Why You Should STFU About SHRM

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.  If you want to be critical of SHRM, if you want to talk at length of how many things they get wrong, but you are not willing to pitch in and make it better?  STFU.

There has been a long standing and well documented amount of indifference, disdain and sometimes anger at the governing body of Human Resources.  They don’t do enough, they do too much, they aren’t listening, they listen to too many people, they can’t make decisions, they make the wrong decisions…essentially all the complaints you hear about large organizations, right or wrong.  But there is criticism aplenty, and much of it probably deserved.

What’s interesting, though, is that much of this criticism comes from those who are no longer members and/or no longer practitioners.  And rarely comes with a side of “maybe they should try this idea instead.”  And sometimes, just sometimes, those same critics will attend a state SHRM event or the big annual event, take the free pass, and consider the conference lucky to have them.  I’m not saying they have nothing to contribute.  In fact, I think they are some of our best and brightest minds, and could make a huge impact if they were actively engaged.  But for reasons too numerous to list, they are not.

I’d hesitate to say that I’ve been active with SHRM, though I keep my membership up, maintain my SPHR and speak at a lot of SHRM events, both state and regional.  When I go, though, I try to add a little value.  I try to hit the Twitter channel, write a post or two, work the social media desk to tutor attendees, speak or help with some kind of charity event.  There are a lot of ways to contribute, and I try to hit at least a couple of channels.  But I’ve been woefully inactive at the local level, and recently attended my first HRMA STL meeting.  Ever.

But there are those in our community who bust their hump to make a difference, and do so in their spare time.  I am regularly inspire by Steve Browne, a true HR leader/practitioner who puts in more hours that anyone would care to count with local, state and national SHRM.  He went and testified in front of Congress, and made us all proud.  He is one of the leaders who spoke up when SHRM lost their Social Media leader to make sure we didn’t lose ground.  He takes complaints from the masses and, believe it or not, shares it with the people who ARE ASKING FOR THAT FEEDBACK.  Crazy, right?  He takes responsibility to make the profession better, and he inspires me to be better.  He’s not the only one, of course, but there are far too many names to list.  (More on that in future posts, I promise.)

So this week, I was asked and agreed to take the role of Social Media Director for Missouri SHRM.  When I was offered the role, I didn’t know what all I would need to do or how much time it would require, but I knew that it was a chance to help out, spread the message of the state SHRM team and connect with more practitioners in my home state.  And a light bulb went off.  If I wasn’t willing to step up and be part of making things better, why should I expect others to do so?

So I’m taking the job.  And hopefully, I’ll be able to contribute something in the process.

If you are a naysayer, a critic, or a conscientious objector, I’d challenge you to get involved to make SHRM better as an organization.  Work at the local level, the state level, the national level, or any combination of those.  There is an entire profession waiting for help that needs your input, that needs you voice, that needs your energy.  You can choose to do as little or as much as you can handle, but it is only through those contributions that we can shape our community and make it better than it is today.  That’s the challenge.  That’s the opportunity.  That’s your chance to change the world.

And if not, STFU.  The rest of us have work to do.



  1. Great post, Dwane!

  2. Amen! Well said. We need you and need others to step up rather than make their living off the backs of SHRM then turning around and biting the hand that feeds them.

    I LOVE the positive work of Steve Browne and the likes of Rebecca Briley and others as our current MAC reps telling those that are listening about the angst they hear from “boots on the ground HR practitioners” such as myself.

    Kick a@@ HR. Cause we need you!

    • Gretchen –

      Thanks. Rebecca is another person that carries the load for us all, and I adore her for it! (But let’s not overlook the contribution YOU make as well!)

  3. Bravo!
    I have been an active volunteer for SHRM for years because I USED to take issue with what my chapter was/wasn’t doing but I recognized that in order to share an opinion, it must first be an informed one. So I joined to learn, and then I stayed to do.

    Those who criticize need to step aside…there’s too much work to be done and they suck the lifeblood out of those of us who are busting our humps to do it.

  4. Great post Dwane! As a vendor & then a practitioner, I jumped into the local chapter, MN SHRM & National SHRM head first. Offering to help where I could, taking what was good and try to make it great. Knowing no group is perfect, I’ve always participated before ever being critical as you gotta put in before you can ever take out.

  5. Rock on, Dwane. Great post, and good luck with the role.

  6. Congrats on the new role and for owning an opinion in the post. I am not sure, however, that I agree. I am not an active SHRM naysayer, nor an active member. I am indifferent. I just have not seen much value come out of the organization, but I also admit I have not looked hard. What research I have done leads me to think they are a great help to 1-person HR shops and process-oriented HR folks. Is it my responsibility to pay dues and then also work really hard to make a average group better? Or should I expect some value right off the bat?

    Like you, I love Steve Browne and I respect what he does–I just have not prioritized volunteering my time with SHRM over other volunteer activities–does that really prevent me from saying that I think they market too much to their members, sell the PHR and SPHR like a commodity more than a professional cert, and that they are often out of touch with the most senior practitioners in the field? That doesn’t feel right.

    • R.J. –

      Are you obligated to pay dues if you don’t see value? Of course not. And I would say that you are exactly the kind of practitioner that SHRM should be looking at for how to develop their value.

      But to me there is a big difference between saying “I’m not a member because they don’t offer me any value” and vocally railing against what they do and what they stand for (or don’t). I would challenge anyone who takes a stance like yours with an air of entitlement or hostility.

      “If there was more value to me, I would join” is not only reasonable, but is greatly valuable feedback, and you should give it to them on a regular basis.

  7. D-money, If ya need any help fending off STFU moments from the other end of the state, I offer my assistance. 🙂

  8. You’re going to kick butt and do a lot of good in that role, congrats!

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