speakers, and they are just one of the many reasons why you should attend #SHRM19. Check out Tracie’s session on Monday, June 24, 2019 at 3 p.m.

Tracie Sponenberg, SHRM-SCP, SPHR is the SVP, HR for The Granite Group, a wholesale distributor based in NH. Responsible for leading all HR functions for nearly 40 locations and over 500 employees, she has gained a broad HR background across several industries in more than 20 years in HR, focusing on working with CEOs to develop strategic people strategies to foster growth. Tracie has a BA in Psychology from Holy Cross, and a MA in Human Resources from FSU. She is co-founder of DisruptHR-NH and HR Rebooted; a member of SHRM’s Special Expertise Panel; and teaches a SHRM Certification course.

Michelle: As a member of the Special Expertise Panel for HR Disciplines, how can SHRM members who want to do more with volunteering, get more involved with SHRM? How has being on the Special Expertise Panel helped you in your career?

Tracie: I was a SHRM member for just a few years before getting involved in the local level early in my career. That’s a great place to start for SHRM members wanting to get involved in volunteering. Most local chapters are searching for volunteers regularly, and it’s a terrific way to network in your local community. When I joined SHRM, I was new to the community and in my first HR leadership role, and met so many terrific friends and mentors. I eventually became President of that chapter, and that gave me some great foundational SHRM leadership experience. Life got in the way for many years, and I’ve only found my way back to volunteering in recent years, this time at the national level.

I’ve written a bit about my re-evaluation of my life and career, and at that time, I started doing things that stretched me out of my comfort zone. After realizing that my years of experience and my time mentoring others meant I had something to share, I decided to apply to the SHRM Special Expertise Panel and I was very excited to be asked to join! Panel members serve an important role within SHRM, including advising on emerging trends, reviewing SHRM materials and giving expert advice and guidance, including to the media.

I’ve done a number of media interviews during my first year on the panel. My first interview was actually with NPR! Though it was scary at first, I got the hang of it pretty quickly (spending a number of years at newspaper helped), and learned to enjoy serving as an “expert.” It’s helped my career immensely. When speaking to the media, I always do research first, and that helps me stay on top of current business issues. It also helps to get my company’s name out there - we had not been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, on NPR or in US News and World Report before!

Michelle: Technology can be intimidating, even for the largest of HR departments, why do you think some HR professionals are reluctant to taking on HR technology for their departments – especially for the smaller departments (when they are already stretched thin)?

Tracie: This is a really broad generalization, but most of us get into HR for the people - not the technology. Many of us, including me, don’t have an educational or work experience background in STEM. And, things that are unfamiliar can be scary and humans - and despite our bad rep sometimes, HR professionals are humans - don’t like change in general. Plus, a technology change can be really daunting and extremely time consuming.

With most HR professionals overloaded with their day to day work, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel - but necessary because ironically, spending the time on the new tech implementation can help significantly with the work overload.

Michelle: What advice do you have for those who are implementing technology, specifically to keeping the HUMAN part in the equation?

Tracie: Always have a business reason to solve the problem, and don’t fall victim to the “bright shiny object” syndrome. I love new tech, and love to look at new solutions. So I have to always pause and ask “why?” New technology should solve a business problem, always. And it should be used to alleviate the problem of day to day tactical work, so we can focus on the human part - talking to our team members, working on strategy, solving business problems.

Michelle: Finally, what do you hope HR professionals will take away from your session that will have them go from running away from technology to embracing it?

Tracie: This session is going to be a really practical approach to embracing technology. It’s not for people from a large company with a huge amount of resources. It’s for those of us working in small to medium sized companies, who wear a lot of hats and are in the trenches every day and think that they will never get out of the weeds.  I am not a tech expert - but I’ve learned a lot and I’m excited to share the experience at SHRM. I hope that those attending will learn that a tech overhaul is possible, even with a small or nonexistent team, and even with limited resources.

I’ll share our story at The Granite Group, and share how to dig into existing contracts to redirect resources; how to leverage a broker relationship; how to source and select potential vendors and how to convince the C-suite that new technology is necessary. This isn’t a typical sourcing and selecting tech session. Contrary to a lot of popular advice, we did not use RFPs, and did not follow a technical process roadmap. This is truly an in-the-trenches, not much time or money approach to a technical transformation of your HR department.


Connect with Tracie before the #SHRM19 conference and beyond the conference:




I hope to see you at #SHRM19!



