The SHRP value proposition

Meet Lara—an HR Director at a major Canadian telecoms company.

Lara is a career-focused senior HR leader who is seriously considering earning the Senior Human Resources Professional (SHRP) designation, but has some questions around what the designation will provide in terms of advancement, recognition, career development and networks.

She’s thinking: Is applying for the SHRP worth it? Would I be better off earning an MBA? Do any other HR leaders around me have the SHRP? How have they benefited? Do non-HR executives recognize it? Will it take me where I want to go in my career?

Lara is a fictional character that was fleshed out by a small group of SHRPs at an HRPA focus group held this summer to discuss how the designation has impacted their careers and make recommendations around building an SHRP value proposition for would-be Senior HR Professionals.

HRPA introduced the SHRP designation in 2009 as an evidence-based designation for senior HR executives who demonstrate six key senior-level attributes: trusted advisor, strategic orientation, breadth of knowledge, the ability to build HR strategy that aligns to business, and significant impact and influence across their organizations. It was rolled out to engage senior members and provide them with a senior level network to share ideas and challenges facing HR leaders at the executive level.

To date, about 150 members have gone through the application and vetting process to earn the designation and include senior HR executives at public and private organizations across the province.

Four years after the launch, HRPA is revisiting the designation with an eye to encouraging more senior members to apply and earn their SHRP. With this in mind, HRPA sat down with 15 SHRPs at a day-long event at Horseshoe Valley Resort to discuss the process for earning the designation; defining the SHRP, the value of having an SHRP; and awareness and marketing of the designation to both HR professionals and non-HR colleagues—particularly CEOs.

In short, how do we do a better job of selling the SHRP to Lara?

All agreed that a key benefit of the designation is that it provides a senior-level forum with whom SHRP peers can connect to share ideas and challenges facing HR leaders at the executive level. To encourage interaction, the group said they wanted to see more networking opportunities—both in-person and online—where SHRPs can engage in targeted discussion that go narrow and deep into topics of interest to senior HR leaders.

But of course, a big professional impetus to earning a designation is recognition—from both HR peers and non-HR colleagues—and the upward career prospects that that recognition can provide.

The group asked, since CEOs are typically the ones hiring senior HR executives, will the SHRP resonate with them?

As my colleague Louise Taylor-Green, SHRP, executive vice-president of corporate affairs and strategy at Hamilton Health Sciences, said during the discussion, “CEOs don’t care about HR credentials, they just want solutions.”

But as an evidence-based designation, that’s precisely what the SHRP demonstrates. Applying for the SHRP means providing real-life examples of what you’ve done—marrying HR know-how, leadership and deep knowledge of the business—to provide those solutions.

As we look back on the first four years of the SHRP and examine what we need to tweak in terms of process, defining the designation and providing value to SHRPs, a big piece will be communicating the huge value Senior Human Resources Professionals provide to chief executives.

Building recognition of the SHRP among non-HR senior executives—making the connection that an SHRP equals a strategic business partner—will go far in building perceived value of the designation for Lara and her colleagues.

Phil Wilson, CHRP, SHRP is chair of the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA).

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