Vendors help pay your way and provide valuable information to help advance your career.

Vendors help pay your way and provide valuable information to help advance your career.

I am attending the SHRM Atlanta 2015 conference day two today. This is the 25th annual conference that the SHRM Atlanta chapter has produced. I thought that I would republish a post from April of 2013. The value of attending such a conference is not diminished by two years of time. 

I am preparing to attend the SHRM-Atlanta 2013 conference on Monday April 29th and Tuesday April 30th. I will be blogging and live Tweeting from the sessions and the conference marketplace. Whether you are attending this conference or any of the multiple SHRM affiliated conferences here is a KEY tip for making the most of your conference experience.


The sessions and the speakers are always valuable, but the real value for me is derived from the time I spend in the marketplace. The value is found in three places in the marketplace. First was reconnecting with people I had not seen in a while, both attendees and vendors. As much as you would like to stay in touch with people it is hard to do so in the course of the day-to-day routine. So meeting an old friend or acquaintance wandering around or staffing a booth is always a pleasant event. In doing so I catch up on what they are doing and where they are in the world. If I happen to see two at one time I try to be a “connector” for them and introduce them to someone they have not yet met. This follows along with a keynote address I heard one year on Netweaving, presented by Bob Littel.

Meeting new people

The second value derived is connecting with someone I had not previously met. I make several new acquaintances at every conference I attend, either through an introduction or by walking up to a vendor and sticking my hand out and introducing myself. You never know where that introduction may lead.

Time with the vendors

The third value is learning what vendors are offering these days. As a consultant I try to be a resource for my clients, and not in just things that I can offer. So hearing what is being offered, what is cutting edge, what is new and exciting is invaluable to me. If you aspire to be strategic in your organization you have to have some foresight. Foresight is gained by doing research and the best way to do that research in the most convenient way possible is to walk around a conference marketplace. Yes you may have to listen to a sales pitch,  but that is ok. Knowledge comes at a price. It will not kill you. Plus, you have an opportunity to get some great “swag”. Pens, cups, and other gizmos always make a conference fun.

 The next time

So the next time you attend a conference make an effort to spend time in the marketplace. Make an effort to meet the vendors and learn more about what is going on and available outside of your office. If nothing else reward these vendors who pay big bucks to be there, it helps keep your cost of attendance down.


Learn the seven steps to becoming a strategic contributor to your company.

Learn the seven steps to becoming a strategic contributor to your company.

Today I am presenting at the SHRM-Atlanta conference in Atlanta. I will be presenting on Seven Steps to Becoming a Practical HR Futurist. Hopefully I will see you there. If not, I am republishing a blog post that covered this topic.

The more I read the more it becomes apparent to me how important an awareness of the future is for Human Resources professionals at all levels, but especially at the Vice President. In today’s world, when HR is supposed to be adding a strategic component, if you are not focusing on the future you will have no chance of ever being strategic. The world of work is going to change so fast, and in many cases so radically, by the year 2025 that if you are not focused on that very near horizon you be lost. That 10 years is going to pass so quickly and there is so much work, adaptation and innovation that needs to be started today.

I hope you can learn some of these lessons from this post, If you would like to know more reach out to me.

Originally published August 15, 2014

Last week I promised the publication of my 7 Steps to being a practical HR futurist, based on the hour presentation I have done several times. I became interest in the future a long time ago. I was a fan of H.G. Wells, Jules Verne and Isaac Asimov as a kid. After getting into HR I got frustrated by working in a field that was mostly reactionary and seldom visionary. Over time however, I came to realize how short-sighted that is and how much harm it can do a company. I think it is important for HR professionals to have an eye on the horizon and to anticipate things headed their way. This anticipation combined with some preparation allows the HR professional to have a plan in place when the “thing” arrives.

The 7 Steps

Before I get to the kinds of things that could have an impact in the future I will tell you the seven steps.

Step 1: Engage in systems thinking and understand your organization’s mental models.

