The one with the stripes

I remember being in a meeting a few years ago where a very ambitious manager attempted to influence an executive by taking them through a very well-known business model for the situation being discussed. To say this approach didn’t work was an understatement and in fact it validated some fears the particular executive had around this manager and their want to intellectualise everything and challenges they had in delivery.

The executive in question was great in that they got to end of the presentation, asked LOTS of questions and didn’t punish the manager for misreading the situation but did ask a very insightful question;

“Why didn’t you tell me what you thought rather than telling me how information fits into a model?”

He went on to explain how the use of the model was of course valid but had not been the best way to influence him and how using it to share thinking and test opinion could be beneficial but what he was interested in was her take as a manager within the organisation.

I think it’s interesting the different ways in that people use qualifications. If you return to the first ever post on this blog I talk about how one of my reasons for attempting the MSc course was to feel more confident and for me to feel more capable. Yes, it would be formal validation of that knowledge but that it would be for me. I’ve kind of shot myself in the foot by writing this blog but that intent is still true.

For some people it seems a far more open validation – we’ve all met those people who almost open with “and I did a <insert qualification> at <insert expensive business school>” and it may be just my reaction but I always feel like saying “why not just be brilliant rather than telling people how brilliantly educated you are”.

You could equally point this at the CIPD qualification. Let’s face it a large chunk of the CIPD graduate diploma is a generic management qualification and in my experience some of the subject specific information is far more about the why rather than the how. Does having your CIPD stripe make you an excellent HR person? No. Does it provide useful knowledge in order to develop yourself as a practitioner? Yes,  of course. Some of the big HR Directors I know don’t have the qualification because their career routes have been very different. I’m not saying don’t get it just that the attainment of the stripes on your arm doesn’t immediately mean you’re fit to serve.

If you’ve read any of these posts you’ll know I am a fan of both theory and models but I think the important distinction the executive in the example made was that not everyone is. I’m for a second saying don’t use them, I suppose what I am saying is it’s about knowing the audience and using the most appropriate approach.

I am fortunate in that I’ve had the time and support to get a few stripes now during my career but if I look back at the things that have developed me the most it’s not been the formal learning, it’s been the application of that learning in an environment where I felt the confidence to apply them. And still I made loads of mistakes…

And just a brief afterthought, if you intend to put your qualifications on your business make sure it’s a full house. Having seen one of my Dad’s friend’s cards I have never done it since he was BSc MSc PhD MBE – that’s a full house!!

And another thing…. a qualification doesn’t become part of your name – don’t double barrel!!



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2 responses to “The one with the stripes

  1. rachel fawcett

    What I really like about this story is how the leader dealt with the situation. We have all worked with leaders whose reaction would have been to switch off, ignore the manager concerned and then write them off. Using this as an opportunity to try and teach the manager how to use/apply the knowledge and theory is a great example and is – of course – what we should all be doing with them.

  2. Pingback: CIPD qualifications: Essential for getting ahead in HR? | XpertHR - Employment Intelligence

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