CEO Message – May 2015

Advice for the aspiring CHRO

Bill GreenhalghWant to work your way up to Chief Human Resources Officer? Bill Conaty, former SVP HR at General Electric, has some advice for you: Become a problem solver and not a problem identifier.

“I’ll always remember something a GE executive once told me: ‘Whenever I have a meeting with HR, I have my list, she has her list, and by the end I have both lists,’” he told a capacity crowd last week at HRPA’s first HR Executive Authors Series event at Toronto’s Hazelton Hotel.

The lesson? If you want to be a welcome sight in the CEO’s office, don’t add to the pile of issues they need to sort out. Instead, give them a heads up on the issue—as well as a description of how you’re dealing with it and assurances that it’s being resolved.

That’s what Conaty did during a long career working under GE’s Jack Welch. And it was this experience heading up HR at General Electric, as well as his new book The Talent Masters, that he discussed at the event.

In Conaty’s estimation, CHROs are in high demand in North American corporations, but they also have the shortest shelf life among C-suite executives (only 20% last seven years in the role before they’re replaced—usually by an external hire.)

But if you do get the job and you want to succeed, you need to convince the CEO that you’re up to the task, because “HR is only as impactful as the CEO wants us to be,” he said.

During his time at GE, Conaty turned Welch’s thinking about HR 180 degrees—from the opinion that anyone can do HR to understanding that human resources is the most important part of the organization, with a mandate of anticipating business needs, attracting and developing the best talent to fulfill them and building a leadership pipeline that ensures organizational success over the long term.

And besides knowing your business and industry inside/out, some other bits of advice Conaty had for aspiring CHROs included:

  • Find a critical fit between the CEO and CFO. “You have to work well with both functions. The CFO bring the numbers and the CHRO balances that out with the people side and employee advocacy.”
  • Have the courage and confidence to push back when you see things being done that run counter to the organizations’—and your own—values.
  • Develop the trust of the entire senior management team—not just the CEO.
  • And never forget the “human” in human resources: “The best leaders balance a passion for the business with a compassion for people,” he said.

Upcoming HR Executive Authors Series events

HRPA is hosting several other HR Executive Authors Series events over 2015 including:

Culture Connection: How Developing a Winning Culture Will Give Your Organization a Competitive Advantage with Marty Parker, CEO, Waterstone Human Capital

June 18, 2015

The Real Deal on People: Straight Talk on How the CHRO Creates Business Value with Les Dakens, former CHRO Maple Leaf Foods and CN Rail

September 16, 2015

Optimizing Organization Design: A Proven Approach to Enhance Financial Performance, Customer Satisfaction and Employee Engagement with management consultant Ron Capelle

October 14, 2015

The Behaviour Breakthrough with Steve Jacobs, Chair and Senior Partner of The Continuous Learning Group (CLG) consultancy

November 4, 2015

Learn more and register for these events.

CHRO Quarterly Dinner Series

Join HRPA, Les Dakens and senior HR executive peers for straight talk on how the CHRO creates business value.

This exclusive dinner series provides insights into and discussion of all the critical CHRO functions and illustrates the theory with case studies from real companies, real executives and real situations.

Learn more and register for these events.


Bill Greenhalgh

CEO Message – April 2015

HRPA’s new focus on HR inspiration

After several years building the foundation to support the HR professBill Greenhalghion, HRPA’s new direction will focus on the “inspirational”—strategies and plans to ensure everyone knows and understands both the true value that HR Professionals add to organizations and the ways in which being a member of HRPA works to protect the public.

That was the general consensus of last month’s HRPA board retreat that discussed the Association’s strategic direction for the next few years.

HRPA’s past two Strategic Plans set the stage for where we are today.

The first was foundational—getting the basics rights in terms of engaged employees, strong financials, committed volunteers, and integrating the chapters and Association into a single family with a common goal.

The next Strategic Plan was both aspirational and transformational and involved getting the Registered Human Resources Professionals Act, 2013 in place to cement HRPA’s role as regulator of the HR profession in Ontario; creating a new HR competency framework based on an updated body of HR knowledge that reflects today’s HR needs; and designations that validate not only the necessary knowledge but, as in other top tier professions including law or engineering, the ability to apply it.

With both these former Strategic Plans underpinning a fundamental shift in HRPA’s role, our new strategic direction has to be inspirational: Ensuring everyone–HR professionals, government, business and the public—understands that HR is a genuine profession with unique skills and capabilities that bring value to organizations through people strategies.

While we are still working on a formal strategy document, you can be sure that it will be around the whole area of HR “professionalization”.

