mushroom coffee

HR blogging used to be good. No, seriously, like ’86 Lakers good. There was Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and a few other guys who’s names I don’t remember. And, just like the ’86 Lakers, the old-school HR bloggers played like a team that wanted to win.

But then, just like every Hollywood sports story, people got greedy. Some HR bloggers wanted fame, some wanted money, and some just wanted to start an IT staffing firm down in Alabama.

One thing is for certain about the world famous HR bloggers: at some point, they stopped playing like the ’86 Lakers and started playing like the 2016 Lakers, which was a total disaster.

Just when you think they had a chance, they blew it by being themselves and playing for the wrong reasons. You can’t have a team that dominates the league when everybody on the Lakers is trying to be D’Angelo Russell.

So I’m not sure what the future holds for the 2017 Lakers, but I know that chances are pretty small that HR blogging will reclaim its past glory. Most bloggers don’t organize and play as a team, there’s no respect for the dynasty, and nobody pays attention to the winning program that’s been built from the ground up.

They say there’s more talent than ever before in HR blogging, and there’s never been a bigger opportunity to be seen and heard. Between Forbes articles and LinkedIn’s Influencer platform, I’m told that the time for great HR content is now.

So is everybody just gonna stand around and be mediocre like the 2016 Lakers? Do you like losing? Are you seriously trying to win the petty keyword game by writing about Facebook’s jobs platform and the sexual harassment problems at Uber? Or is somebody gonna finally step-up and lead this community by saying something interesting and reigniting a movement?

Because nobody wants to endure another season of losing like the 2016 Lakers. Not in the NBA, and not in HR blogging.


  1. HR Blogging has always sucked. The problem is you’re spot on with your metaphor, here: even on a team that had Kareem, Magic, James Worthy and Byron Scott (and Kurt Rambis, my personal favorite), they still lost to the Celtics. The Lake Show was all about glitz and glamor, but in the end, all that talent got owned by Larry Bird and 4 random white dudes (eg Bill Walton). If HR Blogging is going to get better, we should probably try to find our inner KC Jones and stop trying to play Pat Riley all the damn time. My two cents (PS: I think in this example, I’m the 1986 Pistons).

    • Just because you lose to the Celtics doesn’t mean you’re not the dream team. Second place doesn’t always mean first loser.

      More importantly, the 86 Lakers are one of the top Lakers teams of all time, and, really, number one in my heart.

    • Way to soak up the grind space with the Pistons reference, Matt.

      You actually might be the 86 Sixers -

      You’re welcome – KD

  2. Laurie – I do think there’s a plethora of HR blogs now vs. the past when there were a few strong voices who founded the whole community of HR bloggers.

    However, I do think there are those that aren’t just mimicking what they observe from news/industry headlines. I am encouraged that there are those who want to continue to frame and shape HR.

    Also, I’d love to see those who were from the “dynasty” age to step back in and get reengaged themselves. Many of those great early voices have gone silent, and that is honestly just a loss for the field.

    Thanks for continuing to press the boundaries yourself. Just be reassured that a few of us are still pushing as well.

    • Steve – I promise I am not saying this to be snarky but I didn’t realize SHRM people were allowed to acknowledge that they read Laurie Ruettimann. I may have mentioned a blog post in San Diego and felt like I was “in trouble.”

      Generally I feel about HR as I do about HR blogging – we need to redefine our value proposition. And as an HR organization, SHRM needs to help its local chapters do this in a non-traditional way.

  3. Funny, we wrote about both those topics this week and they have performed well on the blog. I try very hard to have a POV that’s different than I anticipate the rest will write.

    HR blogging has changed for a lot of reasons. I think blogging in our space has changed more because readers have more choices and big vendors have big marketing budgets making it harder than ever to get people’s attention. I like my little community of writers and they are there for different reasons. I’d love to see Shauna, Joel and Stelzner write more or again.

    I think we’re older and we have more baggage which makes it easier to decide to play it safe.

    To you point about organizing blogs, I don’t see other industries organizing their blogs either. I can’t see what that would look like outside of an agency.

    • I’m sorry I missed it. I’m taking an internet break. It’s working okay. Less Donald Trump and HR blogs = good. But I’m texting more with my friends, which is how this blog post started.

      Side note on the internet break: I miss kid photos and animal memes. I have only heard about Fiona the hippo — haven’t really seen her. And I miss my daily dose of otters. But I’m feeling better about the world — and about our country — now that I have some distance from Trump.