The ROI of Compassion #SHRM19


As HR professionals we often speak about the importance of being “human”, dare I say “humane” to one another? This said, these conversations regarding so called soft skills are often the elephant in the room. How can our profession be taken seriously if we advocate for kindness, which is often considered to be a “nice to have” competency that doesn’t really add to the bottom-line? I’ve often shared (in dialogue, in blog posts, and in the classroom) that without these considerations HR professionals cannot be effective and the lack of attention to the way we work with, and treat others, will ultimately be our (and our organizations’) downfall.

My interest was therefore peaked when I saw that Lisa Murfield would be speaking at the SHRM 19 Annual Conference and Exposition (a concurrent session presentation as well as on the SMART Stage) about the ROI of Compassion. After having had the opportunity to interview Lisa I am even more impressed by her courage, vulnerability in sharing her journey to/with this topic, and her commitment to sharing her learning with others.

The following are the highlights of my conversation with Lisa:

Q: Your concurrent session and your SMART Stage presentation both refer to “compassion”. How do you define compassion? Why is it important for HR professionals to think about compassion and how to integrate this into our work?

A: We define compassion as “coming alongside another to help alleviate their pain.” Compassion is noticing the pain, feeling for them, thinking how to best alleviate that pain, and then taking the necessary actions at the appropriate time. Alleviating pain is at the core of everything we do as HR professionals. Everyone has pain whether it is in a normal workday or especially in times of trauma. How we as HR professionals respond to their pain makes the difference between engaged and disengaged employees. How we treat employees in times of trauma sends the signal to every employee about how much we care or do not care for them.

Q: Why are companies hesitant to address softer skills and “softer subjects” like compassion in the workplace?

A: Too many leaders have seen compassion as an unnecessary expense when it is actually the best business model, strategy and practice. Organizations invite lower performance, production and profits by ignoring or not noticing employee pain, inside and outside the workplace. But when we care enough to make a difference in alleviating their suffering, those “soft” skills become the “power” skills needed to boost the bottom line. The ROI of Compassion is found in reducing turnover, engaging employees, and reducing absenteeism, to name a few. When we care, we leverage leadership power that fuels great success. When we do not care, we invite obstacles and failure.

Q: Why are you interested in this topic and what are your specific experiences that have developed your expertise in this arena?

A: In July of 2007, my husband and I received one of those calls you never want. It was early Saturday morning when we learned that my stepson (my husband’s 22 year old youngest son) committed suicide the night before. Life stopped. Work didn’t matter. We caught the earliest flight to Nebraska and began muddling our way through arrangements. On Monday, we stopped into his workplace. Cabela’s HR Department and managers showed us and their employees tremendous compassion not only that day but the days leading up to the funeral and even months later. Meanwhile, my employer at the time had decided to lay me off. The Director of HR let it slip that she almost called me the day of the funeral to give me my notice wanting to give me enough time to find a job. She believed she was being thoughtful waiting a week. It could have waited a month, but they decided to move forward at the height of my pain. Those good and bad experiences made us wonder how other companies reacted to employee trauma outside of the workplace and what difference that made to the company bottom line. We researched and developed that into two books, The ROI of Compassion (first published in 2010 and revised in 2018) and Leading with the Power of Compassion which will be released at the SHRM conference this year. That experience and research has reaffirmed to me that everything we do as HR professionals is about alleviating current pain or avoiding future pain.

Q: What are the top three learning points that people can expect to take away after hearing you speak?

A: 1. They will be introduced to a way to assess the current and future impact of employee trauma. 2. They will be able to identify the three types of compassion and understand how each type works to minimize the effects of trauma, proactively and reactively. 3. They will have the tools to create effective policies, procedures & practices to increase the ROI in their organizations.

Q: Anything else to add?

A: I am on a mission to help leaders leverage the ROI of compassion. As the Human Resources Manager for Hill Ward Henderson Law Firm and Vice President of Murfield Coaching, Inc. I speak, consult, coach and train using cutting-edge ideas merged with proven best business practices. At the end of this session, you will understand why the ROI of Compassion is the best business model, strategy, and practice. Compassion is essential to employee engagement that unleashes the ultimate performance, production and profits. Compassion maximizes the human resources in your organization.

I look forward to seeing you at the SHRM 19 conference and encourage you to attend one of Lisa’s sessions. Let’s dig deep and be willing to explore difficult and potentially uncomfortable topics. In other words, lets have the courage to join together in creating better workplaces.


