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Does your SHRM Chapter Board need a reality check?

Does your HR Chapter need a mid-year reality check?

Reality CheckIt’s July 4th and as I write this, I cannot believe that 6 months have gone by. Having been involved with the local , Florida, SHRM chapters for several years now, I am quite certain that each and every SHRM volunteer leader is feeling the pressure; between work, family and their commitment to their chapter, well – you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed right now.

Most chapters have a planning meeting in December or January; those meetings are filled with excitement and promises of better things to come right? But then life gets in the way and you find yourself six months into it and “Rut Row” (as Scooby-Doo would say), you realize you’re off target.

Here are some possible scenarios that may be impacting your chapter’s success and some ideas to take control before the rest of the year flies by.

Are you doing too much (or not enough)?

Do your board members feel as though they are contributing to the success of the organization or are they simply going through the motions counting down the days until the end of the year? Is everyone being proactive, responding to e-mails and calls as quickly as possible or do you hear crickets for weeks and then there’s a last minute rush of communication two weeks before the next meeting? Are one or two people on the board carrying the entire show? Each board member from the President on down needs to be honest with themselves, because giving too much (or not enough) will impact the success of the organization and its members.  If you think it’s easier just to do it all yourself, reevaluate that. If you need help, let someone know – we all need help from time to time. Great leaders refuse to fail and make sure they get the job done – even if it means they have to ask for help. And if there’s an issue with a fellow board member who may be negatively impacting the rest of the group – SPEAK UP and professionally deal with it. When you took the oath of office, you promised to conduct business on behalf of the membership. You’re not doing the chapter (or the members) any good by ignoring these types of issues.  Reach out to your District Director for guidance or to lend an ear – that’s what we’re here for.

Speaking of members…..

Have the membership numbers declined? It’s no secret that some chapters are having a tough time with membership. Companies aren’t reimbursing their employees for memberships and meeting dues like they used to, and individuals are being more selective about the meetings they attend. We have multiple generations on our member roster, are we addressing each of their needs? Who are you competing with for members and what are they doing better than you? It’s important to sit down right now and think about the value you are giving to your members. Are you providing them with unique programs with fresh content where people feel as though they leave with thought provoking takeaways? How are you marketing your meetings? What does it look like? Do you have your calendar set for the year and posted on your website or are you being reactive and throwing it all together at the last minute each month?  If you didn’t have to attend because you are on the board – WOULD you attend?

Looking to the future.

I know, I know – I can hear the groaning as I type this. If you can’t even keep up with what’s happening next month, how are you going to make time to think about 2013? It’s all part of the responsibility and if you haven’t already begun, now is the time to do some succession planning. Typically this responsibility falls to the President-Elect – so if this is you, do you have a sense of who on the board could be your best contributors? Is there anyone being under-utilized that you’ve identified as a budding super-star? Are there folks who just aren’t pulling their weight and need to be replaced next year or have potential but need mentoring? Come on HR folks, we know the drill and we know what needs to be done. Running a chapter is like running a business – it’s your responsibility to do what’s best for the chapter… nuff’ said.

It’s also time to start thinking about the SHRM Shape Report – it’s due on 1/31/13 and you can find it here under the SHRM Volunteer Resources. If someone hasn’t been working on this throughout the year, now is the time to start pulling the information together so you’re not rushing to complete this at the start of the year.

The bottom line – it’s all about the members.    

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: volunteering for an HR chapter takes dedication, determination and yes – even some courage to stand up for what’s right. The personal and professional rewards are enormous and personally speaking, it has been worth every minute of my time and effort. Do it for right reasons, and you AND your chapter will reap the rewards.  But don’t ever forget – it’s all about doing what is right for the members and the community in general. It’s NOT about doing it the way “we’ve always done it”, and that’s the challenge that every chapter leader must keep in mind.


Deborah HermanDeborah is “Your Recruitment Business Partner” at DH Talent Strategies, LLC in Pompano Beach, FL. She’s a blogger at, and an HR professional with 20 plus years of director-level experience in staffing, marketing and employment communications. Deborah is also proud to serve as a District Director for HR Florida State Council.


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