Conventioneering, HR-style (day 1)



In past years, I wrote long, detail-rich posts from HR central, which for the purposes of the Maine HR Convention, is always the Samoset, in Rockport. This year, I’m opting for shorter posts (at least by my standard for brevity) for a couple of reasons;

1)      Last night, I slept like crap for the second night in a row. As a result, I’m up early this AM, rewriting my notes from last night, and recapping my Day #1.

2)      I decided to spend time last night reading, not blogging, as I have a great book downloaded on my NOOK. Sometimes, I just like to read and enjoy some time off the interwebs.

I rolled into Dodge (aka, the Samoset) Tuesday, around 2:00 pm. That was  good for me, given that I had some Maine BLN duties to attend to prior to motoring down Route 1, and en route.

The afternoon workshop was a winner. “Workforce Training As Growth Catalyst,” with Ali Bonas Gamache, was an intriguing presentation, focused on learning/training and development. “

Ms. Gamache, who is in L&D at IDEXX, hammered home her theme, which was that training, particularly the corporate variety, is no longer limited by constraints of bricks and mortar that once framed training in the corporate environment.

Still, many companies haven’t come to terms with the ubiquity of tools for learning that technology has delivered. Also, many companies haven’t figured out how to leverage and use technology effectively for training purposes. Gamache asked those in the room how many of them still limited internet access onsite, at their places of work. Sadly, a number of hands went up.

Some of her touchstones were that today’s workforce is more diverse that ever, especially at companies that are global in scope. Learning encompasses a multi-generational framework, English may not be the primary means of communication, and employees are no longer encumbered by geography.

All of this means a fundamental change for learning and development departments and HR, especially in how people think about learning, how they consume, share and apply content, and how the business measures value. She also applied these elements to social media and companies, especially hammering home the point that companies that limit social media usage are fighting a battle they won’t win. This could be a separate blog post, but given my desire to be concise and limit word count, I’ll forgo a dissertation on the small-mindedness behind companies attempting to limit social media usage by employees.

Gamache was an excellent presenter. She knew her material, delivered it with passion, flair, and a good deal of humor.  I also gathered that IDEXX has a progressive attitude toward employee engagement and isn’t afraid of embracing new ideas and operating in the 21st century.

Al Pittampali was the afternoon keynote. His talk centered on his book, Read This Before Our Next Meeting. Basically, his premise is that meetings are counter-productive in many cases, and how can we maximize the meetings that we all participate, and even require in our work?

In taking on the meeting, or at least the culture of meetings, Pittampali is butting up against the scourge of nonprofits, government, corporate America, and your local school board, which has enshrined the meeting. And here’s what we all know; meetings generally suck!

His book isn’t about better facilitation; he hammered home the point that facilitation isn’t the issue. The issue is that meetings generally serve no real purpose other than to waste people’s time.

Before you think, “Hooray! I don’t have to go to meetings anymore,” let me clue you in that Pittampali isn’t championing the elimination of them altogether. However, he wants them to serve their purpose and then, we can all move on from them.

If you want a better summary, here’s a decent one.

Pittampalli’s book is now on my list of business books to read.

As I touched on in my prior post on the convention, attending this annual HR gathering allows me an opportunity to connect with many people that I won’t see again until next year. I enjoy the opportunity to network and take pride in my ability and persistence in the effort required to engage with others. I also recognize that there are those here that don’t really care to connect with anyone outside their small circle, or HR sphere. I’m ok with that.

I made a brief appearance at the social hour just prior to the chapter dinners taking place tonight. I hadn’t lined up an HR chapter to dine with this year, so I headed back up the road to my hotel.

This was a smart move.

I grabbed dinner at a great, locally-owned Mexican place, smack dab across the driveway from my hotel. No need for happy motoring after dinner.

I actually got to network at the bar, over dinner, with another fellow conventioneer, Tara. The two of us had a chance to chat up Ron, the owner, and hear about his very successful business model of buying/selling restaurants. He and his wife (who does the cooking) have done this for a number of years across the country, and they’ve owned 15 different kinds of restaurants that have included Mediterranean, German-Swiss, and Italian.

Merely walking across the parking lot to my room was nice. I returned a few emails, read for about an hour, and then turned out the light for about five hours of sleep before waking before the roosters.  

I’m up very early and will head out for a run in a bit. Then, it’s off to the Samoset for a full day of programming, including another big league keynoter, Cy Wakeman.


2 thoughts on “Conventioneering, HR-style (day 1)

    • Suzi,

      So glad we finally met in person. Great talking about social media, blogging, and content development.

      As I mentioned, I really enjoy your blog, especially your recent series of posts about toxic employees in the workplace, as well as bullying. Very pertinent stuff.


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