HR Conference

From ‘Lean Thinking’ to employee law in the Trump era, Inland’s HR meeting covers a lot of ground


To be a newspaper human resources manager is to juggle a lot of responsibilities in a sometimes bewildering legal and operational environment.

Fittingly, this year’s Human Resources Management Conference—May 16 and 17 in Chicago—will tackle the urgent issues of the moment, such as the many uncertainties about the employment climate under President Donald Trump’s administration. But it will also look to longer term requirements for sustainability such as building effective sales teams and creating a culture of Six Sigma excellence.

Susan Davidson Talmadge, president of HR Catalyst Consulting LLC, addresses the team issue in her session, “Beyond Team Building: Using a systems approach to improve team effectiveness and impact the bottom line.”

This session will start even before the gathering in Chicago, with session participants completing an online assessment for a team they lead or one they support with HR services. The diagnostic report results will be delivered at the session, painting a picture of the team as a system. These reports, Talmadge said, “will be utilized to better understand how to compare their view of the teams strengths and weaknesses to a proven model of team effectiveness.” 

At the end of the session, she added, attendees will leave with ideas and actions they can utilize to make their teams more effective. 

Optimum effectiveness is the goal of the subject of another session planned for the HR conference: “The Basics of Lean Thinking and Six Sigma.” 

Six Sigma, of course, was a technique first developed by Motorola to quickly identify and fix defects in its manufacturing processes, and Lean was Toyota’s system for redesigning manufacturing processes to achieve consistency and eliminate waste. 

But as businesses as disparate as law firms and DIY big box retailers have found, Lean Six Sigma can work essentially anywhere. This session will review the origins and philosophy of Lean Six Sigma—and its application for HR professionals in the media industry. 

This emphasis on excellence continues with a session on employer branding, and its implications for the HR department. 

The most popular session year after year—a legal briefing by the prominent law firm Seyfarth, Shaw LLP—returns with an especially timely look at how the Trump administration will affect the newspaper industry’s perennial HR issues.

This conference’s legal overview will include these topics:

A Trump administration overview: A 30,000-foot look at the challenges and opportunities the new administration brings. 

Pay Equity: Will there be a retreat on this issue—and what will be the employee blowback if that’s what happens? 

Health Care: What’s ahead, especially after the setback on “repeal and replacement.” 

Immigration: The impact for newspaper independent carriers

EEO Issues: Fewer reports or more hassles from unforeseen players? 

Union Organizing: Will we see a retreat in the face of the new administration’s policies—or a redoubling of unionizing efforts? 

Again this year, the HR conference will wrap up with a group discussion sharing best practices—with Inland Key Takeaways provided for every attendee. The likely topics this time: pensions, 401 Ks, deferred benefits, performance evaluations in light of wage freezes, managing your sales force, integrating staffs after consolidation, work force reductions—and whatever topics attendees want to discuss. 

Inland’s Human Resources Management Conference is the only conference devoted to the unique challenges of being an HR manager in the fast-moving, ever-changing newspaper industry. Its an unique opportunity to meet with HR management peers and experts.