I have just spent a couple of weeks in London, a combination of work and family events since you ask. London is where my HR career started and where I got my HR qualifications, so it’s always nice to go back and see what’s going on.
I was fortunate to get the opportunity for a coffee meeting with Perry Timms, an excellent and experienced HR practitioner who I had previously conversed with via Twitter (@PerryTimms) and email but never met. Perry has become a friend and champion of the NZ HR Twitter community as a result of taking part in our weekly #NZ Lead discussions (every Thursday at 7.00pm #nzlead/8.00am GMT if you haven’t tried it) along with several other Brits, Aussies and others who find it interesting. #NZ Lead (started and hosted by Amanda Sterling and Tash Pieterse) is developing into an excellent discussion forum for HR professionals on a wide range of topics.
Perry and I share a love of seeing change and improvement in the profession (as well as old punk/mod music) so we decided to meet face to face. Our coffee lasted an hour and a quarter and we could have talked all day to be honest. I am finding that I am meeting more and more HR/recruitment people face to face that I’ve initially connected with via social media. I know a lot of people are wary of that and think it a bit odd, but I have to say that everyone I’ve met in real life has been exactly like their online persona – interesting, inspiring, generous and willing to share thoughts and ideas. By the time you get around to meeting, you already know you have a lot in common and are probably going to click with them so it makes networking so much easier.
Anyway, we talked about a lot of HR stuff and Perry shared with me his thoughts on the state of the profession and some interesting initiatives he is working on. We also talked about our two countries respective HR institutes. As a former member of the UK CIPD myself, I knew about the wide range of work they do for the profession. But a lot of what I heard blew me away. What was clear from our discussion and from reading some publications Perry left with me is that there is a huge gulf in how the CIPD and HRINZ operate, way more than I had imagined.
Now I’m not into HRINZ bashing here as clearly they can’t compete with the CIPD in terms of members, resources and publications/events and I know I’m not comparing apples with apples. But I do think in NZ we are being poorly served by our professional body at present. The New Zealand DIY/number 8 wire mentality seems to pervade everything in business here. While it sometimes fosters an environment of innovation, I also think it can be an excuse not to aim higher.
My sense is that HRINZ are standing still while the likes of the CIPD are really driving the future of our profession and pushing debates. Where is the innovative thinking, the white papers, the podcasts, leading the discussion about the state of the profession and where it needs to go in NZ? Why is more not being done to influence the content of HR degrees? The UK model where CIPD control all HR qualifications and membership is mandatory for anyone doing one of these should be looked at in my view. HRINZ seems to be little more than a professional association that most people expect and get very little out of. #NZ Lead has been created because a gap exists that needed to be filled in the social media space for example.
When I first came to NZ in 1997 it was still the Institute of Personnel Management and very few HR people were actually members or even knew of its existence. It’s come a long way since then, but I’m still left with the feeling that its growth and development has stalled in recent years. It still only represents around 50% of the HR professionals working in NZ. The professional development and conferences don’t really change much year on year, the magazine and website are a bit drab in my opinion, the annual awards uninspiring. They are not engaging the profession in the same sort of way that I’ve seen the NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants do for instance.
So I’m starting to think I might get more out of membership of the CIPD again and I know other HR professionals who have come from overseas who feel the same. I know I want to keep growing and learning and having my thinking challenged. I have just renewed my HRINZ membership but it might be my last.
Wouldn’t it be great if one day we had one set of global standards for HR? Do you think HRINZ could/should be doing more for the profession in NZ and engaging with the likes of CIPD to add value for their members that they don’t have the resources to provide? As I say, it’s not my intention to bash the institute here but I know I’m not alone in my thinking. And not alone in looking elsewhere for inspiration.