Eleven Things Attendees Should NOT Be Doing at #SHRM16

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, May 31, 2016

In less than a month, individuals will be heading to Washington DC to attend the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference.  This will be my 16th straight SHRM Annual Conference, and, based on my years of experience, here are the things you do NOT want to do while attending.

1.  Do NOT avoid drinking water
AccuWeather predicts temperatures in the high 80s/low 90s (Farenheit) during the conference.  Given the significant amount of walking you're likely to do as well as the arctic temperatures inside the convention center to counteract the heat, you'll need all the H20 you can handle.  Bring a portable water bottle and keep it filled and by your side at all times.

2.  Do NOT suffer from SWAG remorse.

The exhibit hall is going to open at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 19 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 all the giveaways.  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.

3.   Do NOT just attend the sessions

You're in the nation's capital.  While there is much to learn in the convention center, your broader education can take place outside its walls.  You have the Smithsonian as well as the Air & Space Museum and the Newseum.  And, of course, you have the sights.  The Washington Monument.  The Lincoln Memorial.  I prefer the Jefferson Memorial....the Weezy Jefferson Memorial, that is.

Such a good husband to George.
4. Do NOT climb the fence outside the White House

Just a suggestion.

5.  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.
6. 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.

7.  Do NOT be Gwyneth Paltrow in "Contagion"

I know you are excited to be going to Washington, DC, and hanging with 12,000+ of your favorite HR friends.  You may have already spent significant dollars on travel, hotel, etc.  However, if you are even remotely close to being ill, please consider staying home.  It seems I get ill once every couple of years, and most likely I caught something from a sick person.  So, do not be patient zero.    

8.  Do NOT buy your coffee at the Convention Center

I know those vendors have paid high rent and are trying to earn a buck.  However, the lines will rival that of the TSA as you fly to DC.  Get your caffeine fix at your hotel.  Also, the Convention Center is located near a number of cafes.
9.  Do NOT text or tweet and walk

There will be 12,000+ individuals in attendance.  When that General Session with Amy Cuddy or Mike Rowe 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 #SHRM16 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.

10.  Do NOT rush the door when exiting your SHRM Shuttle

In the US, when exiting the SHRM shuttles, those in the front leave first and then the next row, and so on in an orderly fashion. Plowing from the back of the bus and pushing aside those in front of you is bad manners. You know we're living in a society...we're suppose to act in a civilized way.
11.  Do NOT wear your SHRM Conference badge at night.

As SHRM notes, wearing your badge outside of the convention center 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 that are out there.  Bad behavior might ensue.  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.  Sight see, but do NOT be a sight seen. 

So, what else would you tell attendees NOT to do?  Leave a note below, or tweet your suggestion to #SHRM16Festivus.  

Q&A with #SHRM16 Speaker Steve Browne (@sbrownehr)

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Steve Browne is the Executive Director of Human Resources for LaRosa's, Inc. — a regional Pizzeria restaurant chain in Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southwest Indiana with 18 locations and over 1,200 Team Members. Steve has been a human resources professional for 25+ years and has worked in the Manufacturing, Consumer Products, and Professional Services industries. Additionally, Steve is a former State Director for Ohio SHRM and serves as a member of the SHRM Board of Directors. Steve facilitates a monthly HR Roundtable in Cincinnati and runs an internet message board for HR professionals that reaches 6,000 + people globally on a weekly basis.  Steve is also a contributor to CareerBuilder's Talent Advisor Portal and posts regularly on his own blog, "Everyday People."  Steve is also a HUGE U2 fan.

On Tuesday, June 21, Steve will be presenting a MEGA SESSION at the SHRM Annual Conference in Washington D.C. titled, "HR on Purpose! Five Ways to Own, Lead and Integrate HR Throughout Your Organization."

What was your first Breakthrough HR moment in your career? 

My first breakthrough moment in HR was in my 2nd HR job. It was an HR generalist role and the owner of the company I joined sat me down on my first day and told me I needed to memorize the names and jobs of everyone in the organization in 30 days. He said that he and I would sit down on the 30th day exactly and he would quiz me. If I missed one person, I would be fired.

