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William Tincup, HR Examiner Editorial Advisory Board Contributor

William Tincup, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Contributor

Please welcome William Tincup to the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. William Tincup lives outside the box, leaps naked emperors in a single bound, and knows all the words to Soul Rebel by Robert Nesta Marley. William runs Tincup & Co, a firm that helps HR teams see things clearly, find solutions, and do great work. Full Bio »

A Business Case for Intolerance

by William Tincup

SHRM & HRCI are more important than anything else in the entire HR ecosystem. They are more important than you, me and or anything that’s in the cloud. <start rant>

Society for Human Resource Management

SHRM is our national association that represents all things workplace. That just is. Do they get things wrong? Sure. Do they make mistakes? Yuup. Do they represent your particular interest and/or agenda to the fullest? Prolly not. Do they listen to you? Sometimes.

SHRM has one goal… legislative power. The larger the organization, the more power it has with congress.  Smaller membership equals little or no power. SHRM helps to shape ALL workplace laws. That’s what we need them to do… shape things. Here’s the rub… it can only do so much with 250,000 members. But let’s say SHRM had 3 million members; they could advance a bolder legislative agenda. Congress would take note, and we’d have better, more refined HR laws. Not the hacked up crap we usually get from congress.

SHRM tries to be all things to all people. Kinda noble. That said, we need to position SHRM in our minds differently. The sheer size of SHRM membership is good for everyone that cares about the HR ecosystem. So, using this line of thinking… SHRM membership is NOT just for practicing HR professionals… it should be for everyone in the HR ecosystem — from vendors to consultants to analysts to bloggers to thought leaders to anyone that remotely cares about talent / human / people / workplace stuff. A large professional association is good for HR professionals in that it further legitimizes the HR profession. And it really doesn’t cost all that much… prolly less than what you spend on Starbucks in a week or so.

HR Certification Institute 

HRCI is the organization that helps us further legitimize the profession because they maintain and develop the certification exams PHR, SPHR, GPHR. These exams are important for both practicing HR professionals AND everyone else that interacts with them. Think of two different layers… those that studied for and those that passed these important exams.  For instance, I know a large payroll and talent management provider that pays for and gives bonuses to sales executives that pass the PHR exam. While they can’t own the distinction because they don’t have enough on the job HR experience, it shows a level of commitment to the industry that most vendors that sell to HR lack. This provider understands the complexities of HR… and, in truth; it prolly helps them sell software. I’m okay with that because they cared enough to learn more about the profession.

We need more people certified and the entire ecosystem supportive of these distinctions.  Again, IMHO, HR pros that aren’t certified have no business in HR.  Take the test and support the profession. I get it, you’re busy… we’re all busy.  Take the test.  Can you imagine a lawyer not taking the Bar Exam but wanting to practice law? No. Do you want rent space in a skyscraper that was designed by an unlicensed architect? Hi, my name is disaster, have me met? Feel like submitting tax returns for your $20M firm to the IRS from unlicensed CPA? Not a chance in hell.

You get the point. We don’t argue at cocktail parties whether lawyers, architects and/or accountants are legit professions. We sure do when it comes to HR.  Let’s stop that self-loathing shit. Again, you might not like HRCI… totally get that. HRCI is what we have now… so, let’s get everyone within the HR ecosystem to respect and support the profession by supporting the distinctions we do have. Those that don’t or won’t get on board… then let’s kick them out of the ecosystem. I’ve become intolerant.

If you want to fix shit. Great. Get involved… join SHRM, get certified and volunteer… and fix shit from within. But for the love of all things holy, stop complaining about having little or no voice and/or just bitching for bitching sake.

Lastly, these two things are related right? Yes, of course they are. At the core of becoming more intolerant is a pursuit of respect. All forms of respect but most notably self-respect and getting others to respect the HR profession. Tons of folks make money and/or profiteer from HR while flipping HR the bird while doing so. Let’s stop that. Let’s require anyone that intersects with HR to pay a toll… that of becoming a SHRM member and supporting our accreditation process and outcomes. Apply this to everyone… vendors trying to sell you software to analysts that sell reports to bloggers that write about workplace stuff.  Filter them. Are you a SHRM member? No, then fuck you. Yes, how are you supportive of HRCI?  Oh, you’re not… then fuck you. It really is that simple. Once people understand how serious we are about these two things… most will be supportive (read: get the fuck on board) and those that aren’t won’t be in business that long. So, fuck em.

