#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 rating.....to 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, LisaRosendahl.com, as well as co-founder and editor of WomenofHR.com

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

How Expensive Will #SHRM17 Hotels Be?

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, November 16, 2016

With the news that hotel reservations are now being accepted for the 2017 SHRM Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA, I bring you my 8th annual look at SHRM hotel costs.

After the most expensive SHRM Conference hotel cost in 16 years in Washington, DC (though inflation has made it 3rd most expensive, relatively speaking, has there been a return to "normalcy" in the price of hotels?

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 2017, so I use an inflation calculator to adjust costs to today's dollars.  So, how does the 2017 Conference in New Orleans compare to years past?

Cost of an Average SHRM-Affiliated Hotel (per night: 6/18-6/21; 1 room, 2 beds)Chicago (2008): $271.81 (sd of $31.29)
San Francisco (2001): $270.67 (standard deviation of $59.67)
Washington DC (2016): $269.59 (standard deviation of $31.85)
San Diego (2010): $259.67 (sd of $44.69)
Chicago (2013): 255.94 (sd of $21.20)
Washington DC (2006): $244.45(sd of $42.00)
Philadelphia (2002): $229.88 (sd of $61.46)
New Orleans (2017): $221.39 (sd of $35.56)
San Diego (2005): $215.58 (sd of $52.58)
Atlanta (2012): $208.28 (sd of $23.24)
Las Vegas (2007): $176.21 (sd of $33.96)
Orlando(2014): $163.69 (sd of $36.43) Las Vegas (2015): $144.22 (sd of $23.08)
Las Vegas (2011): $136.35 (sd of $18.91)

SHRM 2017 looks to be around the middle of the pack compared to other years.   Rooms, on average, will cost approximately $46 (+ tax) less per night than DC.  over the course of the conference, that'll be enough to cover a good meal at Emeril's or Commander's Palace.

Fortunately, with so many hotels to choose from (n=69), there are plenty of options available.  The median hotel cost is $223.50.  Twenty-four (24) hotels have a price below $200 + tax (compared to only two(2) below 209 + tax the year before), and the middle 50% cost between $193.50 and $259.

Given the above, it seems that New Orleans will be one of the more reasonably priced SHRM Annual Conferences to attend. 

See you in June.

Bill Murray and What Money Can't Buy #8ManRotation

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, October 24, 2016

2016 has not exactly been a banner year for my sports teams.  The Michigan State Spartans football team got blown up in the College Football Playoff by Alabama followed by its worst start to a Big Ten season since the 1990s.  The Spartan basketball team had an inexplicable loss in the opening road of the NCAA tournament.  The Green Bay Packers continue to under perform.  And, the Milwaukee Brewers?  Well, their season was over before it even started.

Yet, I still soldier on.  Why?  Take Bill Murray.

  • Extremely successful career with numerous iconic roles (Carl Spackler, John Winger, Phil Summers...the list goes on)
  • Rich many times over 
  • Enough cachet and mystique that he can do almost anything and can get away with it because "no one will ever believe you."  My friends and I have our own Bill Murray encounter at the Bears-Packers NFC Championship game highlighted in the picture taken above (story here).
Yet for all the fame and glory Bill Murray has received, at the moment below, when the Chicago Cubs clinched a trip to their first World Series since 1945, none of that mattered.

As wealthy and successful as Bill Murray has been, he couldn't buy a moment like that if he tried, which made it all the more meaningful to him.

Here's hoping you have your own Bill Murray moment of joy this week.

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

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, July 11, 2016

I'm heading to Las Vegas on Thursday with a couple of 8 Man Rotation folk (Kris Dunn, Steve Boese) 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 Thursday, 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.