One of the things I’ve always disliked about local SHRM meetings is the lack of time to have a conversation or make connections with other HR professionals in the area. Everyone is pressed for time, so we want to get in, get our sandwich, listen to the presentation, get our credits and go. I assumed, rightly, I probably wasn’t the only one who felt that way.
When I joined the board, I started gently (ugh, gently. Why do I question my influence??) pushing for more of that interactive time. Did we really have to have a presentation style meeting where we all sat passively? Couldn’t we find ways to get people to talk to each other?
Our first attempt was a day-long event using “Open Space.” While we didn’t have a huge turnout (and we did lose money), those that attended loved the interactive style. I loved that I actually got to meet and learn more about members of BAHRA. Brookings is a small community, so it is nice to be able to talk to others in my profession.
We decided that even though it wasn’t a success on paper, we needed to do more events like this, but maybe not a full day. Because, well, people were engaged! One of my fellow board members mentioned a meeting they did once called “Speed Solutions.” It sounded so, um, HOKEY. Kind of like speed dating, but you get to talk with fellow professionals about challenges in your work environment and get advice or at least commiseration! One on one conversations, limited time and you get to talk to as many people as possible in the time frame. The introvert here groaned inside. You have to talk to EVERYONE in this type of situation.
But crazy enough, it works. We’ve had 3 super successful lunch & learns, discussing onboarding, generations & dress code. This last go around was dress code & honestly several people groaned at the idea of that topic. We had a small group, only 15 people. I led the lunch so I decided to bring the group back together to talk about take-aways. The magic really happened there. Everyone was contributing!! The ice was broken and we were all able to rally around one member who had one of those fun dress-code violators & wanted assistance. It was awesome to see people continuing to talk as we left (& not just talking to those they already know!)
We do still have some traditional presentations as there is value there, especially with the ever changing laws and regulations. But beyond knowing those laws and regulations, it’s so nice to be able to have contacts in the community to see how they are implementing or even just communicating those changes to their staff. Heck, it’s even nice to be able to talk to those on the same side of the fence!