Monday, 23 March 2015 00:00
I was there at the recently concluded National HRM Awards organised by the Association of HR Professionals (HRP). I am actively involved in the upcoming National HR Conference organised by the Institute of Personnel Management (IPM). I was in the Executive Committee of the HRP a few years ago. I have been in the Governing Council of the IPM for the past few years. I think the time is ripe for both the HRM and IPM to work together for the betterment of the HR community and society at large. Let me elaborate on this in today’s column.
The Association of Human Resource Professionals (HRP) organised the HRM Awards, the recognised benchmark for industry best practices in human resources, for the sixth time. The HRM Awards aim to provide a platform for public and private sector companies in Sri Lanka to evaluate the effectiveness of their HRM practices against internationally accepted guidelines.
It has earned the reputation of being a prestigious accolade which honours the passion and commitment of organisations whose innovative thinking and strategies have broken new ground in human resource management.
The HRM Awards has a track record for recognising and celebrating the very best in HR, once in two years, since 2002. Initially launched by the HRP to benchmark the best HRM practices in Sri Lanka, the awards have since then evolved into a competitive arena in which corporate giants and small companies alike compete for recognition and ranking as ‘gold’ or ‘silver’ winners.
I perused the website of HRP to find their current engagements. The HRP has been described as a forum where Sri Lankan HRM professionals meet, fraternise and exchange ideas. HRP works towards the betterment of the profession, the corporate world and the nation at large. As the website states, the members of HRP are “senior Human Resources professionals of the country’s largest organisations.”
HRP also appears to be working towards providing professional development, an arena for networking, a focus for legislative intervention in national HRM issues and the sharing of experiences, knowledge and ideas to establish HRM as a dominant force in the business sector. HRP’s objective has been stated as promoting the importance of Human Resources Management to reap the benefits of efficiency, productivity and sound management.
“We continuously work towards the betterment and development of our professional discipline and positively contribute to optimise human performance in the corporate and public sectors and thereby, the country at large, ultimately creating a highly efficient and productive nation,” the HRP website adds. Apparently, HRP is dedicated to pursuing its “ultimate objective” of a nation with an industrious, well-managed and driven human resource. HRP’s vision is “to bring HR to the forefront.”
Its mission is listed as: “Facilitating and supporting HR management and development concepts and strategies in achieving business excellence. Providing the opportunity for HR professionals to network and enhance their professional capacity. Raising funding for projects, managing administrative activities and maintaining good communication with the membership.”
I next perused the website of the Institute of Personnel Management Sri Lanka (IPM). It was founded in 1959 as a professional body incorporated by an Act of Parliament (1976). IPM is affiliated to the Asia Pacific Federation of Human Resource Management and World Federation of Personnel Management Associations. The vision, mission, values and objectives of the institute are supposed to focus on the creation of professional standards in human resource management and development of the human resource management profession through a process of conducting professional examinations, seminars/workshops, conferences, HR consultancy and research studies.
IPM’s vision is stated as: To be the guiding force and the leader in developing best practices in People Management Practices in the Asian region.
IPM’s mission states: We open a pathway to the Human Resources Management profession. We are the knowledge centre for local and regional people managers. As the catalyst and partner in human capital development we continuously improve quality, standards and practices in the profession.
The following have been stated in the website as IPM objectives:
1. To ensure a high level of professional standards and competence among our membership and those aspiring to become members.
2. To promote the study of Human Resource Management and to encourage research into the best means and methods of applying the principles and techniques of Human Resource Management.
3. To promote the image of the institute and its membership, and to provide leadership to the Human Resource Management profession in Sri Lanka.
4. To influence national policy formulation in areas related to the Human Resource Management profession.
5. To facilitate networking among HR professionals, to share and develop knowledge exchange views at national as well as an international level.
6. To maintain our status as the leading HR authority in Sri Lanka by upholding high standards of competence, ethics, values and professionalism among the membership.
Having gone through the two websites of HRP and IPM, I am even more convinced that they both have more potential for synergy than conflict. Then the fundamental question arises as to why HRP was formed when IPM was already in existence.
Why HRP was formed
I read an interesting article by Chitral Amarasiri, the Founder President of HRP, which shared some thoughts on this matter.
“The inaugural meeting of the Association of Human Resource Personnel was held at the Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM) on October 4, 2000,” he observes. “The Chief Guest was Mark Reade McKenna, the Asia Foundation Residential Representative for Sri Lanka. The keynote speaker was Dr. Gerald D. Sentell, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Tennessee Associates International. His theme was ‘Human Resource Management: Just another fad or does it add value to your organisation?’”
Amarasiri says that more than 40 Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers and over 70 Human Resource Professionals were present at the event.
He goes on to stay: “For a few of us this occasion was the realisation of a dream that was conceived incidentally at the same auditorium two years before 2000. It makes me nostalgic to go down memory lane, reminiscing about the batch of PIM students that I used to belong to in the late 1990s.” Apparently, PIM has been the breeding ground for HRP, and probably, that must be why PIM’s Director has been the patron of HRP for some time.
“We experienced the importance being netted together and sharing our experience/knowledge with each other,” says Amarasiri. “Thereafter, that batch of students and a handful of Human Resource professionals from leading organisations met informally to discuss issues of mutual interest. This proved to be both a learning and mutually rewarding experience for all of us. The news of these informal meetings spread among the HR community and as a result our group began receiving numerous enquiries from potential members. “
Need for collaboration
For me, why HRP was formed while IPM was still in existence has been substantially answered by Chitral Amarasiri, my friend who is now serving at the World Bank in Washington.
Reading between the lines, it is evident that there is a growing need for young HR professionals to share their ideas, issues and insights at a forum which is properly accepted and recognised.
I can imagine how the IPM thinking at that time, overly influenced by labour relations, could not have created the required new space for this “new breed of HR professionals.”
The times have changed and so have both the IPM and HRP. I can be constructively critical as I am a member of both the IPM and HRP. The IPM should move beyond the ‘business school’ mindset in catering more to the betterment of the HR profession. HRP should move beyond the ‘club’ mindset in reaching out to the ‘not-so-elite’ HR practitioners. Both institutions can collaborate on many fronts without merely competing with mistrust and miscommunication. The Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM) can play a neutral role in bringing the IPM and HRP together for the betterment of the HR profession and also for the aspiring student community.
It reminds me of the definition of HRM for Sri Lanka we coined some time ago as part of an IPM initiative. “A strategic and integrated approach in acquisition, development and engagement of talent, using relevant tools, with proper policies, practices and processes in creating a conducive climate towards achieving organisational excellence and societal wellbeing.” This clearly highlights the need to move beyond silos and egos in mutually respecting each other.
Humility from both fronts would pave the way for a collaborative future with committed and concrete initiatives aiming at fulfilling the lofty ideals mentioned in both websites. I am more than willing to play a role through PIM for such a meaningful reconciliation.