From Personnel to Human Resources

I had the opportunity last night to lead a study group of 15 HR professionals through a review of the Business Management and Strategy module at their PHR/SPHR prep class.  Thanks to the Acadiana SHRM chapter for inviting me to join them in lovely Lafayette, Louisiana (go Ragin’ Cajuns!).

The last time I really reviewed any of the specific HRCI material was back when dinosaurs roamed the earth; I completed the PHR exam in 1996 and the SPHR in 1999 – back in the days when the test was paper/pencil and we waited 8 weeks to receive our results in the US Mail.  Yikes. Therefore, quite frankly, it was interesting for me to do a bit of prep work for the group by reviewing the SHRM Learning System materials and even taking a few of the practice exams.  May I just state, one more time, I do not ever want to take that exam again.

So last night. among other things, we:

• Talked about HR’s role in managing projects, managing change, managing third-party contractors and managing technology

• Discussed the importance of understanding management functions such as planning, organizing, directing and controlling – BUT – also the critical need to understand that today’s employees (and today’s workplace model) are shifting away from thinking the traditional ‘command & control’ model is a-ok.

• Spent quite a bit of time talking about strategic planning and the critical need for HR professionals to be involved in the formulation, development, implementation and evaluation of their organization’s strategy.  We looked at a template of the Kaplan & Norton Strategy Map/Balanced Score Card and walked through some real-life examples of how to connect objectives to create value.

• Tackled the topic of the relationship between HR & Finance (sexy talk about stuff like balance sheets and income statements).  BUT…we also talked about the need for HR pros to remember it’s not just the CHRO/CFO who need to be BFFs – we in HR also need to cultivate and strengthen those relationships with our Sales Leaders, Marketing Leaders, IT leaders, etc.  (I even threw in a shoutout to our Talent Anarchy friends – “Relationships Matter!”)

• Explored various ways that HR professionals can assess their internal environment and scan the external environment – building awareness and bringing their knowledge/expertise back-into their organizations.

That last subject area was one we focused on for some time. I may have belabored the point a bit, but I think it cannot be overstated how vitally important it is for HR professionals to bring knowledge, information and awareness of what is going on outside the four walls of their department.  Too often I run into HR leaders who are not even aware of current events, breaking news and happenings-in-the-world – let alone able to draw a correlation between those things and the resulting implications for their business or their jobs.

That’s personnel, and all it implies.  Not Human Resources.


In any event, I think last night went pretty well.  I handed out Meet-Meme cards, got to talk about Twitter and believe I only cursed once. Also, it didn’t seem like I offended anyone when I talked about needing to “grow some balls.” Plus, we had cake.

So good luck HR peeps – rock that exam!


  1. Yikes, I took the SPHR back when it was paper and pencil too. For the record, it was post-dinosaur era.

    As always, you nailed the realities of what it takes to be strategic. Lucky students.

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