Recently I distributed a survey to the members of HRCI Voices - a LinkedIn group for those certified by the HRCI or interested in procuring a certification. The group currently has about 5,600 members and is growing rapidly (only a few months ago there were approximately 1,700 members!).
I included in the survey the following main open-ended questions:
In general, participants seemed supportive of both the HRCI and the HRCI certifications, expressing their willingness to maintain and promote their existing certifications. Many were highly critical of and disappointed with the SHRM move to create a new certification process. Several urged the HR community not to "jump on the bandwagon" of the SHRM certification just because it's free and easy.
As far as what the HRCI can do for its community, members asked for more communications, transparency (many want to know exactly what happened), and, in particular, support for recertification activities. Members asked the HRCI to connect to providers of educational activities and share information on learning opportunities. There were also various calls for the HRCI to support local HR chapters by pre-certifying their events and requests that the HRCI focus on speed and quality of service.
What do you think? Would you add anything to these findings?
A preliminary summary of the findings is included below.
Don't you hate it when two organizations you respect and enjoy are on opposite sides of the fence - and you feel that you have to "take sides"? I suppose this is one of those times.
I do respect SHRM. In particular, I have had wonderful experiences with members of the Iowa SHRM Council Board and the Central Iowa SHRM.
Over the last few years, however, (in my capacity as Director of Certification for the Iowa SHRM State Council) I have worked closely with the HRCI. I have become acquainted with their work and with the seriousness of their efforts. So yes - I am saddened (and considerably surprised) by the national SHRM's move to create its own certification. Here are my reasons:
Call me old fashioned but I like the idea of a "separation of powers" between those who develop and maintain a certification exam and those whose business model includes preparing candidates or providing recertification credits. Here is why:
SHRM has not yet shared with its members a strong enough reason to justify such a major shock to the system. Confused candidates or certified professionals may stop trusting the certification process in general, regardless of who offers it.
Do SHRM's hopes for a "competency based" test convince me? Not yet - at least not until I receive more in-depth information. The word "competency," after all, involves a complex combination of skills, traits, attitudes, and knowledge. Is SHRM really going to test competencies? Or just knowledge of competencies? I guess we'll need to wait and see, but a truly valid and reliable competency based test is extremely hard to build. SHRM might need to incorporate in the testing processes the review of real work products (an analysis of portfolios, perhaps?), and other time consuming (and likely costly) methods.
SHRM is our association - we, the members, should have a say in something as important as the launch of a new professional certification. Instead, SHRM chapters have been operating in the dark, working hard to promote the current certifications to employers and candidates. Frankly, I feel betrayed.
So here is my message to the national SHRM. You play a valuable role to your members and to the HR field. Right now, however, you are sharing a poor example of strategic planning, communication, and cooperation. HR professionals should be able to play nicely in the sandbox.
I wonder if these competencies will appear in the new certification exam?
An important "postscript": I plan to keep my SPHR certification, which I very much value. I'm proud of this certification and grateful for all the doors it opened for me in the HR community.
For the record, I do not plan to seek the new SHRM certification. In fact, the idea of "transferring" a certification (something SHRM has suggested) makes absolutely no sense (perhaps it only makes sense in the minds of marketing colleagues). Do I plan to obtain further HRCI certifications? Absolutely - GPHR is next on my plans, as soon as I take care of tenure requirements at my university.
About the Author
Dr. Cris Wildermuth is an Assistant Professor at Drake University, where she coordinates and teaches at the Master of Science in Leadership Development.