Originally posted on Double M Training & Consulting blog.





A #SHRM19 Interview with Jennifer Currence, a Champion for the HRDOO


Jennifer Currence, MBA, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, CPC is the president of The Currence Group. The Currence Group specializes in training geared towards enhancing leadership development and management skills. They further specialize in HR related training and offer HR professionals a place to earn recertification credits online and on-demand. 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,, and BambooHR. She was an editor for SHRM's 2016 Learning System and is a writer of exam questions for the SHRM-SCP exam. Jennifer is also a regular speaker at regional, national, and international SHRM events and conferences and is the author of SHRM's eight-part behavioral 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 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 three different topics over the course of the conference, which include Business Acumen: A Workshop for HR Departments of One, How to Harness the Power of Intentional Communication as an HR DOO and The Top Five Priorities for an HR Department of One.

Can you give us some insight on what your 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 4th 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 June 23, 2019, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm. Click here to take the 5 minute survey. Check out and plan all your concurrent sessions HERE.

Prior to the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition (2019) Jennifer polled small-business HR professionals to identify the top issues they're facing in 2019. Attend her session to see how this year’s results compare to last year!

Developing Business Acumen is a preconference workshop for HR Departments of One where you can learn practical solutions for implementing skills in business acumen, critical evaluation and consultation in your job.  Presented on Saturday June 22, 2019 from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm.  For more information on some fantastic preconference workshops and sessions click HERE.

How to Harness the Power of Intentional Communication as an HR DOO is a presentation based on my 4th book, which is soon to be released!  This session will give you information and guidance that enable you to intentionally control the power of your communication with all stakeholders.  This session is scheduled for June 25, 2019, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm.  Check out and plan all your concurrent sessions HERE.

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 Creating Better Workplaces, 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.

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.



Is Your Organization Ready for an Equal Pay Close-Up?


April 2nd marks Equal Pay Day in the United States. With the nation sharply focused on pay equity issues, this is a great time to assess whether your organization’s pay structure is in need of some spring cleaning.

Here are five steps you can take to ensure that your organization is prepared for an equal pay close-up:

  1. Conduct a self-audit. One of the very best ways to get a handle on pay equity in your organization is to look at the numbers. A self-audit can help identify whether you have an issue or simply areas in which your job titles and/or categories don’t fully reflect real-world responsibilities, skills and/or qualifications. It is recommended that an attorney oversee any self-audit process to ensure that you are aware of potential legal ramifications and because such an analysis conducted without an attorney may be subject to mandatory disclosure in future litigation.
  2. Ensure that you have defined pay practices within your organization. Pay should be based on a measurable and consistent set of factors. These factors must be universal across your organization and reflect legally permissible reasons for pay distinction, such as: skills, effort, responsibilities, seniority, merit and/or quantity or quality of production. Ensure that your practices also establish how pay rates are determined in all phases of employment: initially, at review time and in the event of on out-of-cycle pay change.
  3. Train your managers. Your managers are often your front-line in determining which position an individual will fill and then setting and reevaluating his or her pay. Your practices as an organization will generally reflect how well your managers understand and adhere to your pay practice or policy. It is critical to ensure that your management team understands the importance of equitable pay and the role they play in carrying out these policies. Does each manager understand what is and what is not a permissible reason to pay one employee a different salary than another? This may seem intuitive, but often is not.
  4. Know your state and local laws. State and local laws addressing gender pay equity have been updated and strengthened in recent years. Some jurisdictions have restricted what are considered to be permissible factors for pay differentials beyond those established under the Equal Pay Act. Others have created legal safe harbors for employers who make proactive, good faith efforts to ensure pay equity. Still others have enacted laws addressing disclosure of candidate pay history. Make sure that you are up-to-date on the latest laws where you do business.
  5. Fix it! If you discover that your organization has a pay equity problem … fix it now! The problem is simply not going to get better on its own. Promptly seek out assistance from an attorney to ensure that you remedy and communicate the issue properly. Fixing it is the right thing to do … and it’s the law.


Happy cleaning! If you want to dig a little deeper, check out SHRM’s Managing Pay Equity Toolkit.




Every Day is the Right Day for Pay Transparency

Today, as advocates celebrate Equal Pay Day, we’ll be reminded that there is a pay gap between men and women. But calculating the differences is far more complex than applying a simple formula, and the causes remain hard to explain.

