Agnosticism Towards SHRM

Ben Martinez Change, Good HR, SHRM

Why do you attend a SHRM Workshop? Is it for the recertification credits? If so, any good HR Pro should have agnosticism towards SHRM these days…Specifically the way an HR Pro gets re-certified. Last month, I attended 2 workshops in 3 days. The courses: Strategic HR and Finance for HR. About 60 HR Pros around the U.S. gathered in downtown Chicago for these 3 days. Many HR Pros happily said their intent for being there was to just “earn” the recertification credits. Sad, but true. Makes me feel like we have lived up to the Toby character from The Office for a reason… Makes my beliefs agnostic towards SRHM and their tagline of “Leading People. Leading Organizations.” Rather, their tagline should be “Collecting Credits. Updating Your SHRM Profile”. Is that how we want to operate as a profession?

Credit Seth Godin and his views on changing education. Here is what we need to change with SHRM’s certification/education process…

 1) No more tests. Being a certified Pro means you wear big boy or girl pantaloons. People, like myself, crammed and memorized every HR fact in the SHRM prep book. With luck and memorization, we passed the test. But many do this exercise more than once. This sad mental preparation does nothing to prepare you for the strategic role of HR. Only proves you can memorize. Stop the damn tests. Instead, treat the certification process like a thesis or dissertation. Not to the extreme of a PhD or Master’s candidate. Famous universities can do that. Instead of tests, have an HR Pro pick an issue they would love to fix from their organization. Then create a plan to address the issue and present it to a SHRM board. The HR Pro and our profession would get more out of this, than cramming for a test. Too hard? Tough. You don’t earn your SPHR, but you learn more than memorizing HR facts. Anyone out there remember the Norris-La Guardia Act? Good for you if you memorized it. When is the last time your business partner cared…

2) No recertification workshops. Now called “Funshops” – Have fun during the day and lecture at night. Structure them so people work on real business issues from their companies. They work in teams and have all day to solve or come up with a plan to fix the issue. We are HR Pros. The good ones will figure it out. The great ones will do it and have fun. At night, we then huddle in a room to present our plan to a SHRM Board. Bread and wine available for anyone who wants it. While we sip on wine we listen to a lecture. The informal atmosphere will get people to open up about they learned. HR Pros who attend this training will work hard and play hard. The mantra will be ” Lead, follow or get out” of SHRM.

We need to change the way we educate ourselves. We need the most motivated and networked in our profession. People who are good test takers and memorizers aren’t good HR pros. Do you believe SHRM is making us better at our jobs? We need to learn how to learn in HR? Is the SHRM organization living up to their tagline of “Leading People. Leading Organizations.”?

Just like you, I want to keep the famous “SPHR” initials on my LinkedIn Profile, but I want to learn something along the way. My views are agnostic about the professional certification process of SHRM. For the record, I learned more about Strategic HR and Finance from SHRM last week. But I also learned SHRM and us HR Pros need to change the way we are doing things. We are Toby from The Office for a reason. Pathetic, but often accurate.

Ben Martinez

Ben Martinez – family guy, coffee critic, planker, and HR & Recruiting journeyman. He has successfully worked in HR leadership roles around the US and Mexico for Fortune 500 companies (Pepsi, Honeywell, and Energizer). Most recently he was the VP of People & Culture for HireVue, where he hired 400+ people in almost five years using video, social media, and created the employment brand, VueNation in partnership with HireVue.

Ben now runs his own consulting company, Ramp Talent, where they ramp recruiting and HR for startups. From recruiting ready-to-go talent to implementing ongoing best practices to preventing legal headaches, we build the first HR and recruiting systems for fast-growing startups.

PS – coffee is for closers – Ben founded an e-commerce subscription coffee company focused on re-imagining coffee in the workplace and home – Sumato Coffee Co. They only roast your beans within 48 hours of your order.

Ben lives in the SLC, Utah area.