Could You Scout Talent 24/78 365 Days A Year? #8ManRotation

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, August 24, 2017

As 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 each day, and the need for talent management and acquisition becomes increasingly important, it seems HR professionals are continually trying to keep up; being reactive instead of proactive. Imagine, instead, you had to do the deep sourcing necessary not only to maintain your current lineup, but anticipate and be prepared for sudden changes that occur.  As always, HR can turn to the world of sports to find guidance (and solace) on the topic.  In today's post on The Ringer, Danny Kelly provides a deep look at the world of scouting for NFL teams.

In the process of putting together a roster, the draft is just the beginning — every club must look to outside sources to fill out the rest of the squad. The day-to-day task of accounting for injuries and suspensions, filling holes and adding depth, and keeping the team as competitive and talented as possible falls under the purview of the less famous and less understood counterpart to the college scouting team: the pro personnel department and its cadre of scouts. 

What advice do pro scouts give to talent maintenance that can help you succeed as a HR professional?

1. Know Your Roster

As Kelly writes,

Before pro scouts can even start to look to outside options — free agents, guys on the street, or potential trade targets — it’s essential to evaluate each and every player already on the roster, from the top down.

Performance management is crucial.  Pro scouts often use a color coded scheme to rank their players.  Blue might indicate a Pro Bowl caliber starter.  Red, a solid starter.  Orange, as Kelly describes, might be a "band-aid."

2. Constantly Update the Player Database

This might post the greatest challenge to current HR.  it's not enough to simply know your own have to know the talent elsewhere.

The duty for every pro personnel department is to create and manage a database of every player in the NFL, every signable player without a team, and a number of players from lower-level or international leagues. The term “no stone left unturned” is probably a motto for more than one team.

“You’re gonna be scouting the CFL, the arena league,” said Dan Hatman, who worked in personnel departments for the Giants, Eagles, and Jets who is now a director at The Scouting Academy. “When the UFL and XFL were around, [we scouted those leagues, too]. Anybody that’s not college eligible. We’d go through as many of those players as humanly possible — in addition to grading all 32 teams’ rosters every single year — so you constantly have updated grades on everybody who’s in the league.”

Who in your department is scouting other organizations, checking the movements of accountants or tellers across jobs, etc.?

3.  Keep the Shelves Stocked

What happens when an employee is out on leave or short term disability? Or has quit? Or, praytell, dies?  Are you ready to act quickly?  Kelly highlights how NFL teams encounter that inevitability:

The initial impression may be that when disaster struck for both of these teams [Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles], the subsequent moves were desperate and random. But while it’s certain that neither squad wanted to have to turn to free agency and trades to address newly created roster needs, their reactions were neither arbitrary nor panicked. These moves were the result of months, and in some cases, years of scouting, evaluation, and contingency-plan preparation, and both teams were able to act quickly to deal with the loss of key players because of the behind-the-scenes work of the pro scouting departments to build what’s frequently called a “short list,” “ready list,” or “emergency list.”

Who's on your short or ready list?  Are you moving someone up internally?  Have you done the requisite networking and have your virtual rolodex ready to go?

4.  Exploit Roster Cutdowns

In the next two weeks, NFL teams are going to have to reduce their pre-season roster from 90 players down to 53.  This means their will literally be 1,200+ players (many of whom iwill be among the top 2,500 players in the world) suddenly available to plunder.

Are you aware of the available talent when a plant shuts down or layoffs occur in your part of the world?

5.  Win the Battle of Attrition

Do you interview candidates not necessarily for jobs that currently exist, but for when jobs might come free in the future?  The best NFL teams do.

To keep the ready and/or emergency lists properly updated, teams typically work out a group of free-agent players every Tuesday, when the rest of the team has a day off. “We’re bringing in guys off the ready list or bringing in guys as favors to agents,” Hatman said. “Say you’ll have an agent call and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got this guy who’s bugging me because he hasn’t worked out for a team for a while. Can you bring him in and work him out?’ He does that because every workout goes on the transaction record, and it’s one of those things. ‘Oh, you know, X, Y, and Z worked him out. Now we gotta go look at him. We gotta vet him.’ That’s what every department does.”

