There is no easy or gentle way to say this. There are some good people who are members of SHRM but the facts, and SHRM’s own evidence, clearly indicate that not one of its 285,000 members is certified to a professional standard.

Here are the facts.

Fact 1. SHRM appointed its first Director of HR Standards as recently as 2010.

Fact 2. SHRM then began a programme of developing global HR standards to be accredited by ISO (International Standardization Organization) under its technical committee TC260, which includes 51 participating or observing nations from around the world.

Fact 3. SHRM halted is HR standards programme in 2012 and its Director of Standards subsequently left his post.

Fact 4. The same TC260 programme is now continuing under the direct auspices of ISO. The Secretary is SHRM’s ex-Director of HR Standards and the Chair of the Committee is a senior SHRM member.

Fact 5. TC260 does not understand the difference between an ‘HR metric’ and a professional standard. Its first ‘standard’, ‘Cost per hire’, has no reference point to a standard of human value.

Fact 6. If SHRM fails to acknowledge and fix Fact 5. its entire membership will remain without professional certification to underpin its practice.

Fact 7. The present CEO of SHRM will be retiring at the end of 2017. If SHRM is to resolve this existential crisis it will need a very strong leader who not only understands professional HR standards, in terms of their human and organizational value, but is prepared to take on the challenge of convincing its membership that they will have to move up to an entirely new level of professionalism.

Organizational Change Practitioners Linkedin Group

One month ago, MI posted a question on this group under the heading Professional standards in organizational change, asking “… is anyone interested in helping MI to set global standards of what professional organizational change management means in practice?”  This particular group was chosen because maturity is about constant organizational change towards a clear goal of maximum societal value through people. MI’s standard, therefore, is based on every management metric being linked to value creation or value destruction.

There is evidence that this group contains some, among its 60,000 members, who show signs of evidence based professionalism. Moreover, the group owner runs it with integrity and an open mind; but she cannot guarantee the professionalism of the membership unless and until the group makes a conscious decision to abide by common, professional standards. Once the standards are set it would mean excluding those who failed to follow the standards and the whole group would then be in the same predicament as SHRM. Conversely, if SHRM had already provided a professional forum for organizational change practitioners there would be no need for this Linkedin group to exist. Do doctors join Linkedin groups with members who are not qualified?

Again, there was no easy way to introduce these organizational practitioners to MI’s tough standards. In fact, we fully anticipated that the simple question we posed would be perceived as provocative and arouse strong emotions. We also expected its less professional participants to be unaware of their own lack of professionalism because there has been no institute around to explain the difference.

For example, one respondent defended his own practice by claiming he is “still sought after by major clients”. This is probably true but it says nothing about the value created for that client or their organization. The doctor who prescribes unnecessary antibiotics, to keep a patient happy, could make the same claim but this would be a contraindicator of their own professionalism. On another, linked, post one respondent stated “I’ll admit to not seeing your original post…..” before continuing to jump to conclusions based on this admission of insufficient evidence.

These are not the hallmarks of a profession. The total human capital of the entire populations of the 51 nations who are looking at TC260 need and deserve better than this. Without professional management their citizens’ social cohesion, commitment and the engagement of their intellect and ideas, will continue to be wasted.

This has very little to do with who runs the HR department. These professional standards have to apply to all board members, executives, functional heads and managers. If SHRM-certified CHROs are not professionally qualified in this field then neither is any CFO. The accounting profession is also sinking while it avoids confronting its own members with the truth that they are failing to account for human capital.  No professional body can do this on its own – we are all part of one system and that single system has to be based on a single standard.


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