Halogen Customer Conference Day 1 Elevates Conversation on Talent Management

Guest Contributorby Tim Mulligan | Posted | Industry Buzz

Halogen Customer Conference Day 1 Elevates Conversation on Talent Management

In this guest post, Tim Mulligan – Chief Human Resources Officer for San Diego Zoo Global — shares his insights and highlights from day one of the 8th annual Halogen Customer Conference taking place in Henderson, NV September 23rd and 24th.

Product announcements, keynote speakers, plenary sessions and more! The 2013 Halogen Customer Conference is off to an incredible start. I’m what you could call a ‘regular’ at this annual event and I’m always amazed at how each year tops the last. The keynote speakers are second-to-none, the learning opportunities are truly first rate, and as always, there’s never a shortage of fun to be had.

I was blown away by the new features announced this morning that will become part of the Halogen TalentSpace later this year. Both the 1:1 Exchange meeting module and the Halogen Myers-Briggs modules are really unique in how they can help improve communication and create more productive working relationships.

I was very much looking forward to Chester Elton’s keynote address this morning and he didn’t disappoint. He talked about how today’s high-performance organizations stand out because they’ve created unique cultures that drive results.

His 7-step roadmap to creating a high-achieving culture hit home with me. While I think we at the San Diego Zoo do a great job of fostering a high-performance culture, there is always room for improvement. I plan to share some of the tips and insights Chester presented with the rest of the management team.

The 9 faces of HR led by Kris Dunn

The 9 faces of HR led by Kris Dunn

I was introduced to Kris Dunn at a past Halogen conference several years ago, and since then have become a big fan and follower of his blogs, Fistful of Talent and the HR Capitalist (did you know he writes for the Halogen blog too?)

Today, he didn't disappoint.

Since I am about to begin the search for a new Director of HR at my organization (anyone out there interested in a crazy fun HR leadership role leading HR at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park?), this is one that I was very excited about.

I found Kris' new take on the 9-Box Grid of HR Leadership, gauging Performance vs. Potential, very innovative, and eye opening... The session caused some self reflection in seeing where I personally fit in his new grid...and interestingly (disturbingly?) enough, I seem to be a hybrid of Gandhi and an assassin.


And if I'm a Gandhi/Assassin, what kind of person should I be sourcing for my open HR leadership role? I don't know the answer, but am looking forward to following up with Kris for further insight. I really like his concepts of changing the Performance vs. Potential axis to instead address Knowledge Levels and Ability to innovate and drive change... If nothing else, Kris reminded me of the great Gandhi quote, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." And now I'm going on a hunger strike...

What is HR’s role in organizational culture?

To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to my 1:05 pm session. How many sessions have I been to in my days called "HR's role in driving organizational culture?" However, I was refreshingly reintroduced to the concept by Leslie Whatley, Founder of People and Change Consulting. Leslie focused on what HR's role in Organizational Culture, in terms of norms/roles, rituals/traditions, stories/humor, Values/Vision/Mission, Leadership/Governance model, Rewards, and Atmosphere.

Sounds like a no-brainer? Well, the session was much more than that. Leslie got us to consider what changes we could personally help instigate in our organizations...and why culture even matters in the first place. I also really appreciated the discussion on the importance of feedback, which she calls "the secret sauce" of culture...it ties right into our new implementation of Halogen Feedback Central. Nicely done, Leslie...

Executives take note…

For the third and final breakout session of the day, I decided to drop in on a session led by Halogen senior consultant Shawna McKnight. Shawna’s session was titled "For Your Executives: Holding Managers Accountable for Performance Management"...which for an HR leader, is a never ending struggle.

In her intro, Shawna stated that she hoped she'd be sharing some "conversation starters" for execs on accountability and performance management, which had me intrigued.

Shawna challenged attendees to consider: Do we have a clearly identified "purpose" for performance management? Good question. I doubt many companies do...but Shawna gave some typical purposes, namely: Compliance, Equity, Business Results, and Coaching and Developmental purposes.

For the San Diego Zoo, we use a mix of all of these purposes. Shawna stated that there is a "sad reality" in the business world: executives aren't always on board with the importance of strong talent management systems and programs.

How do we get execs on board? By making talent management about the bottom line, demonstrating tangible solutions, and keeping it simple (the most important element to my 100–year-old organization).

Making time for fun – for a good cause and just for the fun of it

As I mentioned off the start, Halogen’s annual Customer Conference is packed full of learning opportunities but not so full that there’s no room to have a little fun. Each year, Halogen selects a charitable cause and we, the customers, have the opportunity take some time out of our days to make a difference.

had a blast trying my hand at this year’s charitable cause — an HR/Halogen trivia challenge to raise funds for the Red Cross. And I wasn’t half bad, either!


The night is still young here in Henderson. I’m heading off to the customer appreciation party, which promises to make for a great evening.

Check back tomorrow for more highlights from the 8th annual Halogen Customer Conference.

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Learning Puts the Heart in Talent Management

Learn how connecting learning and talent processes can be most effective when key data points are shared seamlessly

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