...and here is the money paragraph:
For some teams, the pro personnel team becomes almost an HR department. “When I became a director, I thought it was really important that I was around the team,” McCartney said. “I went to practice every day, I watched, I was around the players, I knew what the issues were. The outside world has no idea what’s going on in the inside of an NFL building a lot of the time. I think people would be shocked to learn how many issues there can be that they would never in a million years hear about. A football player has a mental breakdown. A guy’s struggling at home in a relationship, and some guys can manage that, others can’t. It’s relationships. They’re people. People have problems.”

These problems can affect a player’s availability during the week or on Sundays, and the team, at times, must make roster changes to account for that. “There’s all kinds of little things like that,” McCartney said, “and [teams] must strike balance between the short term and the long term.”

NFL teams know it is not enough to just look at the unique skills and abilities. They have to look at the employee has a whole and the environmental issues that may affect his performance.

6.  Rinse and Repeat

This cycle goes on year after year. And it’s always changing and evolving with new coaches, new players, new schemes, and new pro personnel. The methodologies, the scouting reports, and the ready lists must be continually updated and improved.  
The search for talent never ends....there is no finish line.   Are you ready to do the same for your organization?

True Faith HR Replay: Why #HR Should Care About the NBA Summer League #8ManRotation

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I'm heading to Las Vegas in two weeks with a few of the 8 Man Rotation folk (Kris Dunn, Steve Boese, Lance Haun) to take in a couple days of NBA Summer League action.  Worth revisiting this July 2013 post.  If you're in the area, come join us.
On July 13-16, I will join three of my colleagues behind the 8 Man Rotation in Las Vegas (we always leave one behind to keep it going in case something befalls the rest of us) for two to three days to catch some NBA Summer League action.
Why do we want to head to the desert in summer time to spend 8-10 hours a day in a gym watching exhibition basketball when those games don't matter?
Because, in actuality, the games DO matter....for those playing.   In his piece on Grantland, Steve McPherson describes what it is like for those involved:

These are guys who have worked their entire lives to be one of the 450 players in the top basketball league in the world. Guys who spent their whole lives being one of the best basketball players in any situation they ever found themselves in. And now it’s just the grind. They’re simply looking for their shot.
The ones hoping for that shot are almost universally flawed in one way or another: undersized or stuck between positions; not good enough at one specific thing to be useful to a team; dogged by problems we can’t even see, the kind of stuff many of us carry around.........
But for these players — who are among the top one or two percent of basketball players in the world — it’s their big chance. Not to become something they’re not, but to see their years of work turn them into what they’ve always been striving toward.

Those playing over these few days in Orlando and in Las Vegas are no different than the applicants to your organization.  They're polishing their resumes,  taking your work sample test, engaging in your role play or simulation, trying to impress you enough to take a chance on them.

For us watching, it will be passing entertainment...but for those involved, it will be all too real, with stakes that truly matter to them.

Three Takeaways from #SHRM17

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, June 22, 2017

I'm back from another whirlwind SHRM Annual Conference in New Orleans. I've attended for seventeen (17) straight years, so what did I notice in particular about this one?

1.  As always, the volunteers and SHRM staff once again did an exemplary job in putting together a worthwhile conference. Planning a conference is an enormous undertaking, especially of this magnitude, and is reliant upon a number of people working hard in addition to their full-time jobs.  That it exists at all is a minor miracle.

2.  People are never going to be pleased. The complaints have to be taken with a grain of salt, and expectations have to be managed appropriately. The typical litany of complaints I overheard are familiar from previous years:

