I start this post as I hurdle along at 501 mph in seat 30C over the skies of Ohio on my way to the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference in Orlando. It occurs to me that I am very fortunate in so many ways in life and this certainly counts as one of them.
Many people who practice in the area of human resources will either never have or never take the opportunity to learn from others in a setting like a large HR conference. For many, the way things are being done in their company or organization is the only way that HR is done and to veer away from that would require a leap of faith and a willingness to push beyond ordinary. Going beyond one’s comfort zone is essential to beating what is ordinary and making things, if not extraordinary, at least at little less ordinary.
This will be only my second SHRM Annual conference, although I am a veteran of several other SHRM conferences and remain heavily involved with a great state SHRM conference, HR Indiana. To me, these conferences are a valuable opportunity to learn from others, expand horizons, and challenge my own conventional thinking.
It’s been an interesting year for me professionally. A little more that a year ago, our family relocated to Portage, Michigan from our longtime home of Bloomington, Indiana. We moved as my wife pursued a tremendous opportunity to join Stryker, a leading medical device company. I am happy to say that move continues to be a positive one for her! This leap of faith then brought me an opportunity that I could not have imagined even a year ago.
That pursuit of things beyond ordinary leads to new experiences and the dissolution of barriers that I myself once imposed upon myself. For example, as an HR professional, I had never worked in a unionized environment. Now, I serve as the HR Director for a public school with five bargaining units with contracts that all expire June 30, 2014 and a sizable non-unionized workforce. A year ago, I would have told you that I couldn’t do this type of work as it’s too different from what I had done before. As it turns out, applying the same principles that worked well for me before provide great benefit now. 3 of our 5 groups now have tentative agreements, we are seeing success of our students in so many ways, and I’ve witnessed great development on the HR team I lead. I count among the good fortune a great superintendent to work for, dedicated people in leadership focused on educational excellence, and another organization that has wonderfully dedicated people in every role!
One of my goals while at SHRM in Orlando is to find other HR professionals working in public education so I can learn from them and their districts. Naturally, unconventional thinking is welcomed and I hope to find some kindred spirits who want to focus on the new and build greatness into their organizations. If you’re looking for, you will not find me in sessions on FMLA compliance or getting updates on the Affordable Care Act. These (to me at least!) are ordinary and will not help push my organization to the world-class level I know it can be.
So, if you have a session that pushes boundaries and will prompt new ideas, let me know. Life should always be less ordinary and more extraordinary!
Bradley Galin, MBA, SPHR is the Director of Human Resources for the Portage Public Schools in Portage, Michigan and serves as an official WeKnowNext blogger and member of the #SHRM14 blog squad! Follow him on twitter @bradgalin and subscribe to www.RollerCoasterHR.com for the latest updates.