Communicating and engaging on our strategic direction

I hope most of you will have seen the New Year update email I sent round on the changes we're working on at the CIPD, and the new strategic direction we're charting.

Communication is always vital, particularly in times of change. But, as George Bernard Shaw commented, 'the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place'.

I see communicating a clear vision and direction for the CIPD as an essential part of my job. I've been using various channels to do the 'broadcast' part of that - telling you all what I've seen and heard, and what we're working on. The recent email was just one part of this.  But the easiest way to fall foul of the trap Shaw identifies is to believe that communication stops when you've finished talking. I'm absolutely determined to also keep listening, and adapting to what I hear. It has been interesting to read through the wide variety of responses to my email, both those sent directly to me, and those that have been appearing through posts on LinkedIn and other social media.

The replies emphasize how you can't communicate to everyone in the same way and expect everyone to hear the same thing. We all have our filters and our points of view that provide frames of reference to what we hear.

I'm heartened by the large number of positive and supportive responses - and by the number of people who freely volunteer to help in some way with our journey of change. I'm also pleased to receive so much constructive critique and a good many responses seeking further clarification, asking what I might have meant by certain things, or challenging on points that I haven't directly called out.

There are some strong common themes in the responses I've received: A definite sense that elements of the L&D community have felt under-served by the CIPD in recent years, and want reassurance that I really mean what I say about addressing this; similar feedback from independent consultants and people working in SMEs, who feel we could do more to support their specific needs; some particular concerns about the flexibility of our standards and membership structures, and about the effectiveness and rigour of our CPD arrangements; and a number of queries from people based outside of the UK about how we can bring to life our commitment to better serve the increasingly international nature of our profession.  These are just some of the most common themes, but I've also read many more helpful and thought-provoking comments on other issues.

I have a real passion and belief for what we can and need to do, both as the CIPD and as a profession. There is much we need to change or challenge, but also much we have achieved and can be proud of. I have been describing, at a high level, what some of the specific areas of change need to be for the CIPD, but we are on a journey and some things will take time. We won't get it all right, and I'm sure there will be many course corrections along the way. But I can assure you all that each of the issues I've listed above are on our agenda, and I am determined that we will meaningfully and tangibly address them.

I will be communicating on a regular basis on progress of ideas, strategic imperatives and change, so there will be more to come, and I want to encourage debate and dialogue.

However, mindful of Shaw's challenge I highlighted above, I'm also keen to find ways to explore some of the themes that I've heard in your feedback in greater depth with you. For those of you from the L&D community who are thinking of attending the exhibition at HRD, I've already scheduled an open access slot on the exhibition floor to hear your feedback on how we've done since the ITD and IPM came together nearly 20 years ago, and whether there is more that we can do. But I'll only reach those in the room with that.

I'm also looking at ways in which we can use social media to create some clearly signposted and focused opportunities to explore some of the strategic challenges we're wrestling with 'live' and in a truly inclusive way - and I'd be keen to hear suggestions on how best to do this, too.  In the meantime, I'll keep getting out and about as much as I can and being as visible as possible.  I talk regularly at branch events, on various conferences and platforms, with HR leadership teams, as well as sharing my thoughts through PM magazine and other trade or mainstream media interviews and articles.

I hope to see many of you on my travels. But if not, please keep your comments coming. Wherever I can, I'll respond directly. But I'll also continue to use this blog to share my thoughts on common themes that I see and hear.

Thank you for your comments. There may be a short delay in this going live on the blog page as we moderate the comments added to our blogs.

  • I think a lot of us would agree with not only the words and wisdom here Peter, but to your challenge/desire to come out and communicate with all walks of our profession. The equivalent of walking the floor would be welcome I'm sure.  Someone once said the CEO's role is to keep the conversation going - which I instantly felt was right.  It's encouraging to hear you say this and flag up some things which I know are rippling undercurrent or outwardly stated themes we need to focus on (like the L&D connection to CIPD being a tricky one).  I have recently joined my Branch Exec Committee in Northants for this reason - to hear from; learn from and share with other members.  Communication with learning.  Learning to turn into action and action to create benefits which can then be communicated.  We need some good news in the face of continued challenges to the world of work so communication is one way we can do this.

    You have laid out the need to communicate with purpose; expressed a desire to learn and act on that communication and then keep the dialogue going.  I think it's entirely right that you should keep prodding us if we're reluctant to do that with you - just as others will prod you if you aren't keeping to our own agenda here.

    Thank you for again, confirming my belief in what you said at Conference and in your New Year address - there's never been a better time to be in HR.

  • Anonymous

    This is very interesting one and wonderful, i will like to be of the member. How can i be?

  • Thank you for keeping us on the loop with L & D trends

    Continious dialogue and engagement will  work well in the internatioinal patform especial in our challenging environment.

    As we are striving in the developing countries like mine South Africa to keep up to date with the L & D market and industry trends.

    I woul like to Suggest the following with regard to future L &D conferences and Seminars

    I believe the international membership for us who are very far from US /UK should also allow us to participate on live conferences and seminars online maybe pay a certain fee discounted if a person is a member and online resources or mateial provided at the conferences should also be make accessible to us.

    Thank you for this platform.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Peter

    I welcome this communication initiative and have just signed up for the Hackathon.

    The HR profession has come a long way over the past 100 years and I am sure with further emphasis on communication, value added, pace, diversity, and transformation to name but a few, we will be delivering to businesses both large and small utilising the diverse skills of our CIPD membership community.

    I look forward to these initiatives and getting as involved as I can.


    Colin Rodden

  • Anonymous

    Strongly suggest that the institute joins the plain English campaign, seeks to get corporate membership, sends selected individuals on their courses and circulates their A toZ on alternative words widely. We may then be able to talk to our Customers / members/employees in an understandable way.

  • It is a very useful statement.  I would be willing to meet who ever is visiting the Black country area.  I am still wishing to transfer information regarding the Careeship Programme that I invented and developed to be successful.