By John Sumser
Influence is one part position and leverage and one part personality. There are some things you just can’t do unless you have the right job. While many of the key influencers in HR-Recruiting have built their spheres over time, others move through careers and end up in positions that cast a big shadow. Occasionally, you run across someone who is able to harness a big position in a way that no one else has.
As the COO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), China Gorman is helping the organization navigate new waters. As the HR profession matures and faces a stream of pending disruptions, it’s primary professional association is beginning to shift its focus. These days, relevance and viability are not a given. It’s more than a little amazing that stodgy old SHRM is moving with the times.
Talking with China, you could be excused for thinking that SHRM was always open to external influence and was a hyperadaptive enterprise. Typically that’s not what professional associations do. It certainly isn’t the track record of the leading HR association. Long derided for being out of touch with members and the times, no one is more surprised than I to discover that there is real change brewing.
New executive leadership brings new focus. The new President and CEO, Lon O’Neill was Chief of HR for Kaiser Permanete and a managing partner at Heidrik and Struggles. Gorman, herself, has a really deep background in outplacement with real P&L responsibility and a growth track record. This means that the talent acquisition and management agenda is on the front burner. The organization’s leadership is rooted in business and strategic responsibility.
We talked for a long time about the disruption headed our way. From her perspective, HR is built of two pieces: Compliance and Talent. Part of the future she imagines is a strengthening of the gap between the two. One is a strategic issue and one, hygiene. You have to get the hygiene stuff (payroll, comp benefits) right. The money is in Talent related matters.
She was the interim CEO at SHRM while the search committee found her a new boss. Years as a serious player in various staffing industry prepared her well for senior decision making at a trade association. She is often the face of SHRM on Capitol Hill. Gorman is heavily interviewed and always engaging. She hosted /content/view/30/62/”>buy cialis generic the blogging panel at SHRM’s annual conference.
Part of the change that Gorman is shepherding is an expansion of SHRM’s influence and stakeholder base.
She tells the story of HR at WalMart. The company moved HR away from the stores, centralizing some functions and outsourcing others. After some time, it became clear that having an effective HR Department in the store was a better approach. When Walmart decided to bring the function back to the local level, they chose an interesting development partner: SHRM. While being very careful not to step on toes, SHRM is moving well beyond its established /content/view/30/62/”>buy cialis generic parameters.
Nothing could be better for the profession.
Gorman’s story is so compelling that we’ve scheduled a second round of interviews with her to clearly define the changes she is helping to make.
John Sumser is the founder and CEO of TwoColorHat, a company specializing in market strategy for HR – Recruiting Vendors. You can keep up with his other stuff at johnsumser.com. Follow the rest of the Top 100 Influencers project.