Become intolerant of those that don’t really really love you. And, IMHO, those that don’t support SHRM and/or HRCI… don’t love you. <end rant>

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  • I love you William, but that’s one bizarre vendor litmus test you’ve got there. Mine is “Can your product help me do my job better?” End of story.

  • Th

  • I disagree. Strongly. If the individuals in the profession collectively did their jobs more effectively, the profession would be helped far more than any certification or lobbying.

  • David, I can kinda see your point… I think HR does a great job… I think they, like everyone else, could do a better job… be more effective / efficient, etc… True of HR, true of all mechanics I know… an added difficulty is that most people don’t respect the HR profession… those in it and those outside of it… For instance, you and I both know firms that refuse to sell to HR… refuse… why is that?  They are the buyer after all… they will own it after the sale… it’s because a large percentage of the ecosystem doesn’t respect HR… so, outside of HR pros doing a better job (stated and covered)… how do we change that?  How do we (all of us) help to raise the stature of the profession?  

  • People respect results. SHRM is a organization with many merits, but expecting the profession to gain respect because of a certification rather than the contributions of it’s practitioners seems very off-base to me. And making business decisions based on support for any organization instead of business results seems like a recipe for failure.

  • I’m not so sure I see the value of certification. There are two kinds of staff functions, strategic and maintenance. The maintenance functions provide routine value and are never, ever expected to innovate. Lawyers are the best example of this. Certification binds staff professions into following non-disruptive procedures.

    It’s a really good thing for staff operations that need credentials in order to have credibility. It’s exactly how lawyers (and other credentialed professions) avoid accountability.

    Strategic staff functions (like marketing) depend on innovation and results as the fuels that drive their credibility. I can’t imagine anyone making the case that consistency and repeatability across organizations is something that generates marketing results.

    There are two HRs, really. One side wants to control and defend. This group needs certification and repeatable standards. The other side of HR wants the function to be a competitive weapon. They need certification like a hole in the head.

  • I did not like your GBCW from your old firm one bit- basically a big fuck-you to people who trusted and paid you with more faith than you gave back.  Now you want to charge tolls (and who the fuck are YOU to charge anything) with more meaningless credentialism?   Just what the world needs.  Hello, we can BUY our own politicians with tiny amounts of cash if we really want something.  We don’t need no stinking AARP/NRA/Chamber of Commerce (sorry, I mean SHRM) to do it for us.   Long Live Citizen’s United !  
    Want to know how to get some respect in the US of A?   Put a pile of money together, and you won’t have to worry about the letters to the right of your last name…   PS, Architects should be pissed with you too for daring to compare what they do (and have to learn) to 2/3 of the asshattery that passes for HR practice in this country.  Lawyers…maybe not so much….

  • I can honestly say that nothing in your comments is redeemable… that said, I’m glad you took the time to comment.  Not sure why you have hate in your heart for me… I’ve never met you and have little or no knowledge of your firm, etc.  I usually get this level of venom from folks I meet in person.    Again, thanks for reading the blog post and offering an opposing position.

  • We have met- San Diego 2008.  

    No hate here, that’s way too heavy a word.   

    I am well versed in the uses of sarcasm.  Consider it a compliment of sorts that in all my thousands of comments on various threads (business ones anyway) over the years, yours is first that drew F bombs. 

    I don’t post for redemption; I post to add insight, to call Bullshit, to try to entertain, or to support and thank people who entertain me.  

    Guess which purpose motivated me today ?  



  • Entertain?

