What Matters to Me . . .

The past few weeks have been full of change in the world of HR with the announcement from SHRM and its new certification effort around HR competencies.  I have been reading about this on various HR blogs, and talking with many HR folks directly about this daily since the announcement.

I have my SPHR and am very proud of holding that designation.  I was like most when I heard the news about the change.  There was a mix of emotion, confusion and a desire for clarity of why, how, what, etc.  I happened to be at SHRM Headquarters when this happened as a member of the Membership Advisory Council (MAC).

Since the announcement, I’ve been trying to have conversations with people to listen to their concerns and feelings about what’s happening and the change that is in front of us for both HRCI and SHRM.

Here’s a different perspective . . .

Mel in GhanaThis week, my amazing daugher Melanie (pictured here) came back from Ghana, Africa.  She went there as part of a school class/mission trip for the University of Indianapolis.  While she was there, she and her fellow students had a boat sink with them on it, floated in a lake surrounded by gasoline, had a runaway truck run into their van (all of them are safe), walked through fire ants and also got to meet a ton of fantastic kids who loved being with her every single moment !!

When she was back home in our living room, I asked her how she was and she said, “Well,  I’m not sure.”  I was confused by this answer.  “What’s wrong?,” I asked.   “Dad, I know I’m back home, but I’d rather be in Africa.”  I was humbled by her answer.

After going through adventure after adventure that most would see as harrowing or disheartening, she was drawn in by the challenge, the environment and the experience.

What does this have to do with the changes in the certification system we’re facing?  Everything !!

What matters to me . . .

is faith, family and friends.  In the conversations I’ve had with HR pros, I’ve asked how they were doing first.  Not their opinions on this change, but how THEY were.  This has been an emotionally charged 1 1/2 weeks ranging from anger to disgust to frustration because of a lack of information and clarity.

I understand that and have experienced it myself.  It matters more to see how people are doing because I’ve heard stories about the challenges folks are facing personally, at work and with their employees.

There is so much life going on around us. In no way do I want to diminish how people feel.  I value my certification and my affiliation with SHRM as deeply as the next person.  It is, though, just one aspect of who I am as a person and as an HR professional.

What matters to me . . .

is passion.  I think both bodies have overlooked that this decision is more of a people decision than a system change.  Those of you who know me know that I am fiercely passionate in most areas of my life.  I appreciate that people are exhibiting this passion now, and I hope that both SHRM and HRCI see that.  It’s great that we care about this.  My hope is that this passion is also what all of us exhibit in our roles as HR pros all the time and not just in reaction to this change.  We work in a fabulous field because we get to work with other great people – who are also passionate !!

What matters to me . . .

is you.  In the end, and after the dust settles, the most important factor to me in the situation we are addressing is people.  That’s why myself, and others, have been reaching out to have conversations and provide context as well as listen to others.  It’s really practicing HR to work through a significant change.  I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to have the relationships to have these conversations.  I would encourage you to reach out and have these too.

I know I’m taking a chance by posting this and that comments could come that say ” I don’t understand.”  I do.  I’m trying to work through this to see solutions and a resolution occur.  I want to see both bodies, HRCI and SHRM, succeed.

I appreciate you letting me share a different perspective !!


16 thoughts on “What Matters to Me . . .”

  1. You brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for giving some perspective to the events of the last 10 days. My daughter just found out today she was finally accepted into the business school so she can graduate next year with her major in HR. She has seen me so wrapped up in the craziness of the SHRM announcement. I just need to love on her and support her instead of taking all of this too personally. Thank you!

  2. Steve,

    Great post. What a wonderful opportunity and perspective for your daughter. Her response brought tears to my eyes.

    I am also passionate about my HRCI SPHR and GPHR certification and have a deep belief in certification – my professional volunteer roles over the past 13 years.

    The deeper issue is one of ethics and I am so disappointed in SHRM. Having joined HRCI’s exam development panel in 2010, it has been amazing to see firsthand the lengths that HRCI undertakes to ensure the highest level of integrity throughout the entire certification process.

    There is no truth to SHRM’s implication that you only have to read a book to pass the exam and I think any certificant can attest to that. I have a friend who is known for saying she would gladly take the bar exam again over the SPHR!

    It is not so much about the change; it is the manner in which it has been handled. HRCI was totally blindsided and they still hoping to have open conversations with SHRM.

  3. Steve, I don’t possess any certs – not for HR, not for Sourcing, not for Recruiting. But I do have a driver’s license and have been driving for almost 40 years.

    Does this make me a driver candidate for the NASCAR circuit?

    When you go to a doctor, all you know is that they’re licensed to perform medicine in their state – you have no idea if they’re an A+ student or a C one.

    Performance counts the most.

    Same in sourcing/recruiting: The AIRS alphabet certs don’t tell me about a person’s performance in a real life situation and I’ve learned that assuming a certified sourcer or recruiter actually knows what to do in a real life situation isn’t a smart business move.

    Show me that either SHRM or HRCI will do something about “measuring” and communicating performance and I’ll do a happy jiggle dance.

    Until then, I’ll be a fan of great HR but remain tepid about certification.