On the 30th day we sat down and he began to quiz me. We had over 200 employees at 3 plants (one out of state) and a corporate office. He quizzed me for almost an hour !! I didn’t miss one. At the end he asked me what I thought of his exercise. I told him it was helpful because I learned who our people were and what they did. Here’s the breakthrough moment . . .

He said, “I did this so you’d know that the only reason you’re here is my people. If you ever forget that, I don’t need you.”

This has been my approach to HR ever since !!

                       Song: "One" - U2 and Mary J. Blige

Is it possible for someone with a long career to still have breakthrough HR moments?  If so, how?

Is it possible? Yes. Is it probable? Unfortunately in most cases, no. People in all professions tend to “settle in” after a long career. It’s easier, it’s had some marked success in the past and people accept it. I think this is a stumbling block for our profession. HR begs people to remain dynamic, engaged and curious. Businesses, and people, change every day. We have to remain alert and in touch with our people. The more we’re in touch with them, the larger the possibility that breakthrough moments will reveal themselves. The “how” for me is to remain vigilant and expect that breakthroughs can happen and I can be a part of them on an on-going basis regardless of how long I’ve been in HR.

You were recently elected to the SHRM Board of Directors.  What has been the most surprising thing you've discovered in taking on that role?

The most surprising facet I’ve found so far is the depth of SHRM as an organization. My experience to this point had some knowledge of the “whole” of SHRM, but now I get to see all sides of it, not just from the Membership viewpoint. I’m fascinated by everything that SHRM has to offer and need to continue to learn how people access things and find a way to make people more connected.

                    "Even Better Than The Real Thing"

What are 2-3 things you would like to see accomplished during your time on the SHRM Board of Directors?

First of all, I want people to know how humbled (and Geeked) I am to be able to serve on the SHRM Board. I don’t take this lightly at all. What would I like to see accomplished? Here are a few things . . .

  1. I’d like to see people who are SHRM members understand the value of their membership so that they are making a conscious personal and professional decision to belong. It needs to “matter” past the paying of membership dues.
  2. I’d like to see the Body of Competency and Knowledge (BoCK) be utilized as a professional development tool for HR professionals as well as be a vehicle for people to obtain their SHRM Certification. It really is an amazing set of competencies that can be applied throughout a person’s career.
  3. I’d like to see SHRM embrace HR pros at all points of their career and throughout their career – from student to retiree, from generalist to specialist, from consultant to vendor. At the same time, move the profession forward while maintaining the solid professional development they offer at various stages of one’s career.

You have a MEGA SESSION on Tuesday, June 21 at 2:15 p.m. titled, "HR on Purpose! Five Ways to Own, Lead and Integrate HR Throughout Your Organization." (which conflicts with my own SMART Stage session...go see Steve) Are many HR professionals not purposeful?  If so, why not?

I think many HR people are “functional”, but I’m not convinced they’re purposeful. I’ve found that doing HR (and life) with passion and purpose is challenging because it calls for an intentionality that is above being able to “do your job.” HR is vital to organizations because they have people. It boils down to people, and it always has. We keep trying to lead with processes, and that is limiting. I think there’s a stripped down way to make tangible, long-lasting impact in companies through HR. The session will hit on these things.

You've attended the SHRM Annual Conference numerous times.  What keeps you coming back each year?

First and foremost the reason I attend Annual is the people. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s real for me !! I love seeing friends and “regulars” who make the Annual trek across the country. I yearn to see the SHRM volunteers and chapter leaders because that has been how I grew up in SHRM. I know the time and effort that people willingly give and I want to make sure that they know that they’re making a difference for the profession. Thirdly, I dig meeting new people from all over the world who also practice HR !! It gets me out of a narrow frame of reference and reminds me that HR happens globally. I connect with new folks because I want them to know someone else “gets them” and what they do on a daily basis.
                                     "Beautiful Day"

What advice would you give to someone attending the SHRM Annual Conference for the first time?  What is the biggest rookie mistake you see?

My advice would be three-fold.

