The New Profession Map: putting evidence at the centre of the people profession

At this year’s CIPD Annual Conference we launched our new Profession Map the next evolution in our framework for evolving the profession and championing better work and working lives. To me the new profession map is a step-change upwards in capability, and impact – and a renewed focus on showcasing the value of people experts. Below I’d like to share a few thoughts on why I am so excited by its launch.

So what’s new about the map?

As an institute the CIPD is privileged to define practice and help its members to develop and grow as professionals. Front and centre of this is our Profession Map, our framework for building the profession. Our new profession map, which we’ve just launched, is an exciting update that brings in important new thinking regarding the future of the people professions, and what professionals can do to be more effective. Central to new thinking is the emphasis of the new Profession Map on impact and value and not activity.

We know that historically the profession has suffered from chasing best-practices taking a “copy and paste” approach without respecting the nuances that come in to play as context, purpose, people and systems vary. In the new map there’s a different focus, not on activities but on impact. Now with a core that is principles-led, evidence-based and outcomes-driven the New Profession Map makes clear its intentions towards expertise and impact – and for me that’s a massive positive shift.

Let’s look at the core in a bit more detail:

  • Principles-led: fundamental to practice in the profession is the use of principles that help to describe what’s right, beyond simple rules and regulations. We define three key principles to decision making; work matters, people matter and professionalism matters. These key principles provide a simple approach to getting decision making work for all stakeholders, and when used shift decision making towards the long-term – something we know is difficult in day-to-day practice.
  • Evidence-based: in my humble opinion this is the part that is most exciting in the new professional standard. As professionals HR need to base their decisions (and advise the decisions of others) on the best available evidence. This doesn’t just bring analytics and data-capabilities into the core, but it also calls for other forms of evidence to be more actively sought and used. A whole world of rich high quality scientific evidence can inform our decisions, as can evidence in the form of perspectives and opinions from key stakeholders. Finally, the evidence we each carry from our own experience is also called out – the professional expertise people professionals build throughout their career is a crucial form of evidence. Now all of these concepts are at the core of the profession map.
  • Outcomes driven: Finally, the outcomes focus on are also located in the core – and instead of being a dated view of performance outcomes above all else for financial stakeholders, the new map recognises outcomes as value generated for people, work, professionalism and individuals. The new focus on outcomes for multiple stakeholders means there’s a lot more opportunity to consider short, medium and long-term impacts of people practices, and crucially to make people practices far more influential in organisations. This is a clear signal that the people profession is a strategic function, and is developing itself to deliver sustainable value over the long-term.

Why putting evidence in the core is such a big deal

Evidence is crucial not only in informing more effective decision making and making positive outcomes more likely, it also protects against the emergence of fads and trends which can divert and distract from good-practice. By putting evidence in the core, the people professions now have a clear focus on drawing on evidence in all its forms and using these insights, often from academia. The new map makes it clear that being an effective people professional means exploring academic research, taking a researcher approach to practice, being innovative, challenging conventions and applying critical thinking to practice. Research into practice is therefore key.

The CIPD Applied Research Conference: bridging the research-practice divide

To be effective evidence-based professionals the people profession must embrace academic research, and work in partnership with researchers to improve practice. As the CIPD we see the bridge between academia and practice working best when its two-way. Often the research and practice communities are working towards the same goals and as such it’s important that both communities come together and learn from one another.

It is for this reason that ago we created the CIPD Applied Research Conference, our annual event designed to bring leading researchers and expert practitioners together to share, debate, explore and challenge each other on important topics facing the people profession and the world of work. Crucially the focus of the conference is always on evidence and bridging the gap between academic and practice. This year, on the 5th and 6th of December we’re excited to be bring the conference to Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University.

As 2018 nears its close there’s a lot to be excited for in 2019 in the people profession. A new map, a greater emphasis on the importance of evidence, and more opportunities to network, share and debate good practice and evidence in the profession. I’m excited to see what the next 12 months brings!

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