One of the key characteristics of a top line profession is the reliance on a common body of knowledge that is largely applicable worldwide and the major professions have worked tirelessly over decades to develop this. In HR, a younger profession than most, our world has evolved in the last few years, what is expected from us has changed dramatically and while we have made a good start in defining what being an HR professional really means, the coming years will be critical in shaping it.

Today, we have a body of knowledge for the profession, and we have built that as part of our new competency framework. From this foundation we will reinforce the understanding that our profession involves specific and unique skills that add value to organizations and that they  require the expertise and training of certified professionals.


Bill Greenhalgh

CEO Message – March 2015

Join HRPA for a special interactive lunch with former General Electric HR head Bill Conaty

Bill Greenhalgh

How well do you know the high potentials in your leadership pipeline? Do you know who’s ready to step in and take over a division or function if the need arose? Do you know who could backfill that incumbent’s job? Are you doing enough to prepare your high potentials to fill these future roles?

According to Bill Conaty’s recent book, The Talent Masters, a chief executive’s primary role is to attract, assess and develop future talent for organizational success—and if that’s the CEO’s main role, then clearly the VP HR should be providing the judgment and expertise to assist in the process.

Case in point: In one anecdote that illustrates just how well Conaty and his boss (former GE CEO) Jack Welch knew GE’s talent base, they were faced with the sudden departure of Larry Johnson, who had been heading up the company’s appliance business. Within a day, they knew who would be his replacement, as well as who would fill three other jobs down the line—precisely because of their knowledge of GE’s top talent.

HR Executive Authors Series Luncheons: Talent Masters with Bill Conaty

Conaty, former SVP HR at General Electric, will be sharing these anecdotes and insights, discussing his book and career at General Electric influencing and working alongside Welch at an upcoming HRPA HR Executive Authors Series Luncheons—May 8 at One Restaurant in Toronto’s Hazelton Hotel.

Click here for more information and to register for this event.

This is an exclusive opportunity to break bread with someone who has truly helped shape modern HR practice–particularly around leadership and talent management.

Pre-approved Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities

On another note, I was recently in Thunder Bay visiting the Northwestern Ontario chapter, and I had a few members who wanted some clarification around HRPA’s Pre-approved CPD program.

There is a wide variety of activities that can be credited towards the CPD requirement for maintaining a designation granted by HRPA, and attending conferences, seminars and workshops is a popular option.  This type of CPD activity may be pre-approved by HRPA.  While a program doesn’t have to be pre-approved to be eligible for CPD, it certainly helps members identify which programs that can confidently include in their CPD log.   Pre-approved programs (e.g., seminars, workshops conferences) display this HRPA CPD seal:

hrpaPre-approved programs and activities are provided with an HRPA ID number. Upon completion of the activity, participants are provided with this number.  HRPA members may use the number to identify the activity in their CPD log. Providers do not submit participant lists to HRPA, so it is each member’s responsibility to track their own professional development activities.

More information about the CPD requirement

More information about offering pre-approved CPD programs.


Bill Greenhalgh

CEO Message – January 2015

2015 Annual Conference Preview

Bill GreenhalghWith less than two weeks to go before HRPA’s 2015 Annual Conference & Trade Show (January 21-23 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre), Association staff are putting the final touches on what promises to be another blockbuster event.

This year’s conference—The Business of HR—examines how modern HR practice combines business acumen with deep HR knowledge and capability to create and execute human capital strategies that get results. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you register ASAP. Friday, January 16 is the last day to register online, however delegates can still register after this date onsite at the conference.

Register Now

Besides a full suite (130+) of HR seminars to keep you up to date on the latest thinking across all HR disciplines (from employment law, leadership and global HR to talent management, organizational effectiveness and total rewards), Canada’s largest trade show and a great networking event, we’ve got seven keynotes that really encapsulate the Business of HR, including intellectual capital expert Dr. Nick Bontis, Unselling author Scott Stratten, corporate culture and creativity maven Dr. Ginger Grant, Click Moment author Frans Johansson, futurist Mike Walsh, Freakonomics author Stephen J. Dubner and author, comedian and storyteller Steve Gilliland.

Special Events

We also have a couple of bonus events this year, including:

  • Caregiver-Friendly Workplaces Expert Panel Discussions And Workshop–a pre-conference (January 20, 2015, 2 – 5 pm) workshop exploring issues faced by older workers balancing work and caregiving and their employers, as well as promising practices around building caregiver-friendly workplaces.
  • Crossing the Line in the Workplace—an expert panel discussing what HR needs to know to protect against workplace sexual harassment, including why sexual harassment still exists, what workplaces are higher risk, why victims are reluctant to complain and how employers should respond to complaints while limiting legal liability.

newlogodNew HRPA logos

HRPA will also be unveiling new logos for both the Association and its designations at the Annual Conference.