  1. Go to sessions that stretch you professionally so you can grow personally and also help your organization to grow. The technical sessions are good if you don’t feel strong in a certain area, but take a chance and really stretch !!
  2. Be Social !! – Make sure to connect with at least 5 to 10 people you didn’t know before attending SHRM16. Be intentional about it and get to know them and make the connections with them socially as well. (Twitter, Linked In, Snapchat, etc.) Go out to the social events and hang with people throughout the week. Don’t do the mad dash back to your room to catch some TV show. Be in the sea of people !!
  3. Check out the presentations on the Smart Stage. Great content in small bites !! A hidden gem of the Conference.

Rookie mistake ?? – Being overwhelmed by the sheer number of attendees, sights, sounds, vendors, swag, etc. Know your capacity and stick with it. Don’t try to do everything. Take the conference in portions, but dive deep into the ones you choose.

How many people do you hope to meet at the SHRM Annual Conference?

All of them !! Not a joke or an exaggeration. I would relish the chance to meet every person who wants to connect. I don’t want to be overwhelming or intrusive, but I do want to break people out of their Conference mindset that you’re there to just attend sessions. I’ll be at sessions and in the Blogger’s Lounge and in the Volunteer Leader Lounge and at the keynote sessions. I truly enjoy connecting people to others. It completely energizes me !! The more I can help attendees “humanize” the Conference, the better Conference I think they’ll have.

                    "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me"

"Ex Machina" and the #WorkHuman Conference

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, May 16, 2016

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the WorkHuman Conference in Orlando, FL.  Traveling also gave me the opportunity to catch up on a few movies (with 3 year old twins, my movie viewing has shrunk to one a month, if I am lucky).  One of the films I saw was "Ex Machina."

Are we human or are we dancer?
In "Ex Machina," Caleb Smith, a programmer with Blue Book (think Google with a 94% market share) "wins" a one-week visit to the home of the company CEO, Nathan Bateman.  Bateman lives in an isolated, luxurious outpost covering millions of acres with only a servant.  He has also developed the latest in artificial intelligence, Ava; a robot who Bateman wants to see whether she passes the illustrious "Turing Test" by Smith.  For those not in the know, the Turing Test essentially serves to distinguish whether or not artificial intelligence can pass for human.

The movie made an excellent companion to the conference and a similar test could be applied in the HR world.  What characteristics truly make a human workplace?  Words such as recognition, appreciation, happiness, presence, and mindfulness easily flowed from speakers and attendees alike.  Sadly, I didn't hear much about paying a living wage for employees as part of the conversation.

With that in mind, what makes a workplace human for you?  What would make it pass your test?

Quick Takeaways from Tuesday's #WorkHuman Conference

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I'm here in Orlando for the 2nd WorkHuman Conference (subtitled Even More Work and Even More Human).  Here are some quick takeaways from this morning's festivities:

The production has been top-notch

As somehow who has been involved in the planning of the WI SHRM State Conference for the past 10 years, I know the trials and tribulations of putting on a show.  They have done a magnificent job of being on brand, with quality facilities, good food, and stellar graphics for the presentation.  Even small touches have stood out, from a cookie/donut wall and coloring charts and tables, to fruit infused water and a holistic approach to the schedule.

Shawn Achor highlighted the importance of happiness

I had seen Shawn Achor speak before, and he continued to enrapture the audience in the ease with which he translated research into easy to understand practice.  According to Achor, it’s “the joy you feel striving toward your potential.” This potential extends beyond yourself to unlocking the potential in others.  As a result, the breadth and depth of social relationships are crucial to one's happiness.

We are still striving for answers when it comes to performance, recognition, and compensation

As Eric Mosley noted, clearly annual performance reviews are not working.  Similarly, lump sum bonuses given once have a short impact; less than six weeks.  And, compensation budgets for recognition continue to be tiny.  However, I'm not convinced more frequent, smaller bonuses are necessarily better.  Do $50 bonuses given 100 times over the year create more sustained motivation than a single $5000 bonus given once?  Does the 25th time one is awarded that $50 bonus have the same impact as the first, or are there diminishing marginal returns?