by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Laurie Ruettimann and I love Human Resources in very
different ways. She is a consultant and
disaffected practitioner. I am a
professor. We have very different messages for our chosen profession.
From Dr. Stollak:
by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, June 25, 2013
One of the unique aspects of our school is that they have allowed me to create a course where students can attend the SHRM Annual Conference for course credit. Given the immersion into HR over four and a half days, 19 sessions, and the expo hall, students garner a much broader view of the HR profession than they would get in the classroom. Six of my own students along with nearly 400 students across the nation descended on Chicago for the SHRM Big Show
As one of their requirements, students had to do an analysis of the expo hall as a whole, as well as conduct in-depth analysis of five of the vendors. This analysis should include gaining a complete understanding of the functions of the organization being displayed, a brief interview with the individuals representing this organization, and a critique of their trade show booth.
This was easier said than done. Unfortunately, a common theme emerged, one that I have see all too often over 13 years of attending the SHRM conference. I'll let the students put it into their own words:
One of the frustrating things that I came across in the expo hall was that many of the vendors did not want to talk to us because we are students. You would lose their attention immediately after saying "I'm a student."
One thing I noticed about the vendors was that many of them were turned off once I mentioned that I was a student, with the exception of a few. They didn't seem as willing to try and sell their business to me.
Once the booth found out that we did not work for a company that could use their services, but rather that we were lowly, lowly students, we were sent on our way. I figured this would be a one or two time occurrence, but that ended up being a misconception very quickly. Over and over, we revealed our status as students and were quickly ushered out of the way to get the next attendee scanned and entered into a drawing for a vacation or an iPad Mini.
I was expecting more students to be at the conference and exposition hall and I think the companies were not expecting students at all. I could tell in their tones sometimes that they did not want to be talking to a student, but rather selling their products or services to someone who did. Many were surprised and happy to see students while others were looking past us.
I was a little disappointed in some of the companies within the hall. Now it was not too many of them, but there were a little over a handful of booths that did not take me seriously due to the fact that I was a student. For example, when I was approached by a representative, he or she was very friendly and began the conversation by presenting me with a question about the company I worked for. However, once I told him or her that I was a student, they immediately changed their tome. They simply pushed me on my way and acted as though they did not have the time of day to explain to me their company.....I think it would have been very helpful for many of those vendors to attend the sessions themselves. Many of the sessions I attended emphasized repeatedly the importance of meeting the needs of people, creating fulfillment, and showing respect; many behaviors that these booths did not show. It truly made me question their company's credibility and their performance.
Just as a reminder...these aren't students attending on a whim.
*They had to pay a registration fee for the conference.
*They had to pay for 5 nights of Chicago hotel costs (the student conference starts on Saturday)
*They had to pay for travel to get to and from Chicago
*They had ancillary costs of attendance, such as meals.
*They gave up 6 of their summer days to attend (Friday-Wednesday)....time that could otherwise be spent working to pay for school
These are passionate students who care about the future of HR. Several were so motivated by a session that they went to the SHRM Store to buy the author's book.
Hence, it was disappointing to hear, yet again, of such shoddy treatment by some vendors. They are your future customers. Vendors should have treated them that way.
As one student put it..."It made me not want to use their product even when I graduate."
by Matthew Stollak on Monday, June 24, 2013
Southern CaliforniaSadly, continuing wage stagnation makes this much more a fantasy than reality
real estate agentsrecruiters are using reconnaissance and back-channel networks to find housesapplicants that haven't yet hit the market. Some even offer bizarre gifts.
housing pricesemployee salaries are rising sharply, and there's a shortage of houses available for saleskilled employees available.
agentsrecruiters like Mathys are resorting to reconnaissance and back-channel networks to find homesapplicants that haven't yet hit the market. They're cold-calling homeownerspassive applicants with offers and targeting specific neighborhoodsemployers with direct mail. Some come bearing bizarre gifts in return for a listingreferral. One agent offered a sellerpotential employee the use of his exotic car; one of his clients offered free dogs.
And they're chasing so-called pocket listings,
homesan applicant database privately marketed among those in the know. The low-profile nature of the listings makes them hard to quantify. But agentsrecruiters and other real estatehiring experts say they've become common in the booming Southland market, where the median home pricesalary shot up nearly 25% in the last year.
by Matthew Stollak on Friday, June 21, 2013
Can one tell a person's management/leadership style by how they follow the "rules" of concert attendance?
