Being Heard !!

I just returned from #SHRM14 in Orlando.  This was the best experience I’ve personally had at a SHRM Annual Conference.  I got in a bit earlier than the masses because I was there as part of the Membership Advisory Council (MAC) of SHRM.  One of the facets of this role is that we meet with the SHRM Board of Directors as well as the board of the SHRM Foundation.

Our job is to share the feedback, concerns, ideas and pulse of the SHRM Members.  It’s really an extremely cool volunteer position to hold because it’s like practicing HR for your Association.  We listen to our members and then share with Senior Leaders directly.

I knew that we’d have this opportunity and the other four great ladies I serve with had met with the Boards last year.  There was some anxiety because I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I’m a huge believer in experiential learning and this was going to be a great experience.

What I found was not only reassuring, but gave me confidence in an organization that I sincerely believe in because we were heard !!  When we met with both bodies they listened to what the SHRM members had shared with us, especially about the new SHRM Certification.  The feedback we shared was candid, emotional and forthright.  It was even described as “unvarnished.”

HR Business Case StepsThere was a key distinction about how we approached this opportunity.  You see, we made the business case for the feedback and broke it into the areas that fit all of the comments we received.  I happened to go to a session led by Jennifer McClure later during the actual conference where she shared the steps to consider when making an HR business case to Senior Management.  It looks like we followed the steps well because we gave recommendations for the Board to consider around the next steps of the SHRM Certification evolution.

I want to clear something up that I heard at the Conference as well.  I understand that people may not feel the SHRM Board hears people, but I know that not to be true.  This is, and will continue to be, a highly emotional issue.  The Board Members heard that directly and when we discussed the issue, it was on both a tangible and strategic level.

In the end, we took the first step.

I truly think that is how this work should continue.  People are demanding absolutes which is too narrow of an approach.  Details need to come – and they will.  Communication needs to be better and consistent – and it will be.  People need to stay engaged in the process as it rolls out – and they will.

You have to know that I am not someone who is trying to only tout SHRM.  This situation allowed the MAC to practice HR.  We listened to our constituents and then brought that data to our leaders wrapped in potential solutions and recommendations.  We acted as a bridge to not only bring things together, but to move them forward.

For those that know me, I am one of the most fiercely passionate HR pros you’ll encounter.  The great folks I serve with are also fiercely passionate business people.  We always yearn to be heard and taken seriously as HR professionals.  I can tell you that it happens because we experienced it firsthand.

I’m geeked about the level of involvement I experienced and also in working with the leadership of SHRM while being connected to its volunteers.  We have hit some bumps and shed some tears.  We have raised our voices . . . and we are being heard !!

13 thoughts on “Being Heard !!”

  1. Thank you for your service, Steve. Your points are important, and need to be heard. We have to be open minded about SHRM leadership, stop expecting magic bullets, and trust our leaders. Take care, and thanks for the courage of taking on the new certification controversy.

  2. Great piece on a touchy subject. Having been through some major changes about years ago with SHRM, one of those changes included the creation of the Membership Advisory Committee positions, I know the turmoil that big changes can create.
    I liked your comment on the MAC group acting like HR professionals in taking the concerns of the “troops” to the management.
    Hopefully the SHRM board and administrative staff will listen to the concerns and feedback of the professionals who make up our organization and those professionals will consider the facts and deal with the changes which in some cases will be necessary for the growth of the profession and good of the order.

    Your Roomie,


  3. Sir, you really think the Board “… followed the steps well because we gave recommendations for the Board to consider around the next steps of the SHRM Certification evolution.”
    I guess so since I see you have already dropped your PHR designation. I see no reference to it here or elsewhere.
    Another 130,000 plus HRCI certified HR pros are not so happy about the SHRM leadership essentially blowing up HRCI and its certification programming.
    The word I hear is SHRM tried to convince HRCI to dissolve its board and become a department of SHRM. And because HRCI’s board wouldn’t relent, SHRM developed a certification on its own and without HRCI, or member, or for that matter MAC input. When SHRM couldn’t control HRCI’s certification, they launched one of its own, plain and simple.
    Thus, the proud and effective three-legged stool (SHRM, HRCI and the SHRM Foundation) would exist no more. In fact the SHRM Foundation may be the most negatively impacted. Are you aware that HRCI donated greater than $17,300,000 to the SHRM Foundation since 1993?
    In my professional opinion, what has been done is tragic. There is no excuse why SHRM and HRCI could not have continued to work cooperatively. Given their testing responsibility, there is indeed merit in having HRCI be linked to but independent of SHRM.
    As one of only five MAC representatives, carefully selected by SHRM leadership, you should be careful. For instance, did the SHRM leadership seek your MAC input prior to or after their decision to compete against HRCI,? If it was prior to the decision, good you had your chance for input. If you learned of this decision after it was made, you have to question what your role really is — to represent members or to serve as SHRM’s mouthpiece?

  4. Mr. Losey – First and foremost thank you for reading my blog and for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it when readers step out to share their feedback and insights. I’d like to reply to your comments.

    I have not listed my certification on my blog. I am an SPHR, and I am like all certificants who worked hard to learn the information needed in order to pass the exam. However, if you had looked me up on the SHRM site or on Linked In, you’d see that I list my certification. Your response is reflective of how many people have responded to this issue from an emotional standpoint without gaining context before responding.