  4. Nothing is ever as good once it goes main stream, like a great rock band. I saw the Police in a little hole in the wall bar called “My fathers place”, Madonna in another bar called “Escapes” with 2 dancers and a taped track playing the background music, and the Stray Cats used to play school dances in Massapequa – where they and I hail from. All before they hit “rock Stardom”. Blogging is not a new medium anymore. So pasturized posts are to be expected.
    But there is always hope for the next new blogger or medium to push the envelope. Look at DisruptHR for example…
    then there is also the hope that folks do encore tours well after their hits are all but forgotten (think Steve Miller – one of the best guitarists of the 70’s still touring).

    Izod shirts made a comeback after 30 yrs.
    maybe we need to wait a little linger for the comeback tour…
    Have a great day!

  5. Laurie, I think there are three reasons why “things aren’t as good as they used to be”

    1. There are only so many HR topics you can blog about. We ended up with everyone riffing on the same themes and people just got bored with it

    2. A misguided belief that writing a post about something would change it. Blogging might stimulate new ideas but the only way things might change is through people in the HR trenches actually doing something different on a daily basis. That’s hard and time-consuming

    3. Some bloggers got carried away with their own self importance. Let’s face it, most posts (not just in HR) are someone’s opinion with minimal evidence to support their view. Given we appear to live in an age when facts are irrelevant, it comes down to who can shout the loudest and they are often doing so for their own ends rather than some “greater good” (however you define that)

    Now I’m off to google 86 Lakers so I can get your cultural reference!

    • Writing about things does change it. I wrote about creating an HR blogging ecosystem. Three generations later, I’m yelling at my grandkids for not being grateful and prolific enough.

  6. HR blogs were (and still are) inconsistent, at best. Some were amazing, many were mediocre, and a few were flat out awful. And that was okay by me.

    What I appreciated was the community that was emerging when I first started writing back in 2009. It embraced me without hesitation. People encouraged me in ways big and small to develop my own voice. And they connected to to others in the space, many of whom I remain close to, virtually and in person.

    But it’s changed now. Moneyed interests came in, exerting pressure to conform to SEO structures and less controversial subjects took away the edginess. Multi-contributor blogs who were getting paid by ads and/or sponsors would ask writers to contribute content for free, with “exposure” somehow being seen as reasonable compensation for people’s time and effort.

    Lastly, bloggers who should have dropped out to allow others to rise up, didn’t. Nor do they seem interested in mentoring or advocating for them.

    It was good while it lasted.

    • Hi, V. Last point first — you think there are bloggers who should have dropped out and others who haven’t mentored? I hope I’m not one of those.

      And first point last — HR blogging was great for all of those reasons plus one more: those writers were early compared to other segments. HR people being brave and going first? It broke all kinds of stereotypes. I miss that.

  7. I started my HR blog a very long time ago, before there was money in it, before anyone was getting famous, and before I really knew what I wanted the content to convey. Some posts were great, some sucked wads. I wrote blogs because I wanted a chance to connect. Maybe something I wrote resonated with others and I would hear from them. And I always seemed hungry to read other people’s blogs when I’d spent time writing a post myself. The virtual world was grand.

    I can’t tell you how much I miss that golden period (2009-2012) where good humans were into the experience of blogging. Now, I feel like no one is into it.

    I think some of it is the noise. Modern LinkedIn is so crowded and isn’t centered on personal connection. My feed is full of unbearable detail. And Twitter just feels like its content is produced by Donald and a bunch of BOTs.

    Ok, this is sounding like it belongs in the song, “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling”.

    So tell me Laurie, can we bring back that loving feeling?

  8. Refreshing perspective! I’m trying to bring HR Blogging alive in Australia – it’s a hard slog when most are still typing away with their ego’s leading the way.
    To me, great HR blogging is fresh ideas, interesting perspectives and always something a little outside of the box as well. I love reading your feed – it’s ’86 Laker’s good.

  9. OK, so my take is … it’s not possible to serve two masters. HR bloggers can’t write about the stuff that pains people at work — the bullying, the back stabbing, the white supremacy, the sexism, the lying, etc, without paying a stiff price, and the other stuff, that Pollyanna stuff that assumes every leader is reasonable, competent, and sane when actually … oh Lord … don’t even get me started …The result is a lot of boring content, IMHO.

    I’m a late comer and not part of the old guard, but I like to think I caught the tail end of something good, back when it seemed it was possible, maybe possible, for HR to have it all. I loved writing for TLNT for a long while before I didn’t. I felt a part of something important, and I’ll ALWAYS look back on that time and feel warm and cozy. (Shout out to John Hollon!)

    That said, I haven’t died yet! I’m just waiting until I DON’T need a J.O.B (or can think of a cool pen name), and then watch out!!

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