Beyond the Exam !!

In a few weeks, I’m attending the SHRM Volunteer Leader Summit in Washington, DC.  I get to attend as one of the Membership Advisory Council (MAC) members.  I love volunteering in this capacity, and I just found out that I will be the MAC for the North Central Region again for 2015 !!  Very geeked about that !!

While I’m there, I’ll get a chance to take the tutorial and get the new SHRM-SCP certification.  I’m eager to see how this goes and add it as a certification along with my SPHR which I earned from HRCI.

As the new SHRM Certification comes to life, I’m seeing another wave of people making arguments for one certification versus another.  The discussions aren’t productive, in my opinion, because people are asking people to choose a side and discredit the other.

Here’s the side I choose.  I choose to be on the side of Human Resources.

My certifications are important to me.  I know how difficult it was to earn my SPHR and I value it – and will continue to.  People continue to focus on the exam, but certification is far more than that !!  The exam was important and a gateway to more opportunities.  The next step is on each of us personally.

Moving ForwardAs HR professionals, our focus needs to be on continuous professional development and moving HR forward.  To do this, each of us need to own our certification from each body we receive them from. These certifications don’t belong to SHRM or HRCI.  They belong to us !!

Secondly, we need to educate ourselves and choose why we belong and give our time towards any organization.  If you are a member of SHRM, ask yourself why you do this and if it adds value.  If you want to get certifications from SHRM, HRCI, or other bodies, ask yourself why you’re doing that and if it also adds value.

Stand up and own who you are as an HR professional !!  Don’t get caught up in the arguments.  Set a new norm of being excited about what HR does and what it will do in the future !!

You see, I’m very intentional.  I became certified because I chose to.  I joined a local SHRM chapter and took on a leadership role because I chose to.  The other roles I’ve been fortunate to hold are because I wanted to keep moving ahead in leadership to bring the HR community together at the local, regional, State and National level.

I continue to move beyond the exam and I want you to as well.  The present and future of HR excites me to no end !!  Rise above the discontentment and move forward.  It’s what we need to do now and make it our practice going forward !!


13 thoughts on “Beyond the Exam !!”

  1. Steve, you say that your SPHR exam was an important gateway – so why are you willing to show a certification that requires nothing of you but a tutorial that is impossible to fail? Sounds more like a back door. If a second certification is that valuable to you, why not take the exam?

    1. Jim – I don’t see the tutorial as a back door. True, I won’t be taking the exam. However, I think it’s okay that SHRM is recognizing those that are certified that they’ve taken the step to get their HRCI certification. I respect that you don’t agree with this decision to allow people access to the new certification program. I see the tutorial also as a gateway. With both of my certifications, it will be up to me to stay certified through professional development. I think maintaining your certifications is more proof of the value of what they offer versus the exam/tutorial.

      1. Steve, although we have differing opinions, I’m glad that has not diminished our mutual professional respect for one another. Before you dismiss the importance of an examination (obviously I’m not talking about the tutorial here), consider what the two leading accreditation bodies for professional credentials have to say.

        NCCA: “An assessment-based certificate program is a non-degree granting program that…awards a certificate only to those participants who meet the performance, proficiency or passing standard for the assessment(s).”

        ANSI: “Each assessment should be conducted in the same manner or in a manner that can be demonstrated to provide the same opportunity for all candidates….Standardized administration of assessments helps to ensure consistency and fairness. Without standardized administration and evidence that test administrations are comparable, many potential sources of error could result that would adversely affect reliability and validity.”

        Since Hank Jackson has indicated SHRM’s intent to pursue accreditation, it is ironic that one of the first things that will have to be explained is the existence of people holding their certificates without having ever taken the exam that SHRM is now in the process of creating. Put another way, the more people who accept the free offer, the more difficult it may be for SHRM’s certifications to achieve accreditation.

        This is why, as a valued, certified, colleague, I advise you to “look before you leap”.