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  • What the hell did I walk into here?  
    I get what William is trying to say, and I also understand the point of view that David and Uncle John are putting out there as well. I get asked the certification question at least 10 times per month.  The bottom line is that being a SPHR and being a progressive, leading edge HR pro are not mutually exclusive.  If you’re a strong HR pro, you can study and pass the exam – or – don’t tell anyone you’re taking the exam and just go take it without prep and wing it.  If you fail, repeat until you pass.  The pass rate overall on the SPHR is 60%.  I’m guessing for the really strong HR pros, the pass rate would be 90%.I always tell people this – why wouldn’t you take the time to get certified?  There’s always going to be some people like William and myself that value it, and if you’re a difference maker you can get it done and check it off your list – for life.Once you’ve got the certification, it’s done.  You put it in a soft place in your profile but don’t feature it, because there’s always going to some haters who love to rage against the machine and say that it’s all BS.  You put it in a soft place in your profile (probably leave it off your signature and biz cards, folks) and engage people based on who you are and what you can add, not the letters.  Do that and both groups love and respect you, unless you are WJT, which obviously can draw a reaction at times.Go get it, and then focus your professional development on the 5-10K out of the 250K SHRM members and those who don’t belong to SHRM that are actually going to make a difference in your development, how you do you job, your career, etc.  My two cents again – 
    being a SPHR and being a progressive, leading edge HR pro are not mutually exclusive.   I’d do both in the way I outlined above.Interesting post and reaction, thanks John for having the forum.

  • I don’t have a problem with certifications. If it will help your career to have the letters after your name or you want show support for an organization that you care about, go for it. 

    Where I part ways from WIlliam is over his suggestion that HR professionals only do business with organizations that likewise show support for SHRM. It reeks of politics (“I will only vote for a candidate who is pro-life/pro-choice!”), but it completely ignores that a professional’s first priority should be to do their job and to do it well. If an HR pro ignores that rare exceptional product that actually works because the company is not affiliated with SHRM, then they are doing their employers and themselves a huge disservice.

  • David  – we agree on that.  I don’t buy that argument either.

    Here’s a little bit more of what I was after – it’s hip to say that certification is BS and even to actually think those that certified are somehow part of the walking dead.  My thinking is more candidate centric.  You’ve got a camp that think the way I described in the previous sentence, then you’ve got a camp that thinks what William outlined to varying degrees.  I think you get your certification and then do a great job professional and hedge your bets on those two camps.  

    Reminds me of the extremes of both political parties these days.  I think William believes some of what he wrote, part of it is to get a reaction.  Does that make him the Ron Paul of the HR?  

    We report, you decide.

    PS – do you have your SPHR?  Might have to rethink my love of ERE.  #joking

  • Not Ron Paul. Trump???

  • That’s why I love you David…

  • It’s so easy (rhetorically and politically) to engage in reductionism; if one is against a “toll” requiring all participants in an industry to obtain meaningless credentials (meaningless because the credential does not really apply to the work they do), it must be the same as saying that the credential has no value.  Well, that’s not the same thing.  The credential may have value- the process of education with or without the credential has value- but “HR” is a vast and soft description of a whole lot of activities. 

    Credentialism is an insidious force- much like government, the best amount is the least amount that gets the job done, and too much of it is a source of injustice and stagnation.  
    The idea of credentialing architects, medical professionals, engineers, pilots, ship captains and the like is essential for public safety and functioning economic arrangements in a complex society.   The idea of creating and commanding credentials for mere “respect” is disgusting, and works against the worthy use of credentials; hence my violent reaction to the ideas expressed by a person who has previously annoyed me. Hope this clarifies.

  • Martin, I failed to mention that I loved your use of 

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  • IMO – The HRCI certifications in their current form are a crock of $#!+.

    I earned my SPHR around 2004. I let it go inactive 2006 for two reasons:

    (1) I was tired of paying for CEU’s taught by people that didn’t know any more than I did; and
    (2) An hour spent running my business was worth infinitely more than the hour I would spend in a CEU.

    Frankly, my experience is a certification does not reflect actual knowledge. As a Director of HR/Client Relations for a PEO I used to interview HR professionals regularly. I would say 75% of people with a PHR could not assess a basic FMLA/ADA/Worker’s Comp issue to save their boss’ ass.

    It certainly does not reflect dedication to the profession. It’s not that dedicated to certify on a test you can pass with 12-16 actual hours of class time. If you’re truly dedicated to your profession learn how to decipher that FMLA/ADA/WC issue, see things from leadership’s perspective, and confront poor performers.

    I returned to HR in mid-2006 after I sold my own business. During my time away from HR, I built a business with $550,000 in revenue, created my SWOT analysis, budgeted, made payroll, paid vendors, hired/fired employees, promoted my business, served clients and sold my interest. Those things are worth more than any HRCI certification.

    Unfortunately, I get certification is part of the game so I will re-certify in 2013. However, let’s not kid each other the only value of the SPHR is impressing decision makers and making SHRM/HRCI money.

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