My Annual Love Letter to the @SHRMFoundation #SHRM16

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, June 20, 2016

Dear SHRM Foundation,

We’ve known each other for years.  We’ve had our ups (your support of the HRGames) and our downs (the 247 Director’s Circle pins you sent me as a sign of your affection).  However, despite this rollercoaster of emotions, I’ve always supported you and been in your corner.  So, in this public forum, it is time to declare my love for you and say that you’re the best thing under the SHRM umbrella.  How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

  1.  I love your heart and generosity- you provided $170,000 in scholarships and awards in 2015.  These scholarships and awards are available for such things as certification, studies in HR, as well as for dissertations and the HR Advisor of the Year (I'm a proud recipient in 2006).  Further, you continually give many of the products that are the result of your efforts away for free to the greater HR community.  You have changed and affected the lives of so many in such a positive, affirming away.
  2.  I love your mind – You are the leading funder of HR research.  Over the past three years, you have provided over $1.8 million in grants to fund rigorous research (which is near and dear to my heart).  You are changing the face of the HR profession with cutting-edge products, such as the Effective Practice Guidelines, and the DVD Series.  Your Thought Leadership Initiative is setting the tone by identifying trends that will impact the workplace in the next 5-10 years.
Thanks for all that you do to enrich and advance the profession.



P.S. if you know of others who love you as much as I do, please tell them to stop by Booth 2640 while at #SHRM16 and contribute to make the Foundation even stronger.  If you are reading this at home, go visit the SHRM Foundation website at, and read more about the great things the Foundation does. 

The 2015 Season of the #8ManRotation is Here #SHRM16

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Often imitated and never duplicated, the 2015 Season (our 6th edition) of The 8 Man Rotation is here.   While it may be mid-June, the takes from Steve Boese, Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, Tim Sackett, and myself are just as fresh today as they were when they originally written.  The thing about sports and HR is the lessons one learn from the sports world remain timeless.

So, just in time for your trip to Washington DC for SHRM Annual or for that father who enjoys sports as well as HR, this compendium is well worth your time to download.

Check out the 2010 Season here

Check out the 2011 Season here

Check out the 2012 Season here

Check out the 2013 Season here

Check out the 2014 Season here

Q&A with #SHRM16 Speaker Jennifer McClure (@jennifermcclure)

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, June 9, 2016

Jennifer McClure is a sought-after Keynote Speaker and Executive Coach. She combines her experiences as a Business Leader, Human Resources Executive and Executive Recruiter with an engaging, entertaining and informative style to help Leaders unleash their potential and create massive positive impact.
Jennifer has delivered over 200 keynotes, workshops and corporate training classes, where she shares a blend of inspiration, “how-to,” best practices and strategic discussion based upon her 25+ years of experience leading human resources and talent acquisition efforts and working with senior executives. 
Jennifer is CEO OF DisruptHR and is also a contributor to CareerBuilder's Talent Advisor Portal. She also posts regularly on her own blog, "Unbridled Talent

Jennifer will be speaking at the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition on June 20, 2016 at 4 p.m. on the topic “Take Control of Your Personal Brand to Help Your Career and Your Organization Grow”. She will also be leading a MEGA SESSION – The Future of HR: Four Strategies to Meet Business Challenges and Deliver Maximum Impact on Results on June 21, 2016 at 10:45 a.m.

1. What was your first Breakthrough HR moment in your career? 

I’d have to say that it was actually getting hired into an HR job in the first place! :) Back in the day, there were no degrees in “Personnel Management”, but I took as many personnel and industrial relations courses as I could in college (just a few available). I joined the student chapter of ASPA (what SHRM used to be called – The American Society of Personnel Administrators) for the opportunity to learn more, and connect with HR leaders who supported the chapter. However, once I graduated, it was difficult to convince anyone to hire me into an HR Personnel job because I didn’t have any prior experience.

So I had to do what any enterprising young professional should do I used my network to get a recommendation to interview for a Personnel Manager job from someone who knew me, and I found ways to frame my education and prior work experience in HR language. I dealt with customer issues as a cashier (employee relations), interviewed and recommended candidates (hiring/selection) during an internship for a convenience store chain, and audited personnel files and policy compliance as a bank auditor.

When I got the job offer, I was thrilled! I knew that once I “broke in” to HR, I was going to stay and make a difference.

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

Absolutely! In fact, if you’re not having regular breakthrough moments in your career, and in your job, something is wrong. You’ve probably grown complacent and stagnant, or you’re in an organization that is not interested in growing. (It’s usually the former. Be careful about blaming someone else for your lack of personal growth.)

