Don’t Adapt to Change; Lead It, SHRM CEO Says

By Kathy Gurchiek Jun 18, 2017

NEW ORLEANS--Successful people and companies aren't great simply because they adapt to or manage change. They prepare for and lead change, said Henry G. "Hank" Jackson, CPA, SHRM president and CEO.

When they don't, companies stumble and fail, he said, pointing to Eastman Kodak as an example.

Kodak had ruled the photography market since 1888. In 1975 it invented the first digital camera, but instead of leading the future of digital photography, Jackson said, the company put its invention on a shelf because it was "fearful of disrupting the market" it dominated.  

The biggest name in cameras missed the ultimate "Kodak moment."

[SHRM members-only platform: SHRM Connect]

"Is HR prepared for its own future? Are we shaping it, or are we letting it shape us?" he asked the SHRM 2017 Annual Conference & Exposition.

SHRM has prepared for the profession's future "with purpose and intention," he said, by:

  • Creating the SHRM Competency Model, a foundation based on research conducted with more than 30,000 HR practitioners around the world to solidify new standards of excellence for the profession.
  • Establishing the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certifications that are based on the Competency Model. Today there are more than 100,000 professionals that are SHRM-certified.
  • Advocating on HR-related issues with government leaders at a national level, from paid leave to immigration to drafting a bipartisan workplace flexibility bill that will be introduced in Congress.
  • Forming a partnership with SHRM's Executive Network, HR People + Strategy. 
  • Establishing SHRM as the voice of the HR profession. U.S. Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta "made SHRM one of his first calls" when he took office in April 2017, Jackson said.
  • Becoming the permanent Secretariat of the World Federation of People Management Associations, which represents 600,000 HR professionals in more than 90 countries.

"We are ready because we have changed the conversation on what HR leadership looks like" and have become influencers and trailblazers. "HR is quickly becoming a proving ground for strategic leadership," he said, citing 2014 research by the Harvard Business Review that found that chief HR officers make the best CEOs.

Do more than adapt to change, he urged conference attendees.

"We must lead and shape our organizations for whatever the future brings."

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