Well, the SHRM Annual Conference has come to an end. Lots of great speakers, SWAG, fun, networking and tweets. However, the highlight for some was the double dose of musical greatness - the tweet-up at the House of Blues with DJ Jazzy Jeff on Monday, and the Tuesday night entertainment with Kelly Clarkson. Yet, for others, actions at the concerts tainted their conference-going experience. Let's set the stage (pun intended):
- Both events were "free" - One simply had to register at Eventbrite to attend the DJ Jazzy Jeff party. Meanwhile, the Kelly Clarkson ticket was included as a benefit of attending the SHRM Conference. Its not a tipping point on the conference attendance decision. No one is saying "I would have attended SHRM Annual, but Kelly Clarkson is the entertainer, so I'm not going." I've been to SHRM Annual 13 times, and have attended the Tuesday night entertainment only three times.
- Seating is general admission - For DJ Jazzy Jeff, it was an open floor concept - no seating whatsoever. For Kelly Clarkson, it was first come, first served. People were lining up hours in advance so that they could grab a chance to sit as close to the front as possible.
Now, one of the unwritten rules of attending a rock concert is that people generally crowd to the front when the music starts, particularly at a general admission show. Also, people stand during the concert, perhaps blocking one's view. It's to be expected.
But, it also got me thinking about the notion of the familiar topics of transactional vs. transformational leadership. Transactional leadership focuses "on increasing the efficiency of established routines and procedures and are more concerned with following existing rules than with making changes to the structure of the organization." Whereas, transformational leaders "engage with followers, focus on higher order intrinsic needs, and raise consciousness about the significance of specific outcomes and new ways in which those outcomes might be achieved."
Were those individuals complaining about the violation of unwritten concert attendance rules likely to have a more transactional view of managing people at work?
by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, June 18, 2013
This is the 13th SHRM Annual Conference I have attended. The routine is pretty much the same from year to year. So what, if anything, has stood out?
- Hillary Clinton - didn't get to see her. Closed to press.
- Blake Mycoskie - Nice inspirational message. Hard to screw up a talk about shoes at a HR conference. Definitely fit category 1 of Tim Sackett's 3 categories of HR speakers
- Jennifer McClure - Talked on the Future of HR and knocked it out of the park. Definitely book her for your future HR conference.
- Steve Boese - Excellent presentation on harnessing social tools.
- I probably have spent less time there then in any previous conference. As a professor, I'm not likely to be a customer of whatever product is being hawked. My name is not going to be drawn for a booth prize. And, I learned long ago that SWAG remorse is never a good thing.
- I felt bad for the booths in the 3500-4300 range. It seemed like they were the discount casinos in "Vegas Vacation" where games such as "Pick a Number Between 1 and 10" and "Flip a Coin" were being played
- I was disappointed to hear from students, yet again, that some booths treated their visit with disdain. These are your future customers. Treat them that way.
- It is still a heavily dominated female crowd. On three of the four shuttles I've taken, I was the lone male among 30 or 40 females.
by Matthew Stollak on Sunday, June 16, 2013
While I will not be able to hear Hillary's speech, here is what I hope she will say in her speech at the opening session of the SHRM Annual Conference:
- That for many, work and identity are inextricably linked.
- Human resources plays a crucial and integral role in helping individuals identify and embrace their vocation.
- That this can be accomplished while still making a firm profitable and delivering shareholder value.
Enjoy the conference and Happy Father's Day to all the dad's in attendance. Much love to my 14 week old twins, Micah and Mia.
by Matthew Stollak on Friday, June 14, 2013
You know it is effective, because you will have "Hot Drinks" in your head for the rest of the day.
I'm hoping that DJ Jazzy Jeff will be spinning a remix at the 80s themed #SHRM13 Tweetup Monday night (RSVP Now: http://shrm13tweetup.
Hope to see you at the SHRM Annual Conference. Off to Chicago.
by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The HREvolution unconference will be taking place on October 6th at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas (you can buy tickets here. In the previous five years, the conference has been incredibly successful, growing from a small uenknown conference of 50 attendees in Louisville, KY in 2009 to its 6th iteration with 200+ attendees in October. To explore why it has been so successful, I drew inspiration from Jonah Berger's book, "Contagious: Why Things Catch On."
In Contagious, Berger identifies six key components (with the acronym STEPPS) that allow messages or ideas to go viral:
1. Social Currency
To Berger, social currency allows to share things that make us look good. "Knowing cool things....make people seem sharp and in the know." One has to break the pattern people have come to expect.
