The CIPD's latest HR outlook survey published this month shows HR leaders are still struggling to achieve credibility as strategic business partners. While 62% of HR leaders surveyed consider themselves integral in setting business strategy, only 29% of business leaders agree. The figures are similar in relation to HR's involvement in implementing strategy (60% and 30%).
Some critics of the CIPD argue the institute should be doing more to support senior HR professionals One of the most outspoken critics of the CIPD in recent times is HR consultant Paul Kearns. He is now one of th e founders of a new institute which aims to support HR in the transition to full integration with business strategy.
The new, not for profit, Institute of HR Maturity describes itself as: "A Professional Institute dedicated to Business and Societal Value created through mature HR practice".
By "value" the IHRM means "either basic value (minimum standards) or added value, in $$$s". It's not clear whether the IHRM believes "societal value" can be measured solely in monetary terms. Many would say this is too narrow. Peter Cheese, the CIPD chief executive who took over in 2012, has said that organisations need to think about their purpose beyond short term profit, especially in the light of the Barclays Bank Libor rate-rigging scandal. And HR "guru" Dave Ulrich has written about the need for organisations to create "abundance" in ways that don't directly relate to the balance sheet.
So what is "mature HR practice"? The IHRM website explains:
"... a concept first acknowledged by IBM when it found its customers could not make best use of their new computer technology. This same concept of maturity applies to human capital management and IHRM was established in 2012 to promote the highest possible levels of organizational maturity based on the Maturity Scales of HR and Learning."
HR maturity is a new concept for me and I'd be interested in feedback from others about what currency the term has among HR and business leaders. With other terminology already widely used and covering similar topics, how much "traction" will HR Maturity get with HR directors and business leaders? I appreciate that the IHRM has to differentiate itself from other HRM bodies, especially the CIPD, but don't we have enough HR terms and jargon already? And in practical terms, what can it HR Maturity achieve that Human Capital Management, for example, can't?
The IHRM's website describes the institute as "... the very first council to monitor professional standards by HR and learning practitioners." IHRM accredits practitioners in its own ARC© assessment tool which can only be used by fully trained and approved IHRM analysts. It produces a report with a specific rating of "current maturity levels" and makes recommendations for improvement, and accredits organisations in accordance with its own, proprietary Maturity Index©.
The thinking behind the standards and approach is based on whole system thinking, defined by IHRM as "level of integration between strategic plans and organization design".
The IHRM describes itself as "a global network of like-minded individuals and organisations". Will this new network reach the parts the CIPD has failed to reach?
There are six steps to heaven in the IHRM's theory. You might like to consider which stage your organisation has reached. Am I wrong to assume most organisations will be somewhere around Stage 2 and 4?
- Stage 0. No conscious personnel management
- Stage 1. Personnel administration
- Stage 2. Professional personnel support
- Stage 3. Effective personnel/HR management
- Stage 4. HR thinking and practice becomes integrated with business operations
- Stage 5. Transition from operational to strategic focus
- Stage 6. The whole system, high value organization
I recommend going to the IHRM website and watching the helpful video where Kearns explains how to move through the stages to maturity. His down to earth approach makes it sound so straightforward you can't help wondering why organisations find it so hard to achieve Nirvana in reality.