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.