With the passage of the Registered Human Resources Professionals Association Act, 2013, transforming HR into a Tier 1 profession, as well as the introduction of a new certification framework and designations, the HRPA board felt it made sense to mark these milestones with updated branding. We look forward to your comments on HRPA’s new look.

Certificates & Lapel Pins

In the next few months CHRP, CHRL and CHRE designation holders will receive updated certificates and replacement lapel pins bearing the new designation insignia. CHRLs will receive the CHRL pin, but will be able to order the CHRP pin at extra cost if that was their designation prior to October 29, 2014. Ordering instructions and pricing will be announced at a later date.


Bill Greenhalgh


HRPA 2014 Year in Review

Bill GreenhalghAs 2014 comes to an end, it’s time to reflect on what HRPA has accomplished on behalf of its 21,000 members.

The biggest accomplishments—the passage of The Registered Human Resources Professionals Act (in late 2013) and the introduction of our new HR certification model and three new designationsneatly wrap up the final objectives of our most recent strategic plan: most notably to establish HRPA as Tier 1 regulator of the HR profession.

These two accomplishments act in concert to bring about this fundamental shift in HRPA’s role.

Firstly, the Registered Human Resources Professionals Act gives formal, legislative recognition of HR as a Tier 1 profession and for HRPA to regulate the profession in the public interest.

Secondly, with this recognition comes the need to solidify the professionalization of the HR profession, and our new certification framework and designation model lays the foundation for this to happen.

The new model is a competency based framework that not only tests an updated body of HR knowledge reflecting the needs of today’s HR professionals and organizations but the ability to apply that knowledge—similar to other top tier professions including law or engineering.

And similar to other top tier professions, the new model also incorporates supervised work experience programs for entry level (CHRP) HR practitioners to manage the transition from academic knowledge to professional competencies. Finally, all candidates must write a case-based performance exam, where everything learned in school, in the professional program, and in supervised experience, comes together.

HRPA members played a key role in creating this new framework over 2014. We received overwhelming response from members to participate in focus groups that helped us completely update the existing HR Body of Knowledge (which hadn’t been effectively updated since 1996). The new framework has been thoroughly modernized for HR practice in a business environment that has changed considerably over the past 20 years, and includes 213 HR functional competencies and 15 enabling competencies (things like business acumen and negotiation) across three levels of HR practice.

The framework is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and is a gamechanger for the HR profession. Indeed, some day we may see other HR regulators around the world adopting this framework—and with mutual international recognition means even greater acceptance of HR as a profession.

We are very pleased that we have the full backing of the HRPA membership in our professionalization project. In this year’s Member Satisfaction Survey, we asked you several questions around HRPA’s role and performance as a professional regulator. You came back with strong support, with positive response rates ranging from 74 to 82 per cent.

Expanding HRPA influence

A key mandate of HRPA’s new act is protecting the public—including the health of Ontario workers.

Over the past couple of years, HRPA has been working with partners like the Great West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace to help organizations build and promote psychologically safe workplaces.

This year we created a web resources and professional development to educate HR professionals and employers around effectively manage mental health issues in the workplace.

And we continued working with Government towards the goal of building an accessible Ontario by 2025. In support of Ontario’s AODA workplace initiatives, this year we rolled out a comprehensive Accessibility Certificate program for HR professionals in four cities across Ontario, and produced a free webinar series around Accessibility standards for customer service, employment and information and communications.

HRPA Thought Leadership

Over 2014, HRPA continued its HR research activities, including membership surveys and joint projects with partner organizations.

In April, HRPA published a member survey on unpaid internships that found almost two-thirds (62%) of Human Resources professionals believe unpaid internships not tied to education or training should be illegal.

In May, HRPA released Apprenticeship Reform: Ontario’s future depends on it—a paper calling on Ontario’s new College of Trades must make changes to its apprenticeships regime, including modernizing the certified tradespeople-to-student ratio required to train apprentices, and ensuring fair and transparent classification of compulsory trades.

In June, HRPA polled the membership on employee engagement as an HR metric, and found eighty per cent of respondents strongly supported the metric, with more than a third saying it’s a concept that’s increased in importance over the years.

And in October, HRPA partnered with the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association on research that found workplace compassionate care leave policies increase engagement and retention for employees caring for terminally ill loved ones.

All in all, it’s been a very productive year that sets us up well for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

On behalf of HRPA, I’d like to wish you all a Happy Holiday and the very best in 2015.


Bill Greenhalgh