This means it is important for you to understand how the organization thinks. What are the inherent assumptions within the organization? How does management view its current workforce? Is the organization an early adopter of technology or a “Johnny-come-lately”? What biases are there toward people, things, culture and change? Understanding these will help you determine what you need to attend to and how receptive the organization will be toward the scenarios you develop.

Step 2: Look back to look forward

This means it is important to understand the history of your organization. What are its roots? What is the history of the industry you are in? Few of us have the luxury of having been in on the ground floor. Understanding  how you got to where you are is important.

Step 3: Scan the environment

This means you need to pay attention to what is going on in the world, in HR, in your industry, your geography and more. It means you have to be aware. This is hard because of the mass of information that is out there.  There is the acronym STEEP that is taught in the certification material. It stands for Society, Technology, Environment, Economics and Political. There are variations of this, but this is the basic one I use. You can make good use of technology, specifically Google, to define alerts that will send to you information on whatever you want. But you also have to be pretty well read and pretty aware as well. Reading an assortment of blogs and newsletters would be a good start. Oh by the way, look beyond your comfort zone and delve into  something you are unfamiliar with.

Step 4: Look at the trends

This means once you have started identifying things that may be of importance you must collect the data on the trends that are occurring in that area. You need to be looking at whether that “thing” is just a single data point or whether it is turning into something that will have an impact on your organization. As an example, say your organization employs high school graduates who stay in the home town and go to work for you organization because you are a good paying and respected company. You would need to be paying attention to things like graduation rate, immigration rate, and migration rate to determine if you are going to have the labor force you need in five years. Or is that labor force graduating and leaving the home town for the big city? Or are they going to college and have no interest in working for you? Is there a new population in town that can take their place? If not, what are you doing to prepare for this?

Step 5: Develop scenarios

Scenarios are stories. This step means you need to develop stories to explain to your management team why they need to be paying attention to what you are telling them. Take my example above. You need to be able to tell the story of the potential change in your employee population. There are typically four scenarios that you develop. These are probable, preferred, plausible and possible. With these you are telling what is most likely to occur; what you would like to occur; what could occur; and what disaster might happen.

Step 6: Do your forecasting

Using the trend reports and the data you have gathered you then forecast what you think is the most likely event to happen. This is not a prediction. This is identifying a possible future and having a plan for it. You CANNOT predict the future, but you can prepare for different futures and by doing so you might be able to steer toward the one that is best suited for you.

Step 7: DO!

This step means actually taking action on the other steps. This is not meant to be an academic exercise. This is meant for you to actually devote time and resources to doing these things. I suggest you begin by taking 5% of your time to look at information. See if trends are arising you need to be aware of. Compile this data. Assign different areas of environment scanning to your staff and have them note trends. Once you arrive on something you think may be of importance then start focusing in on it and begin to develop scenarios or stories. To paraphrase futurist Richard Watson, when you start to think differently about the future you start to think differently about now. Edward Cornish tells us that “futuring is not about predicting the future, but about improving it.”

I hope you find these steps will get you to start thinking about how you can have a major impact on your organization by anticipating and planning for the future.


Future Friday: Adjusting to a life of Smart Tech

by Michael Haberman on April 17, 2015 · 0 comments

Devices will attuned to us in the future

Devices will attuned to us in the future

I have several times in the past envisioned a future for HR departments where robots and smart technology will replace HR professionals who are transactional in nature. I have said that I can foresee an HR department where the walls can identify and talk to any employee who walks through the door.

Smart Tech

Author and futurist James Canton in his book Future Smart talks about the move from “dumb tech” to “smart tech.” Here is an excerpt from his book I want you to think about:

Let’s get back to this point that will be a gigantic shift in technology’s evolution and impact on humans: instead of doing all the work to get tech to understand us humans, tech will know, sense, and be aware of our needs, goals and desires and then enable us to realize our goals, fulfill those needs, and satisfy our desires….. If you wrap your head around this idea – that predictive Smart Machines will adapt to you – then you will begin to see the future differently. Every device, car, house, surface, product, …. Everything starts to Get Smart and notices you going from dumb to smart. When this shifts – and it is starting now – walls will have ears, cars will have personalities, and technology will wake up to pay attention to us.”

