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 !!


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 !!

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 !!


I’m Certified !!

Three years ago, I went through one of the most harrowing professional experiences that you can have in HR !!  I sat for my SPHR certification.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this trial, let me explain . . .

To get your certification in HR (either your PHR, SPHR or GPHR) from the HR Certification Institute (HRCI), you need to pass an exam which takes up to 4 hours to complete.  It is monstrous !!  When I went to take my exam, I entered a testing facility where you had to empty your pockets and put any personal items in a small locker before entering a room full of computer monitors.

The certification test is multiple choice, and you’re thinking, “Multiple choice?  That’s cake.  I loved those types of tests in school.  If all else fails, guess ‘B’ ” Remember?  Not the same by a long shot.  They have study classes that last 8 to 10 weeks just to get you prepared to take this test !!  I remember taking the practice exams between 40 to 50 times just to learn material.  (And those were old tests whose questions didn’t appear on the one I took !!)

The test allows you to skip questions, go back to them, line out answers you think are wrong, and then choose what you think is “right.”  Most of the questions have at least two of the four choices that could be right.  When you see “All of the Above” as an option, you start to get the shakes !!  How could ALL of the answers be right?

I finished the test with about 45 minutes to spare.  I reviewed my answers and made sure I was ready to “submit.”  Then in classic SHRM/HRCI style, when I hit submit a survey popped up asking me what I thought of the process and the exam.  I was ticked !!  All I wanted to see was pass or fail.  I rapidly hit “5” for everything was awesome, now please give me my results.  Then when I submitted the survey, the screen went blank.  BLANK !!  I thought I was going to pass out !!

Then . . . it said I passed.  I received my SPHR !!  I wanted to scream, but I thought the test proctor would taze me.  So, I hurried out of the room and burst into tears.  The proctor looked up and said, “You must be one of those HR folks.  Congratulations.”  Through my sobs, I thanked her, gathered my belongings from the locker and went home.

This week I recertified which means that I had enough professional development to retain my certification for three more years.  So, what does this story have to do with anything?

One of the keys that CEO’s, who were interviewed by SHRM, said was needed from HR in their organizations was that HR was knowledgeable in what the field does.  This was more than the administrative necessities of the job.  It meant that Senior Management expects us to be experts in what HR is, does and contributes.

When we yearn to be “part of the business,” the first thing we need to do is be experts in all things HR.  Being well versed in what HR does, and then gaining professional development to keep current and relevant is critical !!

It’s time for YOU to take that step that I honestly avoided for too many years of my career.  Getting your certification shows you have credibility and allows you to be in a position to take that step into a senior role when it arrives.

Harrowing or not – it has been the best thing I’ve done professionally and I encourage you to do the same !!