It’s critical for any business leader to remain curious about what is happening in the external environment (economy, industry, community, etc.), and consider how those changes affect their company and their own job. The world around us is constantly changing and evolving. We have to intentionally choose to keep up with/stay ahead of those changes. It doesn’t happen on it’s own.

I would challenge any HR professional to try at least one new thing personally (a networking event, reading a book contrary to their usual point of view, attending a conference or event outside of their “normal” responsibilities, etc.), and also at least one new thing at work each month. Breakthroughs often happen when we’re outside our comfort zone!

3.  You have a session on Monday, June 20 at 4:00 p.m. titled, " Take Control of Your Personal Brand to Help Your Career and Your Organization Grow."  What is the biggest mistake individuals make when it comes to personal branding?

For many business leaders, the biggest mistake I see individuals make when it comes to personal branding is thinking that they don’t need to build their own because doing so would take focus off of their business, and put it on them. I find this is really the case with HR professionals. They often feel that they should be working “behind the scenes” as a support department, and having a strong personal brand doesn’t support that. I completely disagree.

I believe that anyone who wants to get things done in their organization needs to have a strong personal brand. Who would you rather have working on your team as the HR leader – someone who is known as a leader in their profession, mentors other professionals, and has developed a reputation as a thought-leader or innovator; or someone who works mainly behind the scenes and implements other’s ideas. Both of these types of people exist in HR. Only one type is able to influence leadership to make positive changes and do what needs to be done to remain competitive for talent in a challenging global economy.

4.  You have an additional session (a MEGA SESSION!) on Tuesday, June 21 at 10:45 am titled " The Future of HR: Four Strategies to Meet Business Challenges and Deliver Maximum Impact on Results."  Which HR competency is the top priority that needs to evolve?

I believe the competency that elevates HR leaders into the category of a “business leader” in their organization is the Critical Evaluation. Multiple research studies and surveys indicate that human capital issues are some of the biggest challenges facing organizations in the future. As a result, HR professionals are uniquely positioned to deliver competitive advantage by ensuring that their companies have the talent needed to deliver upon their objectives.

The ability to think critically means that HR professionals must think about business needs and objectives first – and focusing on how HR can help with delivering upon them – rather than focusing on meeting HR’s needs first (compliance, administration, etc.) Strong and successful HR leaders will also be skilled at analyzing and interpreting data in order to make decisions and recommendations, versus reporting and tracking data against goals. For many, this requires a shift in thinking, but whether you’re an HR leader in a large, global organization, or a small organization, the ability to think strategically, and then guide your organization accordingly is what the c-suite needs from HR.

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

This will be my fifth year speaking at the SHRM Annual Conference, and I consider it a tremendous honor and opportunity to do so. I also very much enjoy attending the conference as a learner. I attend as many sessions as I can beyond my own, and always learn something new each year. I also enjoy meeting new people and making connections that can be meaningful beyond the conference experience, as well as connecting with old friends. For me, the SHRM Annual Conference is like a high school reunion each year – which you actually look forward to. :)

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

I’d recommend having a loose plan in advance. Look through the session guide and determine which sessions/speakers interest you, and make a tentative schedule for yourself. But, don’t be married to your schedule! If someone at the conference recommends another session, or if you meet a speaker that interests you, be flexible and change it up.

A rookie mistake that I see people make (and many veterans too) is not considering connecting with people at the conference that they don’t know yet as a specific learning opportunity. Challenge yourself to introduce yourself to people while waiting for sessions to start, or standing in line. Don’t just ask their name and title. Ask them to share a challenge that they face in their organization, a success story in their career, or what their biggest takeaway has been so far at the conference. Look for commonalities and connection points. You’ll only find those if you go beyond name, rank and serial number. If you leave the conference only having connected with people you know, or hanging out with your co-workers, in my opinion, you’ve failed.

7.  You love horses (and you can't spell horse without HR!).  What could a HR professional learn about their job by interacting with horses?

Now you’re speaking my language! I think everyone can benefit from more horses in their life. :)

Seriously though, horses can teach us much about communication and leadership. They can’t understand our words, so what we communicate through our actions and emotions affects them. For example, I’ve had experiences with my horse where I was nervous or frightened, but I knew I needed her to go forward and keep moving. So, I kicked and squeezed, but she kept going backwards. My trainer observed this situation and later pointed out to me that although I was kicking and saying, “go forward”, I actually had a death grip on the reins, and was pulling backward. My actions didn’t match my intentions. I see this often in how we deal with employees, and my horse helps me to be aware of these types of situations, so I can ensure I’m consistent with my communications.

