Bridging the gap

Two weeks ago I wrote and published a post called Mind the Gap. Typically one of my posts currently gets between 150-300 views. This one has had around 1300 at the time of writing so I’m guessing if you are reading this, you’ve probably seen it.

Of those 1300, about 80% of the views have come from within New Zealand. That’s a lot of (I assume) HR and other people-related specialists who have been reading it. I’m truly humbled by the response and messages of agreement and encouragement that have come not just from within NZ, but from HR practitioners around the world. For example, it warms my heart to know that a group of HR pros in the #ConnectingHR network were discussing how interesting and inspiring the debate is in London last week.

Before I say any more, let me just clarify that I have absolutely no personal axe to grind with HRINZ. I have been a member continuously for 16 years since I arrived in this wonderful country, I am proud to have had my experience and knowledge recognised by professional accreditation and having the initials MHRINZ on my CV, and was both thrilled and honoured in 2011 to have had a game changing HR initiative I was the architect of recognised by being a Regional Winner with Distinction and a national finalist in the HR Initiative of the Year Award. We were robbed on the night if I’m honest, but I’ve let that one go! Oh, and I’ve been an HRINZ mentor for the last 8 years because I believe in putting back.

So while I’ve never been an active member in the “volunteer-be-on-a-committee” sense, I think I’ve earned the right to voice my opinion. As a direct result of the blog post and associated comments, I have had a long discussion with one current board member and have another meeting booked with the current National President. It’s all positive and I will help and support them in any way I can. I think we’ve all been a little taken aback by the response but I also think we want the same thing – a better, stronger professional institute.

I’m a big believer that you get what you deserve in life. And by that I mean we get the professional institute we deserve. But the whole experience has left me a little shell shocked if I’m honest and wondering why a) what I said has come as a surprise to many people and b) HRINZ have not been getting feedback like this previously? Have I really got it that wrong? Have I really misjudged the mood of the profession? I don’t believe I have going by the comments and feedback.

So why are we as a membership
• So apparently passive about and uninterested in the future direction of our institute?
• So apparently disinterested in board elections and completing member surveys?
• And as HR professionals who are expected to challenge the status quo in our organisations and advocate for and lead change where it’s needed, so reluctant to do that with our own professional body?

This debate is not just about how HRINZ is run. It’s also about us as a membership. If you agree with what I said then we have to look at ourselves and say we are accountable here, we’ve arguably allowed our institute to plateau without demanding more of it than it currently delivers. We pay a subscription every year but seemingly demand little in return. If you weren’t happy with your telco, or your power company, or your subscription TV service you would be on the phone straight away demanding satisfaction and offering feedback to some poor soul in India who is probably counting down the minutes until his/her shift ends. I know I do.

If you don’t agree with the sentiment expressed in the original blog (and some certainly don’t), or think a public forum was not the right way to tackle it, that’s fine and I respect that. But change is good right? I love to work in organisations that are continually growing and evolving. “Business as usual” has no place in modern HR. It simply doesn’t exist. No one ever writes a strategic plan that says “right, we’ve cracked it. Let’s do BAU for the next 3 years!”

So when the dust settles and the new HRINZ board absorb the feedback and agree their priorities for the coming months in line with their new strategy, I hope what will come out of this is a much stronger sense that we are all in this together. It’s not us and them. They can’t and won’t make change happen on their own. Change is needed on both sides of the equation. There are two sides to every conversation and we all need to work harder to bridge the gap and build a stronger New Zealand HR community that isn’t afraid to challenge each other, embrace new ideas and learn from others. Be truly social AND global, and strive harder to be better at what we do and more relevant in our organisations.

The future success of our profession depends on it. Hopefully we’ve made a start.

6 thoughts on “Bridging the gap

  1. Rachel Walker says:

    Richard thank you for this post and the chat we had recently. I have already briefed several members of the HRINZ Board and will brief the CEO when I see her at the Southern 9 to 5 event on Thursday. I know there is also another paper being prepared for me to take to the Board, to be given to me next week by a couple of your readers.

    I can say that the Board and Head Office have at times been disappointed by the apparent lack of interest members display in the activities of their institute – for example less than 10% of members vote in board elections and this has been the case for some years. I think this discussion has helped us to recognise that some members, like those reading this blog, want other ways to engage with us and that we need to communicate with you more in this form of media.

    On a personal level, my involvement with both HRINZ and other organisations I’m associated with, comes from a combination of wanting to give back and because I’ve taken the view that if I care enough to critique, then I should care enough to do. I realise that not everyone can do the same, but please, if you want change we are not psychic – we are all professionals in change processes in the day job so lets not have a mechanics car here!

    If anyone else is at the Southern 9 to 5 event in Christchurch on Thursday please feel free to make yourself known to me along with your views, or contact me via Linked In or Twitter. I am more than happy to take your views to the full HRINZ Board.

    1. HRManNZ says:

      Thanks Rachel. That’s @RachelWalkerNZ on Twitter. Rachel is the current HRINZ National Vice President so give her a follow if you want to contact her and share your thoughts.

  2. Roman Lee-Lo says:

    Very well put Richard – challenging the status quo is essential in our ever-changing HR landscape. I have to say that HRINZ with Beverley Main, Matt Carter and Rachel Walker’s leadership is also conducive to the introduction of HRINZ activities to Queenstown. Not to say that the whole HRINZ team haven’t delivered as TEAM work is of the essence of any initiative on a national and global scale which is quite evident in #nzlead ‘s drive to engage our HRINZ leaders in this forum. Therefore – there are things that HRINZ is doing i.e. very outstanding and some that needs more effort – and I believe that’s where the majority comes in – us ‘paid membership’ to drive engagement and forward thinking! I just wanted to say that I am proud to be part of an organisation in NZ where its renowned as a ‘laid-back’ society to take it to international heights and we need individuals like you to drive it. THANK YOU and I look forward to a social-media savvy HRINZ and engaged committees throughout NZ building sustainable and international benchmarks that value OPERATIONAL to STRATEGIC HRM practices. Thank you for making a start as I’m not hopeful anymore but confident that the best is yet to come!

    1. hrmannz says:

      That’s great to hear Roman and fantastic to see the efforts you are making in the Queenstown area. We need to clone that energy!

  3. Rachel Walker says:

    Roman and other enthusiastic HRINZ members in Queenstown and surrounds have recently established a new HRINZ branch called Queenstown Southern Lakes. Both it and the new Invercargill centred Fouveaux branch have come about due to the demand by members for something more than the local Wild South branch (yes we have the best branch names down south!) could provide. These two new branches are a great example of members saying that want something more for their membership and HRINZ responding and helping them with that. The Board is thrilled that new branches have formed, as it is one of the best ways to reach new people, and both are going really well. I have been privileged to attend a QSL meeting and there are a great bunch of enthusiastic practitioners and also other (non-HR specialist) people managers involved.

    This is exactly what the new HRINZ strategic plan is aiming to do – engage with not only HR specialists but anyone who has an interest in people management practices. I will talk more about the strategic plan and its elements over the coming weeks.

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