By Umer Raza Bhutta
The professionals have developed a nice hide out in the name of Conferences and Seminars. The conferences and seminars are organized by different professions and attended by professionals of that respective profession. The oldest amongst these are Medical professionals and I suppose the latest entry into this conference saga is Human Resource Professionals. Since all the professions have a very defined professional standards worldwide the same are applied in our region as well. The nomenclature of these conferences is to deliver new research standards, scientific theories and also share best practices. Through these conferences the professionals also get an opportunity to network with their fellow professionals and thus enhance their professional standing, earn new projects and generate new sales. There might also be an inkling of profit making for the conference organizers through these events.
However, in recent years the profit making and networking has overtaken all the other benefits through these conferences. Since I am associated with the Human Resource Profession and my blog carries a background theme of the same profession I am writing this article in dismay to the lack of my own professional standards. At the same time, while I am writing this article, I am proud of my profession and the openness that is associated with it, which allows me to express my feelings.
Human Resource is perhaps as old as the history of mankind. But as a profession it enjoys the reputation of being amongst the latest ones. In Pakistan even its infancy stages are not hidden and many believe are not yet over. The major thrust towards understanding the criticality of the Human Resource profession in Pakistan came during the last one decade. The last decade saw an abundance of thought process, communication, practical implementation and sharing of best practices in Human Resource Profession in Pakistan. Companies, both MNCs and local groups, embarked upon the journey to make Human Resource one of the key departments in their organizations. This understanding led to an increased pressure over the HR professionals. The HR professionals than started organizing themselves, in bits and pieces through opening forums and work groups. Some die hard professionals became part of many forums and started gathering good practices and thoughts from all quarters. The HR professionals than started to organize on a larger scale conferences and seminars to motivate and lead the HR challenge. They gathered a good amount of HR Directors, Managers, Trainers and career councilors to come and speak at these conferences and seminars. I attended one such conference 7 years ago in Islamabad. That was my first such major conference attendance, and I believed it was first for many HR people like me. Just few months I attended one more. I blame myself for being too ignorant and lazy that in more than 7 years time I ended up attending only two such conferences. However, during the time in between I remained in the HR profession and had the opportunity to attend HR forums in Lahore and Islamabad. The recent conference about two years ago named itself 2nd HR conference, hence I think I have not missed much. But now there does not seem to be any dearth of such conferences. Just another such conference is also round the corner and HR people are gearing themselves to attend that as well.
My objection is not on holding the conferences, but on objectives and outcomes thus foreseen from such conferences. In just two months two conferences, what are we aiming at? Are we arranging these conferences just for the sack of arranging some conferences, making money out of these and giving an opportunity to meet and network? Is this is the only thing that HR profession need now. I remember from the last conference, there were few good presentations and lectures and I believe companies who have sent their HR in that conference might hardly had an opportunity to think about implementing any new idea streaming out of that conference. And now there will be another conference………..
HR people need to think about what we are doing. The HR Profession is one of the most respected professions and it needs a mature thinking, making it ahead of any other profession and department in a company. If we start to abuse such opportunities without linking these to any tangible outcome, how will we be able to channelize the working and thinking of other departments and professions. Remember we are not just one stand alone profession or department we are the CHANGE AGENTS. We have to bring in some sanity into our thinking and approach. We have to go beyond the thought of serving our purpose of networking, meeting and introducing new trainers. We have to have some code of ethics for our profession and I believe under the current scenario this code of ethics and set of principles is desperately missing.