The unconference experience of HREvolution challenges the typical HR event in that instead of being passive observers, attendees are encouraged to participate and take the discussion in a different direction than the presenter may have originally intended....this is a good thing.
Further, social currency makes people feel like insiders, due to the scarcity and exclusivity of the idea or event. The limited number of people that attended the first iteration of HREvolution in Louisville generated quite the stir and excitement that others wanted to belong.
Triggers are things that are at the top of our mind or on the tip of the tongue. According to Berger, "give people a product they enjoy, and they'll be happy to spread the word." One creates ongoing word of mouth, where people talk about it weeks later.
HREvolution certainly has brought a strong response from others. Excitement is shared on Twitter, Facebook or a blog about the experience. When each event is over, people want to know when it will be occurring again. Check out at some of the HREvolution experiences people have shared in the past, and actively recruit others to attend.
An idea becomes contagious when we care enough to share it with others. It creates what Berger describes as the "power of awe." For an idea to become contagious, it must focus on feelings.
HREvolution concentrates on conversations that haven't or aren't this taking place. Whether it focuses on eliminating of keeping the performance review or the intersection of politics, pop culture and HR, HREvolution creates high arousal emotions that drive people to action and inspire attendees by showing how they can make a difference.
Berger argues that "when we can see other people doing something, we're more likely to imitate it." This is the power of observability. When one follows the HREvolution hashtag, the conference advertises itself when one sees the passion and excitement that is being tweeted by the attendees, and those not in attendance. Just ask Steve Browne how he felt about missing it.
5. Practical Value
Does the idea help people help others? Does it provide news one can use.
Not only do people take back to the workplace ideas from HRevolution that can create actionable change, it is incredibly cheap to attend. Thanks to the kind people at SumTotal Systems, the premier sponsor of the event, 50 tickets are available at an early bird discount of $125. In addition, registering for HRevolution gets you a code for $600 off the registration fee (most promotional codes you'll see in the coming months will be in the $500 range) for the HR Technology Conference. It's almost like you get to attend HRevolution for $25.
"Is the idea embedded in a broader narrative that people want to share? Is the story not only viral, but also valuable?"
"Bifurcation." "Creepers." "Cinco De Wempen." People who have attended HREvolution soon develop their own jargon and stories of their shared experience. See, for yet another example, the HR Improv session was particularly popular.
In sum, I hope you see how exciting the HREvolution conference can be. I was one of the 50 original attendees in Louisville and moved from simple acolyte to co-planner for the past three years.
I hope to see you in Las Vegas in October.
by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Advice has already starting flowing in about what to do while in Chicago for the big event. In case you missed it: China Gorman provides some excellent advice about maximizing your SHRM Conference experience. Jessica Miller-Merrill provides you with the top 10 things to do while you are in Chicago and not going to the conference. Trish McFarlane has brought back her 10 Conference Commandments.
This will not one of those posts.
I will be attending my 13th SHRM Annual Conference, and below I, instead, will provide you, based on my years of experience, the things you do NOT want to do while attending.
1. Do NOT suffer from SWAG remorse.
The exhibit hall is going to open at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 16 and you going to be tempted by every vendor with some sort of gee-gaw or doo-dad that you absolutely have to bring back to the office. You may have already received an inch tall pile of vendor mail and you've mapped out your strategy for maximizing your haul. You may have even packed light so that you have plenty of room in your suitcase for the haul. It is free, right? You HAVE To grab it. Trust me, as a former victim, you will suffer from SWAG remorse. It may take a week....it may take a month, but you are going to look at that tote bag full of "goodies" you brought back and you are going to ask yourself why you grabbed that 7th t-shirt or 14th squeeze ball. Regret always tastes sour.
2. Do NOT bring a rollerbag to the conference
I have posted this several times since 2010, and people are still not listening. Rollerbags are the scourge of the exhibit hall. They get underfoot, and people are often unaware of the people behind them when toting it along. Don't be that person.
3. Do NOT get in the way
You make think the exhibit hall is huge, but the rows are narrower than you think. If you see someone you know, step out of the way, so that others can traverse the area more freely. If people have to walk around you, you're doing it wrong.
4. Do NOT use the phrase "Seat at the Table" or you'll be fined $100
The phrase "seat at the table" is officially barred from mention at the conference. If you say it, you owe $100 to the SHRM Foundation. If you overhear it in Chicago, tell that person they owe $100 to the SHRM Foundation. If a speaker uses it in a session, please tweet out the following phrase:
"(Insert speaker name here) owes $100 to the @shrmfoundation for saying "Seat at the table." #SHRM13 #SHRMShame"
5. Do NOT attempt to scalp your Kelly Clarkson wristband
Unless you're registered as a "ticket broker" with the Illinois Secretary of State, selling/bartering for tickets anywhere at an event venue aside from the box office is illegal. It is a Class A misdemeanor and you may be subject to a $5000 fine from the state of Illinois.