No employer deliberately wants to shortchange or exclude the talent they need to succeed. Pay equity is good for everyone. So, we at SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, are focused on pay equity solutions. We’re not waiting for a legislative fix. Every day should be Equal Pay Day, and it begins with HR best practice.

There is a value proposition to work—the agreement struck between the employer and the employee. Candidates want an opportunity to succeed at a great workplace, and employers want to hire great talent. It is critical that each party understands the benefits provided by the other, including and especially compensation.

That’s why the most important element of an equitable pay strategy is transparency. It begins with HR, and it begins at the start of the hiring process. It’s not necessary to wait until the last minute to talk about compensation, and candidates should not be discouraged from negotiating.

Nor should employers rely on a candidates’ salary history as a method to determine compensation. Today, the nature of work is rapidly changing as new tools and technologies are introduced into the workplace. The candidate’s title, job description and pay may not have changed since the salary was determined, but it’s likely his or her duties and skill sets have. Today, talent professionals encourage employers to ask about pay expectations rather than basing it solely on salary history.

How pay decisions are made should also be as clear as possible. Unfortunately, many companies are still reluctant to do so, according to the latest data from WorldatWork, which studies compensation trends. Last year, just over 40 percent of employers shared with employees how their pay programs are designed; base salary ranges were shared by 38 percent of employers.

Those numbers appear to be dropping, which is concerning amid this war for talent we are all engaged in and the growing importance of inclusive workplace cultures. Sharing pay policies with employees can improve engagement and head off doubts that the employer is playing fair with compensation.

Transparency isn’t just for inside the HR suite. We encourage employers to make it clear that candidates can discuss pay during the interview, and employees are free to discuss it in the workplace without penalty.

We all know that compensation is a powerful tool for attracting top talent. But pay transparency is equally powerful in keeping employees engaged, included and enthusiastically serving as your talent ambassadors. Shining a light on pay is one thing organizations can do to ensure that everyone is being treated equitably in the workplace.






A Great Pleasure in Life




A Great Pleasure in Life Is Doing What People Say You Cannot Do.

Walter Bagehot was an early 19th century businessman, and in1861, he began the first of his 17 years as the editor of the London based weekly “The Economist.” While Bagehot wrote several books, Lombard Street, in 1873, was one of his most important – and a big influence on modern financial systems. The title of this blog post is a quote from him. He was arguably the most influential editor of The Economist, remembered today in the Bagehot column on the web and in the printed version of the magazine.

If I had a time machine, it would be interesting to travel back and ask Walter why he said this – and why this quote of his would outlive him - he clearly must have said this multiple times. A deeper look into his life shows that his father was a VP, and his father in law was the founder and owner of the Economist.

It raises the question of what was it that he did and who did he defy that gave him this pleasure?

We are all underdogs in some aspect of our lives. There is always someone in our life who doesn’t believe in us. They might not tell us directly – it might be their body language – or an email that’s ignored, or a “like” that we expect but never see. The people that don’t think you can be a novelist, a managing partner – or that you can run a 10-minute mile – or that you can quit smoking – whatever it is, we all have disbelievers in our lives.

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a people manager or an HR professional is that we have a position where we can hold a mirror up to individuals and say, “you can do it.” The WWII cultural phenom Rosie the Riveter rallied people with a “We Can Do It!” message. We have that position – and it’s our responsibility to use it for good.

Walter Bagehot reminds us that there is nothing more satisfying than proving people wrong about you and your achievements. Think back to your high school guidance counselor’s advice for you.

It’s critical for HR professionals to see the best in people, not the worst. Sometimes, we may all end up in job that is not a good fit. That doesn’t mean that the individual is a failure, it only means that it’s not a good fit.

As managers and as HR professionals, we need to support people to find their bliss and prove their disbelievers wrong.

There is nothing so satisfying, for any of us, to show people that we exceed their expectations. History is filled with examples of people who defied expectations. Abraham Lincoln grew up in a one room log cabin. Gandhi, da Vinci, MLK, FDR, JFK, Helen Keller, Anne Frank, Ada Lovelace – so many examples of people breaking out of the early expectations to change the world.

Our job is to encourage and support bold ambition and great dreams – to empower everyone to feel that great pleasure in life that Walter Bagehot talks about when we do things that people don’t think we can do.

Regardless of what others think, as Anne Frank said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

We are here to change the world….