  • Not enough actionable content.  Schedule yourself better.  The program comes out early.  The presentations are available for download ahead of time. There are not a lot of surprises. The SHRM blog squad put out 150+ posts during the conference.  The SMART stage and the #Take10 sessions provided a ton of great content.  The twitter stream was a blur. There were 900+ exhibitors ready to answer your specific questions.  You had 18,000 peers that you could have approached and bounced ideas off of. If you couldn't find actionable content, you were not looking hard enough. Further, the RFP for the 2018 conference is due July 15. If you think you can do better, prove it. 
  • Lines were super long for the bathroom.  Yes, they were.  Yet, many of the men's bathrooms were annexed and became women's bathrooms. Do you have a better solution? Should they cap attendance?
  • Events started at 7:00 am, and I was tired from the night before.  Go to bed earlier.  They've had 7:00 sessions every year I've attended since 2001.  The game is the game
  • There were not snacks at mid-morning or mid-afternoon.  Are you pre-schoolers?  Is it the responsibility of SHRM to feed you 24/7?  Pack some snacks to take with you.
  • Lunch was mediocre.  You were warned.
  • I had to wait in line for the buses.  The schedule is posted well in advance.  If you want to be closer to the convention center, book your room now (or when housing opens again in November).
  • Long walk to get to sessions/sessions were full.  Yep. Leave earlier. Do you have a better solution?
  • SHRM board members get prime seats at sessions.  Yes they do. Perk of the job. Want better seats? Get to the general session earlier.  Should SHRM start selling prime seats as add-ons to the conference registration?
  • Wi-fi sucked.  Yes, it did.  It was frustrating.  You survived. 
If any of the above are really deal breakers, perhaps the SHRM Annual Conference is not for you.

3.  Why do I continue to attend the SHRM Annual Conference?  HR is continually changing, and what I need to do in my job needs to reflect it. My tribe is there every year to commiserate, share their trials and tribulations, laugh, and learn.  I still get something new out of it each year, and that continually makes it worthwhile for me to attend.

    How Expensive Will #SHRM18 Hotels Be?

    by Matthew Stollak

    While the SHRM Annual Conference just ended, the SHRM Housing Office gave attendees a sneak peek into the prices for the 2018 Conference being held in Chicago, IL, June 17-20.  You, too, can make your early reservation for next year's conference (only good until 6/23...otherwise you'll have to wait until November) by clicking here

    So, how expensive will hotels cost and how does it relate to previous years? To examine this question, I look at selected SHRM conference brochures (i.e., the ones that I still possessed) over the past 17 years to see what it would cost a person to book a single room on a per night average.  Clearly, prices in 2001 will be different than in 2018, so I use an inflation calculator to adjust costs to today's dollars.  

    What do the results tell us? 

    Cost of an Average SHRM-Affiliated Hotel (per night: 6/17-6/20; 1 room, 2 persons) 

    San Francisco (2001): $276.64 (standard deviation of $60.99)
    Chicago (2008): $276.62 (standard deviation of $31.85)
    Washington DC (2016): $274.99 (standard deviation of $32.49)
    Chicago (2018): $272.47 (sd of $17.47)
    San Diego (2010): $264.39 (sd of $45.41)

    Chicago (2013): $260.91 (sd of $21.61)
    Washington DC (2006): $250.57 (sd of $43.05)
    Philadelphia (2002): $235.02 (sd of $62.84)
    New Orleans (2017): $221.39 (sd of $35.56)
    San Diego (2005): $220.80 (sd of $53.84)
    Atlanta (2012): $212.25 (sd of $23.68)
    Las Vegas (2007): $180.73 (sd of $34.83)
    Orlando(2014): $168.55 (sd of $37.51)
    Las Vegas (2015): $147.07 (sd of $23.54)
    Las Vegas (2011): $138.8 (sd of $19.26)

    SHRM 2018 looks to one of the more expensive options compared to previous years.   Rooms, on average, will cost approximately $51 (+ tax) MORE per night than this year's conference in New Orleans.  Add in the expensive hotel tax rate, and that's about the cost of two large Deep Dish pizzas at Gino's East per night you could have had as an alternative.   

    Complicating matters is the very low standard deviation (out of 53 hotel options).  This means there is not a lot of variation in hotel prices from that average, regardless of hotel quality. There are not bargains to be had currently (there could be more hotels added in November).  The five number summary also bears this out:

    Maximum: $305 (plus tax)
    3rd Quartile: $285
    Median: $274
    1st Quartile: $264.75
    Minimum: $235

    Seventy-five (75) percent of the options are more that $264.75.

    What does this mean?  Start saving your pennies.  The silver lining?  SHRM is in Las Vegas in 2019, and as the list above demonstrates, three of the four cheapest hotel options are located there.  You'll be able to stay at 5-hotels at a lower rate than most of the options in Chicago next year.

    See you in June 2019.

    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