Since qualifying 23 years ago, my involvement with the CIPD throughout the duration of my career could be detailed on the back of a postage stamp with room to spare. I was completely indifferent to the Institute, paying my dues (or rather my employer did) and getting on with my career. A familiar story amongst my professional colleagues too. This changed in 2005 when I wrote a “Disappointed member from Amersham” letter to People Management over something or other, and Duncan Brown called me out on it.
He asked me to come in, tried to understand my frustrations and talked to me about what the CIPD was trying to do. We shared a lot of views, and it changed my mind. Duncan eventually left and it all went quiet until Jackie Orme took the helm. During a catch up in July last year we discussed challenged business models and the potential future shape of the HR community – the word community being key here.
The CIPD, like most membership organisations faces significant challenges in delivering to the future needs of the profession, notwithstanding the 98-year heritage and the conflicts of a charitable structure. But change takes time and more importantly, input. Specifically, input from the membership.
For the last few months I have been working with the CIPD on a number of initiatives, membership engagement strategy being a central theme. Along the way we have facilitated conversations and introductions between my HR peers, in particular my fellow HR bloggers, and the CIPD and I know all individuals involved are better off for it. Indeed, reflecting back on the last 8 months with some of the digital team including Natalie White, Natalia Thomson and Johanna Ratcliffe last week, attitudes and approaches have changed dramatically. A good example of this was the participation of a good number of these individuals in the Annual Conference this year.
But not everyone is convinced. There are many who are indifferent to the institute and its journey. Worse, there are others who stand on the sidelines throwing rocks, doing little to influence the body that represents the future of the HR community. Yet this is their membership body, their community and change requires objective input from everyone.
So, here is my challenge to members. If you are an indifferent member like I was – paying your annual dues but largely indifferent to the institute in general – I would encourage you to get involved. The CIPD represents a massive network of people who can add a lot of value to each other – including you.
If you are one of those members who spends a lot of time actively complaining about and criticising the CIPD then perhaps it is decision time. Standing on the side-lines, throwing rocks but not being prepared to get involved changes nothing. Either cancel your membership and move on, or jump in and get involved. Speaking from personal experience I can wholeheartedly recommend the latter.
Sure, as a member I can see that there is still a way to go on the journey, but I got involved and shared my views. And the level of openness and genuine commitment to change has been inspiring.
If membership bodies didn’t exist and were being created today, they would be communities with a purpose. Conversation, participation and input are central to the success of a community and ultimately a membership body needs involvement from those community members to secure its long term future.