Confidence in Competence

Much of the talk at this year’s SHRM Volunteer Leader Summit centered around the newly launched HR certification. My count at the number of mentions of it stopped after I decided if each mention demanded a drink, I would have a BAC of 1.0

Among all of the discussion, one element appeared to dominate the discussion more than any other. In both 2015 and 2016 SHRM is providing an incentive to both local chapters and state councils to promote the new SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certifications. For each SHRM member who gains the new certification, a local chapter will get $20 and a state council will receive $10. If Texas has 10,000 of their 19,000 SHRM members gain the new certification, their state council will get an extra $100,000 from SHRM. That is a serious incentive!

Here is my question – if this certification is truly better, why is this incentive needed? After taking the certification tutorial (and yes, gaining my SHRM-SCP credential) I question this move.

The tutorial walked through the SHRM Body and Competence and Knowledge (or BOCK) and then provided some scenarios and questions based on the scenarios. After completing this, I can say I am impressed with the scenarios I saw as well as the questions being asked. None of the questions (among the limited number on the tutorial) relied on just knowledge gained from a text book or memorization. This is a good thing! If the exam follows this same format and includes elements we saw on the tutorial, this represents a great step forward from the exams I took previously to gain my PHR and later, my SPHR.

Given this advancement in the testing and SHRM’s self-proclaimed leadership position in the HR community, this extra enticement seems a bit unnecessary. There remains a defensiveness on the part of some SHRM staff and board members about the certification. I would suggest letting it stand on its own merits to see if it truly is top quality and allow positive word of mouth drive its growth. Pursuing numbers through financial incentives and placing requirements in chapter and council SHAPE documents doesn’t convey confidence in the product and will certainly lead some to wonder if SHRM can only launch their certification by using the carrots and sticks available to them. While the words of SHRM’s senior leadership convey confidence in the new certification, their actions suggest some doubt persists.

As a continued proud holder of my SPHR certification and now my SHRM-SCP, I still maintain my position that certification alone does nothing to tell me how someone works, thinks, or achieves results. Those are things that must demonstrated over time and they cannot always be easily categorized or captured on an exam.

This entry was posted in HR Practices and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Confidence in Competence

  1. Howard Winkler says:

    Well said, Bradley. Most members’ concerns about the new certifications have more to do with how they were rolled out than the products themselves. When we join an organization, it becomes part of our identity. Many of us feel diminished by SHRM’s negative rhetoric about HRCI, its lack of collaboration with volunteers and members in the development process, its give-away roll-out, and now the carrot-and-stick chapter strong arming that you mention here. You can also add the restrictive, exclusive contracts it is signing with universities that prevent them from teaching for HRCI’s exams.

    I have confidence that SHRM’s certifications will be quality products. But my feelings about being a SHRM member and former SHRM leader have definitely changed.