When Did HR Certification Start Focusing on Who Has the Bigger Pin?

I must admit, when SHRM announced that it was going into the certification business last year, I was one of many who were skeptical, even feeling deceived, disillusioned, and dissatisfied that the organization responsible for promoting the HR profession had so blatantly shown its real intent.

The real intent, that is, of self-promotion and self- preservation.

None of us should have been surprised though. The reality is that for any professional organization that has success over a period of time, and grows in membership and budget, the primary goal ultimately becomes more about protecting and promoting its own interests than that of its members.

Did you know you get a pin?

This should be no surprise for those who follow politics in this country.

By now, many HR professionals have started the process of investigating the new SHRM competency-based credentials. As you may know, SHRM has provided an online capability that allows current recipients of HRCI designations to gain easy access to the applicable SHRM certifications by spending about one hour to complete the tutorial.

I completed the online tutorial recently out of curiosity about SHRM’s approach, and from feeling the pressure that the SHRM test may become the new standard. And the fact that SHRM allows current HRCI certificate holders to add the SHRM certification at no cost the first time around made it an easier choice for me.

A very smart move by SHRM, even if it’s a no brainer.

At the conclusion of the tutorial, I was informed that my new SHRM certification and “pin” would be provided to me shortly. Frankly, I am proud of my earned HRCI professional credentials and list them after my name on my business card. I suppose if that were not enough, I could always have my current certificates framed and hung on the walls of my office.

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A waste of money

At some point in the future, if I decide to renew my freebie certificate from SHRM through re-certification, I may feel the same kind of pride in accomplishing their professional standard. Maybe I’ll list them after my name on my business card as well as my HRCI credentials. That’ll be impressive.

By coincidence or not, in today’s mail I received a one-page letter from HRCI printed on thick card stock, with a HRCI pin the size of a half dollar attached. The letter congratulated me for being an HRCI certificant, and encouraged me to “wear the enclosed pin with pride.”

I, for one, am not a pin guy. But, beyond that, the fact that these organizations actually want those who earn certificates to wear pins to show our loyalty and support for them demonstrates to me that they’re focused on the wrong things. My guess is that the majority of people who wear these pins are likely employees or professional advocates of each organization itself.

It’s all about self promotion

For now, I’m sad that both these organizations are wasting our membership and/or certification fee money by spending money on the distribution of pins. In particular, I’m disappointed that HRCI felt compelled to send out these pins in a mass mailing like this that in total must have cost a pretty penny.

Unfortunately, it’s too late to turn back the clock and have these two organizations work out their differences. But it’s not too late to push back and remind them that their decisions should be driven by their role as service providers, not self-promotion and self-interest.

Mark P. Salsbury is a Human Capital executive with 30 plus years of global business experience including management and leadership positions in North America, Europe, and Asia. In 2012, Mark launched Salsbury Human Capital Management, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in helping organizations gain a competitive advantage through maximizing their human capital potential. He is the author of “Human Capital Management: Leveraging Your Workforce for a Competitive Advantage.”

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