In a world of buzzwords, “strategic” has become one of the biggest in business. HR professionals and line managers strive to be more strategic, often without fully understanding the term’s meaning.
For the past 26 years, an association called the Canadian Human Resources Planners has helped a select group of senior HR professionals and other executives looking for a solution to the strategic puzzle as it relates to people management.
But recently the association felt the name no longer reflected its membership or its mandate. As of Dec. 1, the Canadian Human Resources Planners became the Strategic Capability Network.
“We’re not changing our focus or our thrust,” says Ian Hendry, president of the association, which was initially founded by a group of senior HR executives and consultants who wanted to share their knowledge about how to get the most out of people in the most effective way. “What we’re looking at is a name that better represents where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing and what we aspire to continue to do.”
The association’s membership has grown to nearly 600 and also includes line managers and chief executive officers concerned with improving their people management programs to benefit their companies.
“Organizations talk about people being their greatest asset. I think the asset needs to be managed and nurtured — that’s strategic advantage,” says Hendry, adding that organizations that create an environment where employees feel engaged and respected will outperform those that that fail to do so.
It took about a year to come up with the new name, and each word has a very specific meaning, says Hendry. “Strategic” emphasizes the breadth of the organization’s understanding of business. “Capability” reflects the fact that the most successful organizations recognize that business strategy and people strategy are intertwined and that the quality of the human assets, and how they are deployed, dictate what an organization can achieve. And finally, “network” reflects the association’s history as a community of professionals who share their experience and knowledge.
Maintaining a community focus by staying small and serving a specialized group within HR has been part of the organization’s success, says Hendry.
“Some of the best networking you have is in smaller groups,” he says. “It’s difficult to have intimate sharing when you have a group of 500 in a room. One of the benefits for us is, by having a smaller member list, that you can have more intimacy and sharing.”
For that reason, the association has never considered joining the much larger Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario (HRPAO) to help it with its goal of attracting senior executives.
“It’s essential that there’s a strong association that deals with the very broad aspects of HR and HRPAO fills a particularly important role in the profession,” says Hendry. However, he says that the Strategic Capability Network also wants to be on the leading edge and help move the profession forward and he believes that when the smaller association’s members share their expertise and learn from each other, it enables them to do just that.
“We have a particular niche in the marketplace and that’s worked well for us,” says Hendry.
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