8.  You are CEO of Disrupt HR?  What would you disrupt about the SHRM Annual Conference?

I think SHRM does a great job of making changes each year to keep the conference fresh and add value for attendees. The SMART Stage talks are similar to DisruptHR talks, and I like the fact that they provide an opportunity for many more people to share a message in a short-form format.

So, since they’ve got the conference covered, I’ll choose to disrupt the Tuesday night entertainment. Bring on BeyoncĂ©! 

Too expensive? Okay, I’ll settle for Maroon 5.

True Faith #HR Revisited - 1963 (Vendors and #SHRM16)

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, June 6, 2016

With the SHRM Annual Conference less than 2 weeks away, I thought the timing was perfect to revisit this post from 2011 about the requests of vendors to meet.  There are only slight modifications to reflect that its 2016.  Note...Since I wrote this 5 years, not one vendor has taken me up on it.

In 12 days, I will be flying out to Washington, DC for the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference.  One of the rites of passage associated with registering and attending the conference is the bevy of mail you receive from vendors hoping to lure you to their booth to discuss the latest in HR technology, drug testing, relocation, etc.   Occasionally, they entice you with the promise of a certain geegaw that you can't find at any other booth.  It would not be uncommon to receive 13+ pieces of mail a day in the 3 weeks prior to the start of the conference.
However, the pitch has changed.......

In 2010, at the SHRM Annual Conference I had the opportunity to be part of the 1st "SHRM Blog Squad," where I had the opportunity to highlight many of the conference events.  You can read more details about it here.  Thanks to Curtis Midkiff (@shrmsocmedguy) and Jennifer Hughes (@SHRMPress), I will once again be able to share my feeble thoughts on the conference yet again.  However, because of my registration as a blogger for the conference, I have yet to receive a single piece of vendor mail.

However, I have been inundated with e-mails from vendors asking me to set up appointments to meet with their CEO or hear about their latest product, presumably as a pitch to feature him or her or the product in my blog.   In addition, I have receive numerous calls from these companies following up on their e-mails.

As a courtesy to these vendors, let me tell you about my credentials:
1.  I am an Associate Professor of Business Administration.
2.  In that role, I make approximately .1% of any decision affecting the human resources of our organization.,
3.  In the words of Lloyd Dobler, in "Say Anything:" "I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that"

So, I may be the wrong audience to target.

The one thing missing is a little WIIFM: What's In It For Me.  What do I get out of taking time out of my busy SHRM Conference schedule to hear your pitch and feature your product/service/CEO in my blog?  (One company who shall remain nameless did offer a "blogger gift bag;" if it anything like actors receive at the Oscars or college football players get when they attend a bowl game, count me in).

Which gives me an idea......

In 2010, Morgan Spurlock released the movie "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold:"
In the film, he sets out to finance the movie by getting advertisers to sponsor the film, which is essentially a movie about how advertising is polluting our lives and minds.

Given how many pitches I have received in the past couple weeks, I have decided to become a sell-out myself:

1. Sponsor my blog

If it worked for Morgan Spurlock, it can work for me.  I am more than willing to rename my blog, "(Your company name) presents: True Faith HR."  I'd be glad to include your company logo in every SHRM16 blog post I write.  I'd include your company name in every tweet I issue.  I'd even include pictures of myself in your company clothing line.  As my blog and tweets will likely reach thousands of eyes, what better way to get your name out there.

Just make me an offer.

2.  Draw my name at your booth for your "Grand Prize."

This will be my 16th SHRM Annual Conference in a row.  In my previous 15 years of attending the conference, I have yet to have my name drawn as the winner of a booth's grand prize.  You lure me in with the promise of an iPod, laptop, or GPS, yet each year I leave empty handed.  I remain firmly convinced it is due to the credentials listed above; if I am not likely to buy your product, why give me the prize. I have this blog.  Why give the prize to Donna in benefits from Boise, Idaho.  Draw my name instead.  You can be sure as all get out that I will be talking about my newApple Watch on this blog and I'll be giving your company all sorts of props here.   C'mon, what better way to make your company look magnanimous that giving this here blogger your prize?!?!?

So, vendors, what say you?   I'm not expensive....I'll take an Apple Watch, Amazon gift card, pound notes, loose change, bad checks, anything.   Do I have to come right flat out and tell you everything?

Serious inquiries only!