From the CEO
What a difference a decade makes. If you want insight into how the world of work has
changed in the past 10 years, you’ll enjoy the feature
in this month’s issue, “HR Then and Now,” that
explores the trends that have altered our profession
most dramatically since 2007.
Back then, succession planning and leadership
development were the most pressing issues for HR.
Today, organizations struggle just to bring skilled talent through the front door—never mind positioning
them on the leadership bench.
In 2007, social media was viewed by management
as a threat to productivity, not the essential business
tool it is today. HR analytics was in its infancy, and
we were still feeling our way through the metrics.
Annual reviews were the norm, as opposed to the constant feedback employees expect today.
But between then and now, the Great Recession intervened. Organizations—and HR departments—were decimated by staffing cuts and budget
reductions. By the time I stepped into the CEO role at
SHRM in 2010, unemployment was still close to 10
percent, even though companies were struggling to
fill highly skilled jobs in all industries.
Everyone was trying to do more with less, and there
was a lot of fear and pulling back. It would have been
understandable for HR professionals to hunker down
and accept lower expectations. And we could have successfully adjusted to diminished circumstances. But that
wasn’t good enough for us.
You see, those who simply try to weather the storm
can end up being washed away by it. Think about Sears
Roebuck and Eastman Kodak. Despite dominating their
respective markets for more than 100 years, they missed
the big opportunity to become leaders in the new digital
The real winners today—individuals and businesses—don’t simply adapt to change. They get ahead of
it and shape it. They lead it.
Years ago, SHRM chose to prepare, purposefully
and intentionally, for an indeterminate future. We knew
the time was coming when organizations would need
the direction and expertise of HR as never before. We
could see on the horizon that workforce issues were
positioning HR professionals to be leaders in business.
So SHRM went to work, laying the strongest foundation possible so we could steadily shape the workplace
of the future and cultivate a profession of leaders. We
developed the SHRM Competency Model and launched
new and sought-after professional certifications, the
SHRM-CP and the SHRM-SCP. We expanded our
resources and research, created key global partnerships,
dramatically expanded membership, and launched
national campaigns advocating for our profession.
Now, a decade later, we face some of the most uncertain times we’ve known. But because of our willingness
to lead and grow, HR is ready. We have become influencers and trailblazers. We have helped leaders understand that people—and therefore HR—are the bridge
between mission and results.
It is always enlightening to look back, but it is vital
to look forward. As we prepare for the next round of
challenges together, let’s make sure we do more than
adapt. We must lead.
Don’t Just Adapt to Change—Lead It
By Henry G. Jackson