Theory is fine, but realism is key
• I read with interest Ralph Tribe’s piece in response to the recent debate
over the value of IPD qualifications (11 January). It seems Ralph has it
absolutely right. I do not wish to rubbish the IPD qualification scheme, but
must point out my own experiences.
I am a licentiate of the institute having gone through the various stages of
"learning" up to and including PQS II Core P&D. I returned to the
scheme to complete my final year, having taken a break, and realised just how
painful the process can be. My method of study was day release.
With five years’ experience in frontline HR in a fast-moving manufacturing
environment, I found the experience of returning to the IPD electives
disappointing. I was learning very little, being subjected to case study after
case study, going back over old ground and having to listen to the best
practice solutions of a predominantly public sector/local authority group of
Perceived best practice is sometimes not viable in the world of making money
for shareholders. You can have all the theories in the world but they won’t
make money unless they fit the situation. This realism seemed to be lost on the
group and, to some extent, the lecturer.
After eight weeks it was obvious my time would be better spent making money
for my shareholders, so I left the course.
The previous stages of the syllabus had given me an excellent grounding in
my early HR career and were most valuable.
It seems the IPD is grasping at straws trying to find things to teach in the
final stage of PQS II.
We have a very professional HR department at our organisation which provides
realistic yet innovative solutions to a complex and very large business. I have
learnt a huge amount during my time in HR and am proud to be associated with
the profession but I do feel the reverence with which the IPD is held might be
a bit old school tie if not mason-like.
The other services provided by the institute are useful, therefore I hope
you do not think me hypo-critical if I hang on to my membership and endorse the
IPD as worth its weight in mortar boards.
The moral of the story is, that the theory is fine, but realism and
experience is the key.
Address the root cause of stress
• Nottingham City Council has made headway in reducing sickness and absenteeism
(January 11). In so doing, it has identified the need for intervention to
combat the root causes.
However, it is difficult to consider the incidence of sickness and
absenteeism in isolation. These issues can be indicative of low performance and
productivity. Many employees remain in work while experiencing the same
problems as those absent.
It is often found by employee assistance programmes that effective
interventions can increase sickness and absenteeism in the short term, as
employees take responsibility for their well-being. In the long term,
interventions must go beyond the individual employee to supporting them in
It is important any interventions employed, while correcting the symptoms of
problems, also pursue and address the stressors.
Dr Angela Hetherington
Time to practise what you preach
• In response to "HR kept off the board as skills gap shows" (18
January), the HR function itself bears the responsibility through an increased
emphasis on a self-contained closed "professionalism" rather than a
broad business approach using specialised HR skills. This starts at the
recruitment stage with entry dominated by social science or specialist HR
How many in the Institute of Personnel and Development welcomed the move to
chartered status as building a stronger professional fence around the function
– perhaps leading to making an IPD qualification legally required for the top
More HR professionals need to either use executive coaches to help them
integrate into the management of the business, or practise what they preach by
actively managing their own careers to include a spell in positions with direct
Director, senior executive centre
Drake Beam Morin