This statement makes my smart HR department sound not so far-fetched. There will be many such opportunities, as of yet unknown, for smart tech to impact us in HR. How we will deal with it will depend on our receptivity to it and/or our resistance to it.

One thing is clear; it will impact our lives and that of our employees. It is just a matter of time and it is better to be prepared for it and manage it rather than to get caught unaware of it.



My opinion on women in management

My opinion on women in management

This is an opinion piece. So if you don’t like my opinions don’t read this.

I just read an article asking the question Should More Women in the Workplace be a Requirement? The author quotes German law where companies are required to have women in 30% of their supervisory and managerial positions. He asks if this is something that should be required in the United States. His opinion is “no.”

My Opinion

Before I give you my answer let me give you some background. I am a guy. I have been all my life. I can say with assurance no one has ever questioned that about me. I have had men as bosses and I have had women as bosses. Through my career I have never associated a particular sex as being the “stuff” that makes a boss. I have had good and bad with both sexes. To me it has never made any difference. I want capable, intelligent, fair yet firm, well-spoken people to provide my company with the leadership necessary for everyone to have a chance to be successful. To me petty and incompetent is not related to the physical equipment someone carries.

That being said, I agree with the author of the article. I do not think it is the government’s place to mandate this. We already have that pseudo-mandate in place with affirmative action plans. It is not that I don’t want women hired as bosses. I would actually like to see more, I think it is smart business. I do not want MORE regulations. That is bad for business.

The way to overcome this situation is to make it more appealing to women early on to aspire to managerial positions, in school, when they are young. Teach boys that it is ok for a girl to be the boss. Teach them all that being the boss is about being capable and not about what sex they are. Perhaps as a result this will no longer be an issue. It is up to you as a parent, a teacher and a mentor.


NLRB rules calling your boss a “NASTY MOTHERF**KER” is protected!

by Michael Haberman April 15, 2015

Tweet In the words of the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live “Isn’t that special.” In a ruling that is certain to make some people shake their heads the NLRB ruled that obscene and offensive language did not go “beyond the pale” as one dissenting member said. It seems to open the door to making […]

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In the news

by Michael Haberman April 14, 2015

Tweet This post today is a small collection of news items that caught my interest and I wanted you to be aware of them as well. Retaliation claims still the biggest The EEOC issued  report on claims shows an overall decline in claims, perhaps a reflection of the improved economy. The numbers showed that retaliation […]

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Ambush election? What the heck is an ambush election?

by Michael Haberman April 13, 2015

Tweet Tomorrow, April 14, 2015, is the date that the new rule on “ambush” elections from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) goes into effect. Are you clear on what this is? What exactly is an “ambush” election? In the world of organization unions will spend a great deal of time and money in trying […]

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Future Friday: Texting as the new HR tool

by Michael Haberman April 10, 2015

Tweet If you are in HR or business management do you use a text message as a tool to communicate to, engage with and recruit your employees or potential employees? If you are not you may want to rethink that. Studies show that teens send sixty (60) or more text messages a day. Yeah, but […]

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Hey Employer don’t look to the USDOL for help

by Michael Haberman April 9, 2015

Tweet I recently attended a seminar conducted by the law firm Fisher & Phillips. During the presentations attorney Matt Simpson told us about some changes that the US Department of Labor has instituted that appear to be very anti-employer.  This was reiterated in an article written by attorney John E. Thompson that appeared in TLNT. […]

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Improve your leaders to improve your employees

by Michael Haberman April 8, 2015

Tweet In The Effective Executive Peter Drucker wrote that “the distance between the leaders and the average is constant.” That is a pretty powerful statement if you think about it for a minute. It focuses attention away from the employees and onto leaders. Often we look at the poor performance of employees as the source […]

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