Note: I am not a lawyer, nor will I be staying in a Holiday Inn Express while at SHRM Annual.
6. Do NOT, under any circumstances, sing "Happy Birthday" to Jennifer McClure at 8:15 a.m. on Monday, June 17.
While it is Jennifer McClure's 32nd birthday on June 17, she would TOTALLY be embarrassed and would just hate it if a capacity crowd began singing "Happy Birthday" to her as she closed out her Mega-Session. Instead, she would appreciate it if you simply attended...oh, and some Diet Coke, cupcakes, and M&M's.
7. Do NOT text or tweet and walk
There will be 13,000+ individuals in attendance at the McCormick Place. When that General Session with Dan Pink or Blake Mycoskie lets out, you and all your new friends will simultaneously be trying to get out of the hall and head to the next session, the bathroom, or to grab some coffee. Please do not start walking and stare down at your phone. I am excited that you have the Twitter, Facebook, or Hootsuite app, and you are using the #SHRM13 hashtag. But, inevitably, you will run into the back of someone. This will not be one of those "meet cute" scenarios you see in the movies. Instead, you will likely be called out because that person you just ran into will see your name on your badge.
8. Do NOT wear your SHRM Conference badge at night.
As SHRM notes, wearing your badge outside of McCormick Place will peg you as a visitor from out of town and a target for crime. Even worse, many of you will likely heading to one of the bevy of parties, or, from what I hear, Chicago has a few bars. Drinking will likely lead to bad behavior on the part of some of you. Wearing your badge will likely make your name live in infamy as people mention your sordid exploits at future conferences. Try to drink in relative anonymity and leave your badge in your hotel room.
So, what else would you tell attendees NOT to do? Leave a note below, or tweet your suggestion to #SHRM13Festivus (h/t to Laurie Ruettimann for the hashtag)
by Matthew Stollak on Monday, June 3, 2013
Finding quality speakers to present relevant, up-to-date information to a HR audience
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
One of the leading drivers for individuals to attend their local SHRM chapter meeting or conference is the quality of the speaker(s) and his/his/their topic. In particular, individuals not only want to gain their PHR/SPHR/GPHR certification credits, they want to learn, be entertained, and feel that the dollars and time they invested are worthwhile.
Unfortunately, finding speakers, let alone quality ones, is difficult. As I noted in this space nearly three years ago, volunteers have to go out and find willing speakers (often at no cost) to provide a compelling hour or more of information to attendees. Further, volunteers have to go through a somewhat onerous process to get a program approved by HRCI at least 4 weeks in advance to ensure that it meets the requirements to provide recertification credits.
Let's revisit the math: With 575+ chapters offering 8-9 programs a year, along with a significant number of state and national HR conferences, there are at least 5000 sessions a year being offered. Even with some likely repeat speakers, there is a huge demand that needs to be met, and places a huge burden on the HRCI to approve a significant number of programs
There has got to be a better way.
WHAT'S AVAILABLE FROM SHRM?
To be fair, it must be noted that SHRM does provide a number of resources to assist chapters in finding speakers.
- In their volunteer leader resource center, chapters can contact the SHRM Speakers Bureau to find a member of the SHRM organization to speak on a whole host of topics.
- There is a short non-SHRM staff directory of speakers who have scored 3.8 out of 5 at one of the SHRM major conferences in the last four years
- A SHRM speaker program that contains just under 130 speakers
WHAT ELSE IS AVAILABLE?
- In 2010, the SHRM Chapter and State Council Leadership LinkedIn Group tried to create a list of top 10 speakers from their state conference. Everyone who commented thought it was a good idea, but it withered on the vine.
- Late last year, the St. Norbert Collge student SHRM chapter tried to crowdsource a list.ly list of good SHRM speakers (you can see it posted on the right), but it hasn't quite taken off.
1. Expand the SHRM Speaker Program. This list is a great start, but it is too small to meet the demand.
2. Have HRCI publish yearly a list of ALL programs approved the previous year. Ideally, it would be searchable by listing sessions by state, topic, speaker, credit amount (i.e., 1.25 hours), and certification level (PHR, SPHR, GPHR, etc.). Yet, even providing a link online to a pdf would be a good start.