Try All You Want

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Soon, the glossy brochure with the great HR stock photos will arrive from SHRM HQ on Duke Street promoting the SHRM Leadership Conference to take place in Arlington, VA, November 17-19.   Often cited by the SHRM C-Suite as "their favorite" SHRM Conference, the Leadership Conference is designed for SHRM volunteer leaders to gain professional development as well as share best practices across chapters and state councils.

To SHRM's credit, they provide free registration as well as two-plus nights of housing for many volunteer roles, including Chapter Presidents, Chapter Management Professionals, State Council Directors, State Council District Directors and State Council Core Leadership Area Membership Directors.

However, left to fend for themselves are State Council Social Media Directors.   So, here are a few reasons SHRM should include Social Media Directors to the above group:

1.   Social Media Directors volunteer work is significant.
I've served as a SHRM volunteer leader for over 12 years in a wide range of roles (Area/Regional College Relations Director, State College Relations Director, State Foundation Director, Chapter President, State Conference Co-Chair), and I can say without hesitation that the volunteer work performed is on par, if not exceeds, many of those roles.  Such work includes, but is not limited to:
*Setting up and blogging on a regular basis
*Posting on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn on a regular basis
*Visiting and speaking to chapters about how they can utilize social media for their chapters as well as their own personal development
*Speaking about social media at the state leadership as well as the state SHRM conference
*Helping and mentoring volunteer leaders and chapters set up LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook accounts

Given the immediacy of social media, the Director role necessitates vigilance on a daily basis.

2.  It would legitimize the role
Kudos must go out to the concerted efforts of SHRM's own Curtis Midkiff in his capacity as the social media guru for the organization.  From the Bloggers' lounge at the SHRM Annual Conference to the Tweetups and blogtour at various state conferences, Curtis has demonstrated SHRM's dedication and support for the role social media can play for SHRM chapters.   Supporting State Council Social Media Directors would serve to continue the legitimization of this volunteer role.

3.  Social Media Directors are the voice of SHRM and the profession
Social Media Directors provide the PR for the chapters, the state council, and by extension, SHRM itself.   We are the ones trumpeting the latest efforts of the SHRM Foundation on Twitter.   We are the ones highlighting the latest piece of legislation impacting HR from Governmental Affairs on our blog.  We are the ones providing on-the-ground coverage of the state legislative conference or state HR conference.  We are the ones promoting the Pinnacle Award to members and non-members alike.   In the end, SHRM is shown in the most positive light.

So, SHRM, support you Social Media Directors at the SHRM Leadership Conference in November.

The Patience of a Saint

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, August 18, 2011

As mentioned in the last post, I spent last weekend in San Antonio at the Academy of Management meetings.  I left the cozy confines of my cushy desk in my ivory academic tower to enter the rough and tumble world of professor recruiting.  In one of the conference hotels, some 15 rooms were set up with an array of 12 tables in each.  Candidates waited out in the hall, as if it were some casting director's dream, and it was not uncommon to have candidates with whom you just interviewed return to the room a few minutes later to interview with another college or university.   So, after interviewing some 30 candidates, what lessons were learned over the course of three days?

1.  Interviewing is exhausting
After interviewing 12 candidates a day for two days straight with little to no break between candidates, major kudos must go to those who interview candidates regularly.   Keeping up the energy and positivity toward the end of the day took major effort (and a few sips of 5-hour energy)

2.  Fit, Fit, Fit is everything
We saw candidates ranging from full professors looking for their last destination to green PhD students working on their final sections of their dissertation.   However, we probably ended up spending more time talking about our school and its unique aspects than learning about the candidate him or herself.  Why?  Given the high number of candidates finishing up grad school, often from some top tier research institutions, we had to counter their advisor admonitions of the importance of high quality research as a criterion.   Given our emphasis on quality undergraduate education over "A"-level journal publication, our message had to be made clear, and the hope is we found a few candidates who realize the direction our school is going.

3.  Two heads are better than one
It was considerably easier to have two representatives from our institution doing the interview than a lone individual.  Not only was it helpful to keep one fresh, and fill in gaps about the job/organization that the other person might have failed to bring up or forgotten, but it also demonstrated the collegiality and camaraderie that we share at our place at work...which leads to....

4.  As always, you are the face of the organization
Given the importance that we place on collegial service that we stress not only in our mission, but in our tenure and promotion processes as well, this notion cannot be captured by a single one-on-one interview.   I believe the "chemistry" (for lack of a better word) that my colleague and I conveyed certainly left a much more positive view of our school (which was probably unfamiliar to those outside of Wisconsin or the Midwest) with those who interviewed with us, than those candidates who met with a single representative from another school.  Further, I believe we were the only table where laughter was heard on a regular basis.   Even if some candidates were looking at us as the equivalent of a "safety school," they have much more positive regard for us than before they entered the interview.   However, this was not necessarily the case for other schools, which leads to....

