SHRM Speaker Q&A: James Robbins #SHRM14

This week we’re featuring our favorite SHRM speakers so those in attendance can learn a little more about who they are and their session through a Q&A session. Today we’re featuring James Robbins. From SHRM’s website,

James is a rare mix of management consultant, adventurer and motivational speaker. He has been teaching leadership and peak performance for the last 12 years. After leading non-profit organizations across North America, James founded The Robbins Group in 2003 to help organizations increase their productivity and lower their employee turn over. James is also the author of Nine Minutes on Monday, – The Quick and Easy Way to Turn Managers into Leaders. He has given over 1,000 presentations in the last 10 years and when not speaking he keeps busy planning adventures and raising teenagers.

Getting to Know James Robbins

What do you love about HR?

I love that HR has not forgotten the simple fact that the greatest asset in any organization is the people who work there. Deadlines and bottom lines still take precedence in many organizations, but HR is like that corporate conscience, reminding senior management that how we treat our people is directly linked to our long-term success. That’s why I love HR.

In your opinion, what’s an employer’s greatest motivation for developing managers into leaders?

If you don’t develop your managers into leaders your organization will plateau far below its potential.  Managers maintain growth, but leaders multiply it.  The challenge I see everywhere I go is that working managers are so busy that training and development get squeezed out.  You have to take time to develop your managers or it will cost you dearly in the long run. I think HR can act as a catalyst in all of this by constantly pushing the value of training and finding new and innovative ways to train staff even when things are hectic.

What do you say to those HR practitioners who are essentially a “department of one” and feel like they don’t have time in their day to worry about their own professional development? 

If you don’t make time for your own professional development you will eventually be replaced by someone who did. If you don’t have a lot of time to burn (and who does) then invest it in small chunks. Long lasting personal growth is usually incremental. Value the small and consistent steps because eventually they add up to something quite impressive. Make personal development a priority by scheduling it in your calendar each week. I know it can seem like you don’t have time for it, but over the long haul it will actually make you more effective. Ten minutes of personal development a day is better than none at all, and at the end of the week it adds up to almost an hour.

What kind of HR practitioner should attend your session? What’s the #1 benefit they’ll get out of it?

If you are a busy HR manager who is looking for a fast and efficient way to inspire greater engagement among your staff then this session is perfect for you. I realized a few years ago that so much of training was ineffective because people didn’t have time to implement what they had learned. People need bite-sized morsels that bring about the greatest amount of change.   In the Nine Minutes on Monday session you will learn a simple method that that will increase the motivation and engagement among your staff, and the best part is that it won’t take a lot of time.

What’s your best tip for the SHRM Annual Conference?

Make it a goal to introduce yourself to one new person in every session you attend. It’s tempting to only hang out with your old friends, which is important, but in a conference as large as SHRM, you have to capitalize on the wealth of potential new relationships.  SHRM is so big that it can be intimidating to a lot of people. In fact many people are simply waiting for someone else to reach out to them because they may not have the courage to make the first move. Take the lead and go for it. Conferences come and go, but a new friend or colleague can last a lifetime. Also, take time to meet the speaker. Most of them are thrilled to hear from you. (At least I am.)

Where can we learn more about you?

Climbing a mountain together is probably the best but if that doesn’t work then check out my website at


Title: Nine Minutes of Monday
Time: 06/23/2014 10:45 – 12:00 PM
Room: W311
Track: Personal & Leadership Development
HRCI Credits? 1.25 HR Credit
Audience: Mid-level

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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