Dear diary: Confessions of a certified practitioner

Dr John Molineux FCPHR, Senior Lecturer, Deakin University

Dr John Molineux was one of the first to achieve HR certification through AHRI.

John is a senior lecturer in human resource management and leadership to MBA students at Deakin University, where he moved following a long career in HR.

“Once you start managing people, then you realise how much you don’t know. Those people with managerial experience tend to do best because they already have that background. But increasing knowledge and expertise in HR is fundamental, no matter who is taking on people management tasks or where they are coming from.

“Besides helping to train a new generation of leaders in HR, I have helped to assess HR practitioners’ work towards achieving HR certification as a member of AHRI’s National Certification Council who approves HR certification applications.

“Through my assessment role it’s been really exciting to see some of the high-level work that senior HR people have been doing in organisations. One example was a major international project that saved a huge amount of money, based on assessment of people capability within the organisation.

“If you are going to show leadership in HR, then I believe it’s  important to be a role model and so there was no question that I wouldn’t do the program, even though I am no longer in an HR role. For me, professional certification is the final piece of the jigsaw in a 35-year career that began when I started out as a payroll clerk in the 1970s.

“I followed the HR certification senior pathway program and I put in a research proposal to work on a project with AHRI around positive psychology and experience of work for HR professionals.

“This took the form of a diary study whereby HR practitioners recorded what they were doing and how they were feeling about that work. Follow-up interviews informed an AHRI member survey. And the third step was a workshop which revealed the findings and ideas about how HR practitioners could be more effective and enjoy their work.

“The research also explored the effects of different kinds of stress. For example, we found that creative pressure is more satisfying than time pressure. So our lessons to HR was to make sure you are involved more in work that you love. You can do that by creating efficiencies in transactional work or by allocating specific time for it or making it more fun, so you can get on to the more creative and interesting work.

“I found the AHRI Model of Excellence was a particularly useful tool to think about my own capabilities and behaviours and how they applied to the project.

“Today, I think the perception of HR is that it is variable. Those who are doing it well have a strong understanding of how strategic it can be. But in many organisations it is still only transactional work.

“But you have to understand the operational side of the business. You need to be an expert in HR systems and strategy, people capability and performance management.”

“We need to cause disruption within the HR profession. Firstly, by training new talent coming into the profession to think differently about the HR role, but also disturbing what is going on there at the moment, so that it becomes a crisis that HR can’t avoid. HR practitioners need to make a decision: if they want to advance their career, they need to expand their capabilities and do further study.

“It’s incumbent on large businesses to take the lead as well. They can see that it is worthwhile having highly competent certified HR professionals, experts who can be trusted and relied upon, and to stand up and to say clearly that we need to create that standard within our organisation so that the HR people can be our trusted business partner and contribute to the ongoing success of the company.”