The 2017 HR Specialist Summit: Key Takeaways

On September 6-8, the first ever HR Specialist Summit was held in Las Vegas. Co-sponsored by Business Management Daily and Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP, it had more than 120 attendees. We had two parallel tracks: Strategic and Compliance. I moderated.

I asked our speakers to share a key takeaway from his/her session for this post:

Strategic Track:

Be a Coach, Not a Cop: Transforming Interactions Between HR and Management

Frank Wagner, Jathan Janove: “Don’t be the ‘Department of Answers.’ Identify options and evaluate them with management. Follow the Chinese proverb on leadership: ‘When it is all said and done, the people said they did it themselves.’ With the best coaches, when it is all said and done, the leader says, ‘I did it myself.’”

HR as the Agent (and Architect) of Positive Change in Your Workplace

John Benson: “HR is first/foremost about the organization, and that means we must first think like the CEO of our respective companies. From there, we can provide the right tools, resources, direction, support and development for our employees and for our organization.”

Dealing with Conflict—A Strategic and Tactical Approach

Jathan Janove: “Use the EAR listening technique, practice verbal Aikido and apologize with the MIDAS Touch: Admit making a mistake. Acknowledge the injury it caused. State what you’ll do differently. Make amends. Stop talking!”

Getting Serious About Employee Engagement: How to Create and Measure It

Marcy Fetzer, Jathan Janove: “Remember to ‘mind the GAP:’ Focus on GROWTH opportunities, provide the right AUTONOMY, and connect people with your PURPOSE. These engagement anchors can help close that engagement GAP and make a positive difference for your organizational culture.”

HR by the Numbers: Metrics & Data Analysis

Isaac Dixon: “Know what metrics matter to your business and understand what they are telling you.”

What Do HR and the C-Suite Really Want (and Expect) From Each Other

Scott Parson, Monica Whalen, Nicole Mouskondis: “Earn a seat at the table as the CEO’s trusted advisor. Become a resource by understanding the business needs and proactively providing solutions that help your CEO achieve company vision and strategy.”

The Future of Performance Management

Isaac Dixon, Marcy Fetzer, Ross Runkel: “When it comes to performance reviews there are clear benefits to an ‘always-on’ approach or using regular ‘growth conversations.’ The goal should be to create opportunities for employees to learn and grow as often as possible; this can happen in many ways, not just once a year during annual reviews. Also, using metrics to measure employee engagement and pain points for managers can help an organization design how performance management works in their organization.”

The Hard-Won Wisdom Workshop

Jathan Janove, Monica Whalen, Marcy Fetzer and Ross Runkel: “The best HR policies aren’t compliance-oriented. They’re focused on core values and creating a work environment where every employee feels safe, secure and respected, and where differences are resolved constructively.”

Compliance Track:

Workplace Investigations—Your Checklist for Conducting Perfect Investigations Every Time

David Steffen: “Investigations are more than just interviewing witnesses. With proper planning and preparation, they can be much more effective and we can better protect the company.”

Harassment, Bullying and Other Employee Misbehavior: A Prevention Guide

Julius Turman, Alyssa Peters: “Harassment of all types, especially sexual harassment, is on the rise. Akin to this trend, lawmakers across the county are considering legislation to deal with employees bullying others. Beyond understanding the law of these unwanted behaviors, HR professionals need to know the complexities of the signs, motivations, effects and even how online atmospheres can contribute to the problem. Only then can effective tools be designed to train, manage and eliminate such conduct from the workplace.”

Employment Law Master Class for Today’s HR Professional: Cutting-Edge Legal Developments

Timothy Riker Newton: “Employers need to be ‘ahead of the curve’ when it comes to dealing with cutting edge HR issues, such as dealing with employees in states where the medicinal or recreational use of marijuana is allowed. Do not wait until a problem arises; develop a policy and plan of action to handle these thorny issues now.”

Mastering Employee Leave and Accommodation

David Steffen, Heather Owen: “When it comes to managing employee leave and accommodations, never assume, do not make decisions based on knee jerk reactions, and get as much information as you can, including from the employee, before deciding what to do.”

When it’s Time to Disengage: The Termination Checklist

Alyssa Peters:Employment at will is still a strong principle in most states. However, there are red flags you should look out for when terminating an employee. For a high-risk termination, make sure you have ample support via DOCUMENTATION. Have a witness during the termination meeting and document, document, document.”

California Employment Law

Steven Katz: “Even in California, just treating employees decently resolves most of your employment law compliance conundrums.”


If you have suggestions for what we should cover at next year’s conference, please let me know. I hope to see you there!