CIPD should not just be run as a business

Geoff,* it is roughly 10 years since you became the director-general of the
CIPD and it is time we had a personal development plan discussion.

I know you are a great advocate of modern personnel practices so I am sure
you will fully support my invitation to all CIPD members to take part in a
rigorous competence assessment of you in your present role. I will use the very
popular 360-degree methodology. For my part, I am sure you welcome an external
stakeholder perspective.

First, let us deal with your obvious strengths, such as your keen sense of
entrepreneurialism. From day one you have clearly demonstrated how to run the
CIPD as a business. Your strategy of sweeping aside ‘competing’ professional
bodies has been impressive, as is your ability to maximise your position as a
monopoly provider of professional qualifications. This has made a significant
difference – the coffers are overflowing and your rewards package fully
acknowledges this.

Now, on to your aptitude for team building – outstanding. You seem to have
been able to collect around you a group of admirers who always rally to your
defence in the face of public criticism. I know you go to great lengths to pick
people who suit your way of working and their loyalty to you is a credit.

Now I know you are not someone who likes to hog the limelight, but I have to
say that some improvement in the public profile arena might not go amiss. We
want to see more of you and we want hear more from you. I know you can do it
Geoff, so let us see a little more effort in this respect. It is an awfully
long time since you made any significant pronouncements and members like to
know where their professional body is heading. Mind you, no platitudes please.

Talking of members brings me on to a much more sensitive subject –
professional development. This is a cause for concern. In your 10 years in
office, can you honestly say the personnel and training professions now have a
higher standing? No, Geoff, holding up the Royal Charter again is not really
what I am getting at. Yes, I know everyone who wants to work in this profession
needs that bit of paper, but that is not the point.

How can I put this? Your prime objective is to run a professional body,
admittedly on a sound financial footing. I have never been convinced that this
is how you see your role. You seem to be running a business supported by a
professional body. Isn’t that the wrong way round? So, thinking ahead to next
year’s PDP, what can you do that will convince the senior HR people who really
matter that you have moved the profession forward, rather than just its bank

* Geoff Armstrong is director general of the CIPD

By Paul Kearns, senior partner, Personnel Works

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