This month I have been thinking about the ideas of getting and giving, and in doing so was reminded of the present Pope’s namesake, Francis of Assisi, who joined the dots between the two ideas very simply when he said: “In giving we receive”.
I’ve been thinking along these lines because in my series of columns on AHRI’s five strategic pillars, this month I want to discuss the second pillar – HR Community.
The essence of HR Community is that it acknowledges the centrality of give and take that is at the heart of the volunteer culture – and the glue that binds people together in professional associations such as AHRI.
When people join a professional body, they do so for many reasons. One of those is summarised neatly in this commonly asked question: “What’s in it for me?”
That is a very legitimate question and my management team and I spend a good deal of time and energy trying to provide fitting answers to it.
Access to useful networks is one of those answers.
AHRI’s free member forums around the country have proven to be a popular response to the demand for a way to bring together, in face-to-face discussion groups, professionals who share specialist expertise and geographic location.
We get positive feedback from those groups, as we do from the many formal professional development activities and events held around the country where members can join forcces.
Our HRMonthly magazine and our new HRM online media site provide different types of professional networking opportunities, as does the AHRI LinkedIn discussion group that consists of a great many members these days, heading for around 50,000 the last time I looked. But while LinkedIn serves a purpose, at bottom it’s simply a place to find people and a place to be found.
One thing we have discovered in pondering this question is that on the whole AHRI members do not simply operate on the basis of being in it for what they can “get”.
Evidence for that is our highly successful national mentoring scheme, which continues to provide accounts of members who tell us they receive by giving. So much so that we have no trouble running monthly stories in the magazine in which mentors and mentees share experiences of what each gets out of the exercise, as well as what each puts in. The stories reveal that mentors are often surprised at how much they learn from the person they are mentoring. The ostensible giver often happily admits to being a receiver.
Another discovery we have made is that very often members are looking for opportunities to give, and they look to us to provide those opportunities. Our elected state councils are outstanding examples of members giving to their colleagues through their formal council roles.
But to be frank, I have to admit we could be doing more to offer other opportunities to “give”, and it is through the HR Community pillar that we are making determined efforts to remedy our previous shortcomings.
Over the past year or so we have established volunteer panels in addition to our councils that draw on the professional expertise of members. Those panels are making a substantial contribution to the profession and their HR colleagues. I’m thinking of our Research Advisory Panel, our Public Sector Reference Panel and our Inclusion and Diversity Panel. These emulate in some ways our long-standing National Accreditation Committee which is a decision-making body. Our expert panels don’t have decision-making responsibilities as such, but provide authoritative advice to AHRI in key areas of professional activity.
In addition to the AHRI councils and panels, we are also currently working on a new initiative designed to create a culture of informal volunteering that supports the aspirational needs of members to give back to their colleagues and to the profession. My national manager of operations, Julia Whitford, has responsibility for this initiative which is due for rollout soon. Julia would be very interested in hearing from members with ideas.
And so would I.
You can view AHRI’s 5 pillars and related articles on the website.