You're Likely Not Going to be Happy about the Box Lunches at #SHRM17. Don't Complain About It.

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, June 12, 2017

It's less than a week to the SHRM Annual Conference in New Orleans, and I'm busy reviewing sessions and finalizing trip details, so this will be a short, but important, post.  Here it is:

Don't complain about the box lunch at SHRM.

This will be my 17th time attending the event, and I've been on the planning committee for the Wisconsin SHRM State Conference on and off for 10 years.  Do you want to know what's difficult to do?  Planning a lunch for hundreds, if not thousands, of people.  Have you ever had a fantastic, memorable, blow-your-mind box lunch at a conference? Unlikely.  Add in dietary restrictions, allergies, etc., and, for conference planners, it is a monumental undertaking, particularly when there will be over 12,000 in attendance this year.  I know you may have spent a lot of money to attend, but the box lunch won't make or break the conference.

Guess what? You're going to be in one of the great food cities in the world.  If you're not happy with the choice, take a break from the convention center, and explore the many great food options that New Orleans has to offer.

The box lunch is not going to be earth-shattering. Its nothing personal.

#WorkHuman, Artificial Intelligence, and the Voight-Kampff Machine

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, May 26, 2017

One of my favorite movies is Blade Runner.  Based on "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" by Philip K. Dick, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Blade Runner tells the story of a retired Replicant Hunter (Ford), who is called back to duty to hunt four escaped Replicants who have returned to Earth. 

What is a replicant, you ask?  They are bioengineered androids who are similar to humans,
but are stronger, more agile, and higher intelligence, depending on the model (and even exceed the uncanny valley).  The only way to determine whether an organism is human or replicant is through the Voight-Kampff machine.   According to the original 1982 Blade Runner presskit, the Voight-Kampff machine is:

A very advanced form of lie detector that measures contractions of the iris muscle and the presence of invisible airborne particles emitted from the body. The bellows were designed for the latter function and give the machine the menacing air of a sinister insect. The VK is used primarily by Blade Runners to determine if a suspect is truly human by measuring the degree of his empathic response through carefully worded questions and statements. 
So, what does this have to do with WorkHuman?
With artificial intelligence seemingly all the rage in HR in 2017, understanding the importance of work and employees place in it is more critical than ever. Luckily, next week in Phoenix, the WorkHuman conference will be exploring this relationship in great detail.  Take a look at the tracks below:

In addition, there will be keynote speeches from the likes of Chaz Bono, Julia-Louis Dreyfus, and Michelle Obama.

It is still not too late to register, and if you decide to come, use the code WH17INF-MST to get a $500 discount.  You don't even need to pass the Voight-Kampff test to attend.

See you in Phoenix. 

The #1 Thing You Should NOT Do at #SHRM17

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, March 20, 2017

It is hard not to read several articles a day bemoaning the performance appraisal process, and how it should be abolished. There have been a lot of reasons given for wanting its demise. However, I have discovered the real reason.  Much like lawyers make the worst clients, and doctors make the worst patients, HR professionals make the worst appraisers.

How do I know this?

I have attended the SHRM Annual Conference for 16 straight years and spoken to hundreds of speakers.  I have served on the Green Bay Area SHRM Chapter Board and read the reviews of every session.  I have had the privilege of being on the WI SHRM State Conference Planning Committee for eight of the last ten years and have read the attendee reviews of over 500 speakers. It is embarrassing that individuals who should know how to do performance appraisal appropriately, provide such poor and inadequate feedback.