5.  Social Comparison Theory is alive and well....
Several cohorts of candidates participated and bonded in doctoral consortiums prior to the interviews taking place, so it was not uncommon to see them out in the hall huddled together discussing their interview experiences.  We had an opportunity to ask some of them about how the process was going for them, and they were more than willing to share some of their horror stories, including one common thread about one school where the interviewer was consistently demeaning the quality of her/his employer and engaging in epic acts of self-promotion.   The candidates were almost of the point of waiting outside that room just to hear from other candidates what outrageous things were said in that particular round.  Talk about bad brand management (and I hypothesize that when that school is unable to find any suitable candidates to hire, they will blame the low "quality" of the applicants).

6. ....but is competition?
One of the better parts of the process was hearing candidates talk up their fellow colleagues from the same school or group.  More than once we heard a candidate say that if you do not choose me, you should choose candidate X.  Very refreshing.

So, it is off to review the applications and on to the meet with the committee to determine second interviews.

Get the Message

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, August 11, 2011

This weekend, I am heading to San Antonio for the 2011 Academy of Management Meeting/Conference.  Over 6,000 academicians and scholars will be coming together to discuss the latest advances in management thought in some 25 subfields (HR, Technology & Innovation Management, Operations Management, Organizational Behavior....the list goes on). Put together all those Ph.Ds, the Riverwalk, and 105 degree weather, and I know you are guaranteed a good time.  It will be an excellent opportunity to catch up with old classmates and friends from other Colleges and Universities.

I have, however, not attended in a number of years.  I do enjoy getting my learning on, but, unfortunately, there is this status thing, a cult of personality if you will, going on that is rather off-putting.    Let me explain.   When I was a young academician straight out of grad school and attending the meetings, it was not uncommon to see "colleagues" look in your eyes than down to your name badge.  If your name or school affiliation was worthy, a conversation might be started up.  If you were deemed unworthy, the colleague moved on to engage in a discussion with someone else who was perceived to be more important.  Mind you, this was not an isolated incident that happened at a single conference; instead, it happened multiple times at several conferences.  Not good, and cooled me over the years from attending over the past few years.

So, why I am returning?  One of the side events of the Academy meetings is the Career Fair where in a number of big hotel ballrooms, hundreds of schools and hundreds of fresh Ph.D. graduates and professors looking to move will be looking for that "love connection."  To wit, I will be putting on my HR hat and conducting actual HR work.  I am the Chair of the Search Committee for a new Assistant Professor of Business Administration for our school.   I've been combing over curriculum vitae left and right over the past few weeks and setting up some 30+ interviews that will take place Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  The hope, of course, is that we will find a set of candidates that will be worthy of a second interview, and then a visit to our campus before the final rose ceremony.

I am looking forward, with a little trepidation, to see if things have changed as well as finding that new work colleague. 

HREvolution IV - No Phantom Menace

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In a scant two months, the fourth iteration of HREvolution will take place in Las Vegas, and I know what you're thinking....the fourth of anything stinks, right?  Movie producers are trying to capitalize and cash in on the public's good will toward the actors and series.

Just look at the following fourquels, and try not to cringe:
"Lethal Weapon 4"
"Terminator Salvation"
"Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"
"The Next Karate Kid"
"Star Wars - The Phantom Menace" (don't try to fool me by titling it "Episode One")
"Batman & Robin"
Any fourquel in a horror series (Omen IV, Halloween IV, Nightmare on Elm Street IV, Saw IV, etc.)

So, what makes the fourth edition of HREvolution more "The Unforgettable Fire" or "Led Zeppelin IV" than "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace?"

1.  Look at our cast of characters below:
Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt present their Talent Anarchy Hacklab
Kevin Grossman and Meghan Biro on Talent Communities
Craig Fisher and William Tincup on Tool and Technologies
Dr. Daniel Crosby and Dr. Colleen Sutherland on Change Leadership
Lance Haun goes Beyond Blogging
China Gorman and Dwane Lay on Technology that sets your HR Team Apart.
...and more

Scorcese and Spielberg couldn't hire a better array of talent.

2.  There is no 3D money grab.  The price of a ticket still remains at matinee levels. 
3.  Like any movie premiere, you need glitz and glamour, and what says glitz more than Las Vegas.
4.  In older times, going to the movies meant a cartoon, a news reel and a double feature.   HREvolution hearkens back to those days gone by by piggybacking off the HR Technology Conference.  Plus, as an added bonus, by registering for HREvolution, you will get a significant discount to attend HR Tech.

Of course, the best fourth is the Fourth of July.  So celebrate Independence Day early by registering for the fourth edition of HREvolution here