  2. Now I know why you are a MAC.

    The sad thing is that many are accepting SHRM’s position that their new certification program is competency based, and HRCI’s is not. Recognize that HRCI’s position is that their certification programs have always been competency based. I talked to HRCI’s CEO, and she confirms that HRCI’s programs are not materially different than what SHRM plans to do. She suggested there may be as much as 80 to 90% overlap.

    Why then do we need two certification programs for our profession? It is confusing, redundant, a waste of SHRM members’ money — and came out of nowhere. What MAC asked for this new program — did you? What chapter or even one member asked for this new SHRM certification?

    Also, there was no SHRM advance notice or meaningful discussions with HRCI beforehand. And do not allow SHRM management and the Board to tell you that there were specific and meaningful discussions prior to SHRM’s announcement to establish their own certification program. There was not.

    1. Mike – I was as surprised as all SHRM members when the new certification program was announced. Now that it is being developed more, and is soon to be launched, I like what I see. I agree with you that the method of how this has been communicated hasn’t been good, and we, as the MAC, addressed that directly with the Board at the June meeting. I’m trying to see how this will come to life and will stay vigilant to see how it performs for HR professionals.

  3. Well said, Steve! Thank you for sharing. Congratulations on another year as a MAC rep!!

  4. Great post Mr. Browne! As professionals, not just HR professionals we are frequently confronted with changes, as related to our business, personal lives, politics, etc. It is up to each of us to figure out a way to deal with the changes/challenges we face. I agree that collectively we need to “rise above” the fray and get on with the critical issues facing us as HR professionals, so we can continue to help our organizations meet the goals important in moving the organization forward.

    Fred Eck, SPHR

  5. Steve,

    As a person getting ready to take the standard PHR/SPHR certification, what should one do? Will this new certification SHRM-CP or SCP hold more weight than a traditional SPHR?

    1. Jackie – I don’t think I would look at which certification carried more “weight.” I feel that being certified shows that you are willing to invest in your profession as an HR practitioner. You should choose the certifications that best represent you. I would encourage you to seek both your SPHR and your SHRM-SCP. This is what I will be doing.

  6. Steve thanks for sharing. What you say affects many people, and you have never shied away from saying things that were not always popular but you stick to your guns. I looking forward to visiting with you …very soon.

  7. Steve – Congratulations on being selected for another year on the MAC. When I served on the HRCI and SHRM Foundation boards, it was my pleasure to meet with and get to know a number of loyal and dedicated MAC members.

    I think you put your finger on why the new SHRM certifications have become such an emotional issue when you said you and your fellow MAC members were blindsided by the certification announcement.

    We were all blindsided. But it wasn’t a failure of communication as you suggest. It was a failure of collaboration. As you well know, the SHRM board has morphed from a body of hard-working SHRM volunteers like you to a collection of head-hunter sourced, compensated, glossy HR luminaries who have more in common with their CEOs than with the average SHRM member. This has resulted in decisions like the new certifications, which no MAC member ever would have recommended nor approved.

    A recently serving SHRM board chair once told me that SHRM needs to be run more like a business, and that is what they are doing. In the process, SHRM has lost sight of its role as our membership association.

    Like many others, I miss the old SHRM. I miss the commitment to put members first. I miss the humility of an organization run and governed by HR professionals, and I miss the authentic outreach where MAC members and chapter volunteers are consulted rather than merely handled.

    Best of luck in your role and your efforts to return SHRM to the organization it once was.

    1. Howard – Thanks for the comment. I want to see SHRM reconnect with its members as well. Trust me in that sentiment has been shared and I’m encouraged with the initial dialogue so far. I can tell you that the MAC has been consulted often. This didn’t happen on the certification announcement, but it had improved considerably since then. I think there is a ton of value in SHRM and how it will evolve. Hearing from engaged members is critical to hear all sides and opinions. I am geeked about moving forward both in my MAC role and as an HR professional.

  8. I think every organization goes through ups-and-downs. This is a part of the natural progression. It is people like YOU who help to shine a positive light on SHRM’s efforts.

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