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This year was my first year attending SHRM LDF, otherwise known as the SHRM Leadership Development Forum (#SHRMLead). The conference took place October 2nd and 3rd at the Sheraton Boston. I heard there were just over 400 attendees, which I thought was a great size because it was easy to network and have more intimate conversations during the concurrent sessions, luncheons and happy hours.
For lunch on Tuesday, attendees were grouped by industry and I sat at a table of other HR manufacturing professionals, where we discussed recruiting and retention struggles and ideas. The theme of the conference was “Be The Lead,” and I think the speakers that SHRM selected did a great job of inspiring all of us through their content to be the lead and enhance the soft skills that make great leaders. I thought there was something for everyone, no matter how long you’ve been a leader, or if you’re a newbie and looking to gain more confidence.
Cracking the Confidence Code
Claire Shipman kicked off the opening keynote with “Cracking the confidence code,” on how confidence affects work performance. She talked about how confidence in women leaders is lacking compared to their competence, and how confidence is what drives us to take risks and take action. In HR, we need to encourage risk taking and new ideas, and make sure we are facilitating meetings where people have a chance to speak and the same people aren’t always dominating. Another good point was to ensure that women are continually given stretch assignments so that it becomes a habit. The more we feel uncomfortable and fail, the more confidence we build for the future.
Dealing with Difficult People
Olivia Fox Cabane talked about dealing with difficult people in her keynote. Why are people difficult? Most people are difficult because they don’t like change. What can we do as HR to help people feel more certain and move through change? She explained how a lot of people are afraid of impostor syndrome and shame, and that creates a need to fill their “certainty bucket” so they can focus on the tasks we need them to do. She also talked about the importance of empathy and body language when dealing with difficult people.
The Magic of Words
Phil Jones was the closing keynote and he talked about the secret to getting what you want by using the magic of words! He said the worst time to think about what you’re going to say is in the moment you’re supposed to say it. He too talked about how change is hard, and if the current state is “fine,” then who wants to change to something else? The first thing we need to do is have people see themselves doing the new thing by telling a story and using the term “just imagine.” People are more likely to take action and accept change when they can see themselves in the new scenario. When someone is being negative towards something you want to do, respond with “what makes you say that?” This gives the person an opportunity to unpack their statement, which may not be true. As HR, we have to have good sales skills, whether we are selling ourselves or an idea.