I recently contributed to a series at Voice of HR designed to give strategic guidance to SHRM for 2011 and beyond. I focused my advice on one thing - have a take, have an opinion. Here's a taste of what I shared at Voice of HR:
SHRM's full of smart people at headquarters. I know because I've met many of them in person or talked to them over the phone over the last couple of years.
But I digress. My strategic guidance for SHRM is to identify the 30 people in the organization who have the ability to share opinions with the world related to their view of what's going on in the business world. HR is included in that world, by the way.
Find 30 people who have professional credibility, strong opinions and aren't afraid to share them with the world. They can be from any part of the organization, doesn't matter. Get those people writing opinions and talking about their views on what's going on. Promote the hell out of them, see if they're better than the HR voices that are out there now.... Put a Huffington Post feel over the top of all that basic content."
The main reason I focused on the need for SHRM to start brokering in opinions is the fact that HR people get paid to have opinions, to have takes. HR people can't afford to say middle of the road statements like, "we're not anti-union, we just.... blah, blah, blah...."
The best HR people tell you what they think. If SHRM wants to find new energy, they're going to have to start having a take, they're going to have to model that behavior. They have the talent to pull it off. The question is, will their culture allow it?
Sadly, the answer is probably no.
Case in point, I got a note from SHRM last week that was intended to give some great news to someone like me: HRCI (the certification arm of SHRM) has opted to give recertification credit to bloggers like me.
Hold on, let's look at the fine print from the message I received:
"We plan to send out a release about the fact that the Institute has updated its Research/Publishing recertification category to allow for blog writers to get credit for fact-based blog posts. I thought you might be interested in hearing about it now, however, since you are an active blogger.
The new policy requires that the posts not be considered editorial-opinion, must be on a website that is accessible to the public and be at least 700 words long. If you are planning on coming to next week's SHRM Leadership Conference, it would be great to meet you and to get you in touch with <name removed for privacy>, as it was <name removed>'s team, along with a task force of HR professionals, who put the new policy together."
It's a classic case of not understanding what it takes to be an HR leader. Some smart people at HRCI have done a cool thing for people like me, and by allowing blogging to qualify for recertification credits, they've taken a step into the digital age.
But, by putting the restriction of "fact-based blog posts", they've shown one of two things related to what it takes to be an HR leader in the field:
A. They don't understand that HR leaders get paid to take the facts they're referring to, and have opinions about the best way for the business they support to proceed; or
B. They can't get their head around allowing that behavior to be credited in the certification process, which is a cultural, risk-adverse position that shows they'd rather be administrative than strategic.
To SHRM staffers reading this: I know you're sharp and smart. What can be done to change the culture and get the organization to start taking some risks and have opinions?