SHRM09 - Why Hasn't the Bailout Money For HR Started Flowing From SHRM?
SHRM09 - The Great SHRM Hope - China Gorman

SHRM09 - The Only Thing Missing is HR Practitioners Actually Presenting ...

Pretty good first day for me at SHRM09 on Monday.  Started thinking that night about the sessions I attended, which were high quality.  One of the problems with a big show like SHRM is the fact that there are 20+ concurrent sessions running at the same time, so I decided to take a look at the program to see what I missed.

After looking at the program, let me tell you first what I didn't miss.  Just this one little thing, it kindaFoley jumped out as I looked at the names, titles and companies of the presenters...

I didn't miss the HR Practitioners...



Before I give you the stat, let me define what an HR Practitioner is in the mind of the HR Capitalist.  An HR Practitioner is an HR Pro who is actually employed by a company and supports a client group of employees within that company.  In short, they're practicing the HR craft inside a company in the classic sense - in a way that most typifies the average SHRM member.  Doing it on a daily basis.

That doesn't mean I don't think consultants, vendors, attorneys can't be HR Pros - they can and are, but they're advisers to the core of the industry - the practitioners who are charged with actual employees in the field.  Consultants, vendors and attorneys are highly regarded in our economy and bring tons of value. I might be one of them one day.

But they're not HR Practitioners.  They're not HR Representatives, HR Managers or Directors/VP of HR inside companies.  They're consultants.

So here's the stat - I went through the SHRM09 Conference Program and looked at the profiles of the presenters.  Here's the ugly stat I came up with:

Of the estimated 95 presenters through Monday, only 4 (four!) looked to be HR Practitioners holding a title like HR Rep/Manager/Director/VP inside a company.

Let me tell you why that's a big deal.  SHRM has backed models like Ulrich's "New Competencies for HR", profiled in past copies of HR Magazine and other SHRM resources. See the entire list of competencies here.  Since competencies like "Credible Activist" represent the top indicators in predicting who's a player in your HR department -- according to Ulrich, the Credible Activist is respected, admired, listened to and offers a point of view -- doesn't it make sense that SHRM would go out of their way to showcase the HR Practitioners nationally who are game changers by having them present to their peers at National SHRM?

4 of 95... I'm not even asking for half - how about 25% of the speakers (roughly 24 of the 95) be actual HR Practitioners who are world class?

4 of 95?  Can I get a study on this?  A task force?


Mike Haberman

Ok Kris, you have thrown down the gauntlet.... to yourself. Instead of being an attendee/commentator next year be a presentor. I have seen you speak (on camera anyway) and you are certainly wellrounded in HR. So belly up to the bar buddy.

Frank Roche

It's a real flaw with SHRM. At more prestigious conferences like WorldatWork, NASPP, or the Conference Board, that would never be the case. I make my living as an HR communication conference and have done presentations at all of them -- with clients. No one cares about a consultant's latest three-legged-whatever, they want to hear about stories that work.

It's a real shame that SHRM doesn't require 75% of presenters to be practitioners...and beyind that, I think they should be big league. It's why I don't go to SHRM -- very, very few decision makers there. Lots of vendors and some HR middle managers. Nice for socializing, not great for moving the industry forward. I put my money on the other ones.

Bonita Martin

As a HR Practitioner, I would like to defend SHRM on ths one. It's been a year of cost cutting, increasing productivity, employee engagement and layoffs for almost HR pro out there. I'm tired. Although I am proud of our accomplishments, I don't want to get up on a national stage to tell everyone that we saved $1.9 mil with our cuts. The cuts are people, benefits and services. When you are in the midst of it, it may not seem appropriate to talk about it.

I am, however, happy to talk about our accomplishments next year when we can reflect on how we made it through this economy.

Bonita Martin
HR Director
Phoenix Formations

I think this is a valid observation. One thing to note is that many of the consultants are former HR practitioners who have solid experience and deep functional expertise, now using it for a number of clients versus one employer.

Some of these folks are actually more credible because they can cite success stories from a number of different organizations.

I personally have objected in the past to many of the sessions being "fluff". I think there was a lot more solid content this year. And I attended panels with active HR professionals who were well prepared.

Barbara Safani

Wow! I think the practitioner/vendor balance is a challenge across many SHRM chapters as well. Who were the 4 HR practitioners and what topics did they speak on?

Kerensa Loucks

I attended a HR panel session at the conference titled Recruiting and Retention Through Adversity: A Pre and Post-Katrina Study. It was an excellent session with the panel sharing successes, lessons learned and best practices. I really appreciated hearing from current HR professionals.

The comments to this entry are closed.