Change Champions and the HR Certification Battle

HR leaders, as Change Champions, must practice what we preach and embrace the significant change that is happening before us in the HR certification space.  As HR leaders, we are expected to be the Change Champions in our organizations.

In fact, the top HR thought leaders, Dave Ulrich and Wayne Brockbank spend a significant amount of time discussing the importance of change and HR as Change Champions in their two most recent books, HR From the Outside-In, Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources and Global HR Competencies, Mastering Competitive Value from the Outside In.

HR as a Change Champion is one of the six competencies they discuss.  Their context is that of HR being a Change Champion in their organization but it can just as easily be applied to the HR certification space.

In their book, HR From the Outside In, Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources, they discuss how organizations go through dramatic change.  To emphasize their point, they cite the startling statistic that only 70 organizations from the 1955 Fortune 500 list are still in existence independently today.  In other words, 430 big and powerful organizations no longer independently exist.

In the book, they emphasize HR’s role in the change process and state the following:

HR professionals should help their companies face, accept, and be open to the pressures of change rather than hide from them.


They also state this:

If an organization cannot change as fast as the pace of change in its environment, the organization will fall behind, decline, and disappear.  Change in an organization should at least match the pace of change in the environment.

HR professionals conceptualize and design organizational agility, flexibility, and responsiveness to external changes.

Our profession is rapidly changing and evolving.  If our certifications don’t keep up with this change, they will become obsolete.   I commend SHRM for recognizing this and introducing a significant change to the HR certification space in response.  They are shaking up the status quo and taking a huge leap forward.

Prior to SHRM’s announced entry into the HR certification space, I never saw HRCI doing anything significant in response to the changes happening in our profession.  I expect they will now.

As I stated here in a previous blog post, our profession will end up better when one certification ends up winning the battle.  The competition will ultimately be good for the profession.

Again, I am not taking sides.  I am very proud of my SPHR and will also go through the steps to earn my SHRM-SCP as soon as it’s available in 2015.  I simply want the best for the HR profession and if this battle that takes us to the next level makes us uncomfortable, so be it.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “Change Champions and the HR Certification Battle

  1. I’m not sure for what the author was looking regarding announcements as to how HRCI was staying abreast of the ever-changing HR profession. The bodies of knowledge are reviewed and revised on a fairly frequent basis and have absolutely kept pace with current business needs.

    SHRM hasn’t “improved” any certification process. In fact, it’s actually “dumbing it down” in an effort to boost their own coffers and to find ways to stem the falling numbers of their membership base. Their self-titled designations are an arrogant attempt to attach them to the brand. There isn’t even a qualified/validated/accredited exam in place in order to provide “certification”.

    I find it interesting that Dave Ulrich is showcased as an HR Guru (he is!) and quoted quite well in this article. Does the author know that Mr. Ulrich has partnered with HRCI for current and future endeavors? It’s very exciting!

    HRCI designations are, and will continue to be, the gold standard for measuring the competencies of HR practitioners/professionals.

    • Hi Linda,

      I am a fairly observant student of the HR profession and hold an SPHR certification but I rarely saw anything about or heard from HRCI. They were very poor communicators until SHRM made their announcement. They were a monopoly who didn’t think they needed to communicate to their “customers” or the public.

      Now they have to and have quickly become very aggressive in the communication and marketing of their high quality products which I think is fantastic. Like you said, they even got Dave Ulrich on board – something I doubt would have happened had SHRM not shaken things up earlier this year. They have also since re-branded and updated their website shortly after updating their website earlier this year.

      I am thrilled by their quick and decisive response in the effort to protect their certification products. I think they are doing an outstanding job with everything they have done. This is what’s supposed to happen in the free market.

      With HRCI and SHRM battling it out, the quality and status of HR certifications will only improve.

  2. Rich,
    Your comment, “I never saw HRCI doing anything significant in response to the changes happening in our profession” has me puzzled. What was it you expected to see? The Body of Knowledge that underpins each certification is regularly revamped to reflect the most up-to-date practice of our discipline by a small army of volunteers that include senior HR professionals and academicians, as well as professionals in the fields of test development and psychometrics.
    The content of the HRCI Body of Knowledge is published on the Institute’s website for anyone to see. I encourage anyone who is concerned about its relevance to at least look at what the body of knowledge covers and see if it matches your expectations of what knowledge, skills and abilities an HR professional should be able to demonstrate.
    Maybe HRCI should have been tooting its own horn more so that people would have a better understanding of the incredible amount of labor and science that go into producing the examinations that define each certification. I’ll give you that. One thing I think you’ve probably observed is that because of the competitive situation, HRCI has been much more proactive about informing people just why their certifications have become the standard for our profession.

    • Jim,
      I consider myself a fairly typical HR pro with an SPHR. I earned it a few years back and rarely heard from or about HRCI since – that is until SHRM made their announcement. Now I hear from and about them weekly. And its good stuff.

      My point is they were a comfortable monopoly who didn’t think they needed to toot their horn or proactively communicate to their “customers”. Your last paragraph hits it on the head. They are now doing a fabulous job marketing their products.

      I’m a big fan of HRCI and proudly sport my SPHR! But like I said, I am also pleased to see the status quo get shaken up a bit. I think this will improve the status of the HR credential in the end.

      • Rich, you’ve made some astute observations and offered fair feedback. I hope, however, that the HR community will look seriously at the substance of what they are signing up for, rather than simply allowing this to degenerate into a “PR war”. I think you are right about HRCI needing to do more to inform and connect with the profession, and I’m glad you’re seeing the results of the Institute’s renewed efforts in that direction.