  4. My friend, I stand with you in this perspective. Thanks for your comments and for the consideration you’ve given to this. Our compassion for each other distinguishes us from many other professional groups. This compassion is needed today.

  5. Steve,
    First I want to thank you for sharing Melanie’s adventure. What a smart, giving young woman. I also want to thank you for your perspective. It certainly has dominated my social media life the last couple weeks and as someone who has been against HR certification, it is draining to watch it play out. That said, I’m also grateful for Steve’s perspective in the comments above. Like him, I believe that true performance and experience is what is important. I have been in HR almost 20 years at large, well-respected employers and some mid-sized employers. Throughout my career I have NEVER been asked in an interview if I was certified. I have never had a boss encourage me to be. When I was younger (in my 20’s) and asked my boss and colleagues if I should get the certification, I was told it was not worth it because it measures book memorization, not what plays out in real, day-to-day HR.

    I greatly respect any person who achieves certification because it proves they can study material and pass an exam. That is huge and my opinion of those people is high. BUT, as I have interviewed hundreds of HR and recruiting pros over the years, the certification has never been a factor in a hiring decision. If they had it good, if not, also good. Personally, I have hired people without certification but with a Master’s in HR over any who had a Bachelor’s degree + certification.

    I have been promoted many times and have reached a high level of HR knowledge without certification and would not change a thing. I speak for the hundreds of thousands of HR and recruiting pros who are not certified and who never will pursue this.

    Thanks for allowing me (and Steve) to share this 3rd perspective.

  6. Change is hard and often confusing. All we can do is be patient, become informed as details are shared, and help each other along the way. As you said…”this is just one aspect of who I am as a person and as an HR professional”. Thank you for your advocacy of the HR profession and pursuit for clarification during this time of change.

  7. Steve, I appreciate the approach you’ve taken on this topic as the debate continues in the HR arena. Thank you for this post 🙂

  8. I remember the Fast Company article entitled “Why We Hate HR”. The events that are occurring right now keep bringing me back to that article. That article, as well as the three years of research that SHRM conducted regarding needed competencies for HR practitioners, demonstrated opportunities for growth for those working in the field. My belief is that SHRM’s move was not a monetary move. Based on communications that I have seen, SHRM will be outsourcing the tasks like test creation, etc. I believe that this move is a strategic move forward to help HR practitioners reach an even higher level of influence within our organizations.

    The HRCI certifications are good knowledge based certifications; however, there are many other areas that can also be considered for certification. What I am hearing and what I believe is that the SHRM certifications will be a good knowledge based AND competency based certification.

    I have nothing against HRCI; however, what I cannot understand is how this can be a surprise to HRCI? The new competency model was announced in the summer of 2012 to SHRM members. I would have anticipated then that a change of sorts would be coming and hopefully with the help of HRCI. Based on HRCI’s communication that included a timeline, it would have been obvious in December of 2013 that SHRM was serious about working to direct the future by acting upon what the research indicated was needed regarding competencies (which would seem to tie closely with certification). And if that wasn’t enough notice that SHRM was ready to take action, the resignation of the board member in February citing a conflict of interest should have given HRCI pause.

    I have high hopes for the future! Maybe it is because I have been through more acquisitions than I have ever desired to go through and the recent communications remind me of what happens in a major business change like an acquisition. Yes, the communications were rough but I don’t believe SHRM wanted to communicate this when they had to do so. I believe they communicated it early because it was the right thing to do. And as a result they probably were not prepared with a Q & A to immediately go out with the announcement. However, they did follow up quickly to try to answer questions with a Q & A.

    Folks, we ARE the Change Agents in our organizations. This will not be the first or last time we are faced with a dramatic change without the warning that we would have preferred to have had. We need to remember what is best for our profession in the long run. HRCI still exists and still is a good knowledge based certification. SHRM is working on stretching what we need to be as a certified practitioner based on the research that businesses have indicated what they need from us. I, for one, do not want to be left behind! I want to grow and I want my fellow HR friends to grow as well. This is not in any way saying that we are not super heroes now. We are! It can be very challenging to work in this field at times when we are the conscience of the organization that is also striving to be a strategic partner.

    SHRM is bending over backward to make sure that no certified individuals are left behind and offering all generalist with certifications the ability to obtain their new certifications at not cost for a year.

    I plan on keeping my HRCI certification. I’m proud of the knowledge that it indicates that I know. I also am planning on getting the new SHRM certification. I’m not afraid of change. I am a change agent and I will not be left behind!

  9. Steve,

    And I just want to say I really appreciate your blog about your daughter! In the end it is not our certifications but the influence and ability to get into the trenches an touch the lives of others in Human Resources that make our jobs so worthwhile! Thank you for all you do!

  10. I am passionate about certification because I believe it raises the bar for our profession. I can earn my JD, but I can’t practice law until I pass the boards. Certification does not guarantee performance in any field. In my opinion, SHRM’s sudden about face on HRCI and barring them from the conference reflects poorly on our profession and SHRM’s leadership.

  11. Well said Steve. While I certainly wish that HRCI and SHRM had been able to work together with one another like they have in the past, the issue that these changes bring is the one that most of us don’t like – Uncertainty. I don’t know how things will play out between these two organizations, but that is ok. I can take a little uncertainty…it is part of life.

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