#SHRM16 Report on Opening Day

by Michael Haberman on June 20, 2016 · 0 comments


20160618_162419_resizedThe 2016 SHRM conference started with a great set of keynote that followed Hank Jackson’s opening remarks.

According to Hank Jackson, SHRM’s CEO this is a breakthrough year for human resources. In fact that is the theme for this year BREAKTHROUGH. Jackson says that today’s workplaces need to be innovative, competitive, and equitable. Flexibility needs to be built in. Unfortunately the new regulations on overtime are going in the opposite directions and are robbing many employees of the flexibility many of them currently have. Jackson says that there no longer is “one size fits all” human capital management that the regulations are trying to promote.

Alan Mulally

Following Jackson was Alan Mulally. Mulally was a long term executive with Boeing where he participated in the building of almost every jet in Boeing’s fleet. He was tapped by Ford to lead the company at a time where they were losing money to the tune of $18 million per year. He was able to turn that around through his vision for skilled and motivated teams. The points of this included:

  • People first
  • Everyone needs to be included
  • Have a compelling vision and a comprehensive strategy, followed by relentless implementation
  • Have clear performance goals
  • Have one plan
  • Have facts and data
  • Make sure everyone knows the plan, the status, and are aware of areas that need special attention.
  • Propose a plan, be positive and have a “find a way attitude”
  • Have emotional resilience and trust the process
  • Finally have fun and enjoy the journey and each other.

Mulally credits his HR team in leading this effort which has seen Ford return to profitability and hire 45,000 new employees.

Mike Rowe

Rowe is who I wanted to hear and he did not disappoint. Rowe started off by saying he was in concert with HR and the concern we have with the widening skills gap.

His trip to fame started in San Francisco where he was a TV reporter on a soft story type of program. He said it was terrible and he was bad at it. One day he was challenged by his mother to do something that would show his ailing grandfather that he could do some actual work. This got him to thinking about hosting his show in some place other than a winery. He proposed doing the show from the sewer system of San Francisco. He thought it would show the viewers something different. His boss said that since no one watched the show any way to go ahead.

He then contacted the city and they hooked him up with a guy who had the task of repairing bricks in the aging sewer system. His intent was to do a regular broadcast from the sewer. What happened was much different. He encountered what he called “a horrible horrible chocolate tide in the sewer. The walls were alive with roaches and rats. He ultimately helped the guy do the brick repair.

He was fired for airing the story, but as he was editing it he became enraptured by the footage of having a host shut up (him) and letting the guest tell his story and showing his or her expertise. This was the grain of the show Dirty Jobs. He shopped it to cable and the Discovery Channel ultimately filmed 300 shows.

Rowe said the Greeks call this Peripeteia, a breakthrough moment. Seeing the show and then producing and staring in the show was his breakthrough moment. It got him to thinking about what we are doing with young people and not helping them get jobs that may be dirtier but produce happier employees. We need to answer the question why don’t people want these jobs. Rowe says we don’t value people today, we don’t value work today and we don’t help people understand the value and challenge.

He said some to the Millennial employees we have today just need to be told they can’t do something.

The session was informative and entertaining. It ended when Rowe, a good friend of Mulally, said that Mulally looked like a cross between Howdy Doody and the boy scout next door.

The expo hall opened after the close of the keynote addresses but more about the vendors I met in another blog post.


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