Take a gander at some of these "gems" left by attendees and imagine yourself in the shoes of the speaker(s) receiving them:

  • "I hate 6:30 am classes." "Not to mention 6:30 is quite early." "Maybe have earlier in the day...I was tired and may not have retained all the material."  I understand that you are trying to maximize your recertification credits, but no one is forcing you to attend the conference, let alone an early morning or late afternoon session.  Further, how does this in any way help the speaker?
  • "Room is too hot." "Room was freezing." I'm sorry that the room temperature did not meet your needs, but, again, how does that help the speaker?  How will it help him or her improve the content?  Save it for another area of the attendee survey.
  • "Horrible Speakers." The session was a bit dull and boring." As a professor who gets student reviews every semester, I can get 29 out of 30 positive ratings, but the negative one is going to be the one I mull over and remember.  Unfortunately, there is nothing provided as to how and why the session was horrible.  Where is the information that could help the speaker do better? Would you like to receive this comment about you and your performance?
  • He wore a suit and was quite formal (for a session by an attorney on labor law)." "Her shoes were ugly." Again, how does this help the speaker? Your taste may be different than theirs. Further, if this is where you choose to focus on in your appraisal, maybe there are other underlying areas that might be more appropriate.  Unless there is something outrageously wrong with the outfit, it might help NOT to focus on attire at all in your feedback.
  • "Didn't realize the keynote and the breakout session were the same speaker."  The program was available four months in advance, and you didn't bother to read it before attending?
  • Two people evaluated and gave a 100% very satisfied a speaker who canceled at the last minute. C'mon, man.  Really?!?!?

I know many of you have prepped for and passed the certification exam with SHRM and/or HRCI.  You certainly spent some time understanding the performance management process.  You certainly know that you should focus on behaviors that employees (or speakers) have the greatest control over.  And, this is the kind of nonsense that speakers are receiving?!?!?

Hence, the number one thing you should NOT do at the SHRM Annual Conference is to give speakers bad feedback.  Praise when warranted. Be critical, but be constructive.  Help them understand what they did poorly, and how they could improve.

If you can't even do that well, given your training, please get out of the profession.  You are making the rest of us look bad.

Why You Should Hire the V.I. Poo Actress (@kaidasayss)

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, February 17, 2017

On Monday night, my wife had control of the remote and had the TV set on HGTV.  An episode of "Tiny House Hunters" (which is a misleading title - I keep expecting it to be about little people looking for homes that are height appropriate) was on.  I wasn't paying much attention until this ad came on:

Punch the porcelain??!?!?  Devil's Doughnuts??!?  What fresh hell was this?  I'm not sure I could ever buy the product, but I have to give credit to the actress, Sarah Kaidanow, who gives her all to the role.

I know nothing of her background, where she came from, her goals or aspirations.  I can only imagine when she decided to pursue a career in acting, this ad was not likely what she had in mind.  Yet, as Constantin Stanislavski remarked that "there are no small parts, only small actors."  Kaidanow carries that motto to precision.

Kris Dunn once advocated recruiting former Division III athletes as they pursued their passion despite the lack of financial support that DI athletes receive.   I'd apply the same approach to actresses like Sarah.  This role is hardly the stuff of dreams, but she embraced her part wholeheartedly.  My guess is she will bring the same dedication to her next gig.

So, here's to you, Sarah.  I hope this is the start of bigger and better roles for you.

Here's to You, @lisarosendahl #TimSackettDay

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, January 23, 2017

Tim Sackett Day began four years ago as a way to recognize those hard working HR professionals grinding away doing the real influencing on a day-to-day basis. As the hashtag suggests, the first recipient was the aforementioned Tim Sackett.  In subsequent years, Paul Hebert, Kelly Dingee, Victorio Milian and Recruiting Animal have all been recognized.

This we recognize the very worthy Lisa Rosendahl. A long-time HR blogger, I had the opportunity to first meet Lisa at the first HRevolution held in Louisville in 2009 (She shares her experience here).  She was kind, gracious, and I have been thankful for her friendship ever since.  

She is a model for all that is good in HR through her continued work with the Department of Veteran Affairs, as well as her writing at her self-named blog,, as well as co-founder and editor of

So, for all that is good in this crazy world, you'd be wise to connect with Lisa.  She will make you a better person, or your money back.

Connect with her on Twitter
Connect with her on LinkedIn