Paul Kearns is the author of today's post in our ongoing "If I could change one thing about HR..." series. Paul Kearns runs the PWL consultancy and is a passionate advocate of "evidence-based HR" (also the title of his blog). He is the author of the set text 'HR Strategy' and the CIPD's 'Evaluating the ROI from learning'. Paul will be speaking at the CIPD's HRD 2011 event at Olympia, London on Wednesday 6 April 2011, on the following subject: How Accurate and Necessary is ROI for L&D?
Paul Kearns: If I could change one thing about HR...
...that's an easy one - I would scrap the CIPD and replace it with a General HRM Council - or GHRC for short - along exactly the same lines as the GMC (General Medical Council) for doctors, with exactly the same powers to strike off those that do not meet its very demanding standards.
With immediate effect all existing job titles involving the words 'HR', 'Learning & Development' and 'OD' (the full, official list would be much longer) will have to be removed from company stationery, staff lists and business cards and replaced with the title 'HR title (Pending)' - me included - until such time as we have been approved by the GHRC Fitness-to-practise Panel.
The key (but not sole) criteria for receiving the Panel's blessing will be as follows:
- Every applicant will have to sit a viva in order to convince the Panel they are fit to practise. This would involve a few simple questions such as "Why exactly did you spend £x on (insert any HR or development activity) and what evidence did you have before you embarked on this activity that it would benefit the business?" Most would fall at this first hurdle.
- Any hype, jargon, bullshit or otherwise unsubstantiated claims will result in immediate disbarring from the profession for a period of two years, after which the applicant can apply again - having learned to speak in plain English (or whatever mother tongue is chosen). Equally, quack remedies will be completely taboo at the GHRC in the same way as homeopathy is regarded by the medical profession.
- If the applicant gets past steps 1 and 2 they will be asked what fully-accredited framework or model (with properly verified evidence of efficacy) underpins their practices. This would have to satisfy a similar standard to the process of new drug trials in the pharmaceutical industry. Any hint from the applicant that they are 'just doing their job', following what they read in the latest issue of Harvard Business Review or copying from company Y, will also result in immediate disbarment.
Should the failed applicant try to mount a defence using the plaintive cry - "But I've always worked for blue chip companies!" - they will receive a disdainful look from the Chair with the withering response: "Yes, that's what the HR Directors at Royal Bank of Scotland, Enron, GM... (the list continues) all said."
Of course with 135,000+ CIPD members and many more people working in the HR field already, without any qualifications, you might think the GHRC would be snowed under for many years with a backlog of applicants. I don't think so. How many HR and training people would dare apply knowing, before they even start, that they have no chance of passing these simple tests of HR-worthiness? The charlatans on the other hand, who have no interest in professionalism will just change their job title - again.
For myself, I am volunteering to be the first guinea pig; even if it means I get struck off. That would still be a great day though because I would actually know, at last, that somebody was taking seriously a subject I am passionate about and setting a standard that makes the term 'I am an HR professional' meaningful and worth striving for.
The only practical problem then is whether anyone knows of any candidates who might conceivably qualify as respected members of the Panel? CIPD executives need not apply.