I recently returned from a Society for Human Resource Management conference in San Diego called the “SHRM Regional Council Business Meeting”. On twitter we adopted the hashtag #SHRMBiz. Those in attendance were State Council Directors from all 50 states, the Director Elects and the Workforce Readiness Chairs as well. In total, there was about 130 volunteer leaders in attendance.
There were several objectives but in my opinion one of the biggest things SHRM does is let all of the state directors and director elects meet one another and talk about their trials, successes and whatever else they have on their minds. The Workforce Readiness Chairs were in attendance this year as SHRM intends to make workforce readiness more front and center.
While there were many, many things discussed, there was one thing that really caught my attention at the event. On day one, Friday, the question was posed to the audience; do you ever get this question, if I were looking to become a certified professional which one should I chose? The question was posed by Alex Alonso. He was referencing the SHRM-SCP/CP or HRCI’s SPHR/PHR designations.
Alex’s title with SHRM is Senior Vice President for Knowledge Development. I am not sure what all Alex does, but one of his biggest efforts for the last couple of years has been the development and implementation of the SHRM Certifications. For those of you who have not been involved with this, I can tell you the program has not been without its challenges. The new certification program has taken criticism from pretty much every angle and every source. And this has been going on now for more than two years.
Understand Alex is at the center of this and right where he has chosen to be, in charge of the program, perhaps not at the center of the firestorm. I doubt that is what he signed up for, but in many instances, but it is what he got. I don’t know Alex all that well but there are a couple of things I do know about him. He is perseverant and he is committed.
In case you don’t know the story, the old certifications PHR/SPHR/GPHR and the California certifications were and are still overseen by HRCI. HRCI and SHRM divorced. SHRM went a new way with a new certification; this is the program that Alex is running. There were all of the questions and comments about how it was wrong, it was a money grab, it was childish – pick your story. The bottom line is this, SHRM has moved on. The new certification system is now working very well and will soon be entering its first re-certification cycle. SHRM has now certified close to 100,000 HR Professionals.
So as the new certification program takes off, Alex and the SHRM team have been tweaking this program up very nicely. At the conference, we heard about improvements. One of the big things is they are making it very simple to track your Professional Development Credits (PDCs) with an amazing app they have created. I should have downloaded this from the app store a long time ago – but I didn’t. I am the procrastinator that threw all of the paper documents into a file and promised myself I would deal with them later. Realistically, that time will probably come about 2 weeks before my certification will expire. But not now, that ain’t happening. I have the app and 3.25 credits. The app is so slick that when I get home I am going to key in what I have and be done with it. You should too.
There are other improvements coming soon. And, Alex and his team continues to listen for new and better ways to run the certification program. It has come full circle. It is no longer the ugly, red-headed step-child of SHRM, it is becoming one of the crown jewels of the organization.
Now let’s fast forward to the closing of the conference about a day and a half later. We were handing the microphone around the room. Each attendee was telling the group about their biggest take-away from the event. Then I got my turn, this sometimes scares people – myself included. Nonetheless, I said my biggest takeaway was now having an answer for the question that Alex had posed at the outset of the conference about which certification should an HR professional chose. The answer is the SHRM Certification. As I made this pronouncement about the certification process and thanked Alex for his efforts, the 130 HR pros in the room must have agreed with me, because they all stood up and clapped to show Alex, and SHRM, how much they appreciate what he has done for the organization and our profession.
I felt very proud that I was able to garner some well-deserved recognition for him. Alex has fought a tough fight, he has taken a lot of heat – and he has built an amazing certification system and infrastructure. He has emerged out of the fight looking good and smiling.
In closing, let me say, I am proud to be David Ryan SHRM-SCP.