    I am disappointed that a separation has occurred between SHRM and HRCI. I do understand the impact to bodies such as the SHRM Foundation. I have been a SHRM volunteer leader since you were CEO of SHRM and have been actively involved in most facets and was aware of the funding that HRCI has given to the Foundation. When the MAC met with the Foundation’s Board to discuss member feedback and concerns, we gave recommendations for them to look at creative ways to further engage individual donors, corporations as well as the SHRM Chapter and State Council structure. I don’t pretend to think this will fill the gap that may occur (even though HRCI hasn’t communicated what it’s going to do), but there are other opportunities to look at funding options.

    I was at SHRM headquarters when the announcement of the new certification was announced. I was upset and disappointed that, as a member of the MAC and a volunteer leader, I wasn’t given a heads up about the change. I believe that SHRM made a business decision. When my company makes a decision to move in a direction that I didn’t have input on, I don’t like it and may be hurt, but as an executive within my organization I learn to adapt, understand and move the organization forward. I know that our members are upset and this was communicated directly to SHRM Leadership and the Board both from me personally and also from their collective feedback.

    I am disappointed that without even knowing me, or my peers on the MAC, you’d describe me as a “mouthpiece for SHRM.” That type of generalization is short-sighted and assumes that we are shallow people who are not leaders. It is also reflective of the base situation around this issue.

    This whole situation is a membership issue and not just a system change. HR folks are passionate about their certification as well as their membership in SHRM. SHRM has lost sight of this and we communicated this to the Leadership Team and to the Board. It’s just not good HR. I try my best through this blog, through my actions in my practitioner role and when I meet in person with my peers to emphasize that people should come first and not systems. I believe this was a mistake that SHRM made with how they communicated this change, but I also believe that it is something that can be identified, addressed and improved.

    I believe in the new competency model from SHRM as a Sr. HR practitioner. What I hope HR professionals would understand is that the letters behind our names are important, but what is more important is how we practice what we do after we earn the letters from the exam. Please note that I plan to keep my SPHR as well as add the SHRM certification because having these letters should be about professional development.

    We should use this situation to move the profession forward because that is how HR should be practiced within our organizations as well as within our professional Association. I believe that SHRM should once again adapt the stance of moving the profession forward and advancing the professional. The SHRM certification is only one component to do this.

    One last thing . . .

    I resent the implication that I was “carefully selected by SHRM Leadership” to be a MAC representative. You are wrong. The MAC is elected by the sitting SHRM State Council Directors – my volunteer leader peers. I, along with my compatriots, am incredibly proud to serve in this role to represent the SHRM volunteer leader members and SHRM members in general.

    You haven’t been on the hours of calls discussing this issue with members who are hurt. You haven’t had personal discussions with the SHRM CEO, SHRM Leadership and the SHRM Board to share the feedback from their concerned members. To imply that I’m some go-between is insulting. I would hope that if you asked the members of SHRM who actually know me, or have worked with me, that I do my best to represent them well.

    We disagree on several items Mr. Losey, but that is what generating dialogue is all about. I hope that your comment and my reply are the spark that is needed to move SHRM, HRCI and the profession of HR forward. Thanks again for your time and your opinions.

    1. Thank you for your comprehensive response, Steve.

      I share your disappointment that you and your fellow MAC representatives were not asked their opinion about what SHRM intended to do prior to SHRM taking this important action. I never suggested you were a SHRM “mouthpiece.” No professional would want wish to be a “mouthpiece.” However, couldn’t you represent the interests of the members, and better serve the Board by providing your input prior to such a major decision and not after? Some may suggest your support risks being taken for granted.

      I also want you to know that I am not commenting recklessly, without knowledge and experience. I have communicated with SHRM’s chair, Bette Francis, Hank Jackson, SHRM’s CEO, the HRCI chair and the chair off the SHRM foundation. Furthermore, as a former SHRM CEO, my phone is ringing off of the hook and the emails will not stop. I think I have a good handle on what is happening.

      Affecting almost 140,000 HRCI certified individuals, HRCI, the Foundation, member recruitment and relations and our profession, people describe what has happened as possibly the most serious issue SHRM has ever experienced.

      Call me anytime, if you want to discuss this more.

      Good luck,

      Mike Losey, SPHR, CAE

      1. Mike – I agree that the MAC should have been informed and consulted about the decision SHRM made both with its decision to have its own certification and the subsequent separation from HRCI prior to it happening.

        I am disappointed that this didn’t occur as our my fellow MAC members. I think the SHRM membership as a whole didn’t like how this was communicated. In my time with SHRM it definitely is the biggest shift I have seen or experienced.

        Thanks for getting back with me and I’ll take you up on that chance to chat. Any time people can have further, intentional conversations, good things can come from it.

        I do appreciate your concern and passion over the situation we are facing and hope that everyone involved can take the next steps we need to take for the benefit of the SHRM membership and also all other certified HR professionals.

  5. Thanks for everything you do Steve! It is complicated as they say and being negative never generates any positive movement forward. Wish we could wave the magic wand and make everything better! This too shall pass as they say and life will go on… Patience is a virtue and we must all try to seek first to understand, then be understood as Steve Covey would say…

  6. I read this carefully (twice) and didn’t learn much about the candid, emotional and unvarnished discussion that took place.

  7. Steve, like Beth, I’m very curious about what results we should expect to see from the discussion with the board you described.
    I was in Orlando, and was originally scheduled to be on the MAC agenda representing the HRCI board, along with an HRCI staff member to dialogue about what is happening. We were told that the meeting was cancelled, however I later found out that the meeting happened, a day later, without HRCI on the agenda. My colleague and I were both there and would have been available to meet at the new time if we had only been invited.
    Just curious what the MAC was told about the omission of the HRCI dialogue from their agenda?

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