Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.

It’s over and out from me……

In the last few months I feel like a personal war has been waged against me. After trying for many years to effect change and deliver value by working with HRINZ, I finally gave up in early 2014. I resigned my Branch Presidency and then my membership.

Instead I focused on some positive ways I could support my profession – by writing articles and blogs, by running the best, practical and unforgettable HR training out there (Elephant after all was named because elephants never forget!) and starting the HR Game Changer movement and conference. I was also excited about the HR people who were keen to start a new entity to make HR chartered – I believe this is what’s needed so that businesses understand the skills and experience required to work in HR.

All in all, I was excited about the future of HR.

Then out of the blue, the first lawsuit came. No contact with me first, just straight to legal action. During it the HRINZ Board and CEO took me and my colleagues to the High Court for an injunction where they chose not to take an injunction, and then made us to prepare for the full case before they withdrew at the last minute. Total cost to us has been around $60,000.

I made a statement about this legal action in a letter I sent out with the HR Game Changer brochure. And a couple of weeks ago, lawsuit #2 hit. The HRINZ Board and CEO are claiming defamation this time.

Over the last week I have done some serious soul searching. This year has been a miserable, depressing time and I’ve decided that it’s just not worth it.

I’ve made the momentous decision that I’m giving up HR.

If the HRINZ Board and CEO wanted to break my spirit, they’ve achieved it. If they wanted to destroy the passion I have for HR, they’ve done it. If they wanted me to see that the worst type of HR behaviour can win out, they’ve succeeded.

I think I might be the only HR person in the world who has been sued repeatedly by my industry body. The emotional strain of law suit after law suit has been horrendous. The financial aspect is also horrific. Even if the other party drop the case, it still costs both of you tens of thousands of dollars that neither of you get back.

But I’ve realised that letting this destroy my health and my marriage is just not worth it. I need to move on.

I am lucky to have met some truly amazing and inspiring HR people who I believe will be the ones to transform what we do. I am struggling to understand those of you who have contacted me to say you completely disagree with what HRINZ is doing, yet you’re paying your HRINZ membership because your company is covering the bill. What you’re doing then is giving HRINZ money to continue to sue me, over and over again, using your membership fees. It makes no sense to me and if I can’t understand why people in my profession choose to behave like that, it’s time I got out.

Why am I telling you this?

The biggest reason is that I want my final few months in HR to be positive ones.

I’m hoping that those of you who want to transform HR will be at the Wellington or Melbourne HR Game Changer conference so we can set a road map going forward of what the future of HR should look like. I will also be finishing the HR Game Changer book that I’ve been writing to capture the discussions and ideas shared at the conference – an HR book shaped by the HRGC community and written for the future of our profession. I want to still be excited about both of those.

What about Elephant? Well we have an absolutely amazing team and I know they will continue to deliver the awesome training, conferences and business consulting that has been helping HR and managers build brilliant businesses. I am very proud of the company I started and I hope that HRINZ will stop taking legal action against Elephant once I’m not involved anymore.

I know they have said publicly that they are happy for there to be another HR entity so they will leave the Association of People Professionals alone.

I wish all of you who are trying to take HR into the future the very best and I will be fascinated to watch from outside of the HR world on how the journey to change the game progresses.

Hopefully I’ll get to see many of you at the HR Game Changer conference to say goodbye in person.

So from me – it’s over and out.


12 comments on “It’s over and out from me……

  1. Angela, I love your indomitable spirit – and I don’t see this as a bowing out from weakness, but a decision made from a place of strength in who you are, and how you see yourself. I am know this is not the end of Angela Atkin’s contribution to the world of people and business in NZ and beyond. As this door has been slammed in your face… IMAGINE what amazing door is about to open! TRUST. It will happen. And, it will be better.

    • angelaatkins
      June 2, 2015

      Thanks Rachel – years of going through redundancies I see that those that come through successfully always look for the door opening ahead rather than the one that’s slammed shut. I’ll look forward to what’s to happen next rather than what’s gone before!

  2. Michaela
    June 1, 2015

    Change is always turbulent and does often result in a lot of soul searching. I hope your next endeavour brings you fulfillment and enjoyment

    • angelaatkins
      June 2, 2015

      Thanks Michaela – I don’t mind if there are challenges ahead too but just not like this. I’ll keep everyone updated on what I go on to do.

  3. Vaughan Rivett
    June 2, 2015


    This is a small market here in New Zealand. The people involved are easily identifiable and this is far more damaging to their personal brands as well as that of their organisation.

    They will not be under the stress that you’re under as they are spending someone else’s money, it’s not personal to them. However, most people have a moral compass and will be reluctant to do business with them.

    At this point in time, the work you’ve been doing should not be a threat to them in any way as you are still small. If they see you as a threat to their empire, then maybe you have something far more significant to bring to New Zealand businesses than you realise.

    Now to those people who call you a friend or say that they support you. If you are still paying fees to a body that is sueing Angela, you’re telling big fat lies! Put your money where your mouth is!

    All the best Angela. You WILL be back!

    • angelaatkins
      June 2, 2015

      Vaughan – thanks for making me smile and for these comments. I’ll be back alright – just with a different hat on.

  4. John
    June 2, 2015

    Hi Angela
    i have been sitting back and not taking detailed notice of what has gone on between you and the board of HRINZ but recently have stirred my ass. This last posting really made me think about you.
    There are always two sides to every story and to date HRINZ has been good at telling theirs. However, I know you are a good person. It is not enough to just put this all down to “communication problems” because that is a whitewash over the events which have led to where you are. Does what they have said about you correlate with the Angela Atkins I know? No! It does not!
    I will continue to run my sig but at the end of this financial year, unless things change, I will be looking very hard at whether to continue. I have been a member since 1982. In any event I am sure that the fees will be going up for a number of reasons and these will include the membership in Auckland declining and the litigation costing so much.
    I have been asking the board some hard questions such as why they do not allow Auckland to do things their way. I think there may be some change in the winds in terms of approach but this will be too late to save you.That is a great pity.
    I only said what is plain to everyone- that while you were president of Auckland branch (and while Jayne was coordinator as well) that Auckland was like a buoyant field of voluntary activity. Not only were there a couple of events every week, these events were all attended well. Compare this with today- only two events a month.
    All this was due to not only your work but also a management approach that was modern, open, democratic and participative.
    Sadly it is all too common for great organisations, like HRINZ, to be built by good people and then taken over by careerists, apparatchniks and managerialists who drain out the life blood. It takes time and by the time people realise there has been a disaster it is too late to save what is left.
    We, the members, have allowed this to happen because we have all been too busy looking after our own patches.
    Being taken to court is one of the worst things that can happen. Its not just about the money, it is emotionally draining and all-consuming. When a powerful organisation litigates against an individual it can be cruel and vindictive.
    Angela- best wishes and all my love. My thoughts are with you.

    • angelaatkins
      June 2, 2015

      John thank you so much for this. I know the enormous amount of hard work all of the SIG Committees and Branches put in and I think we made Auckland rock for a good few years.
      Your comments mean a lot. If I’d known the path that I’d go down that day when you asked if there was anyone keen to help with the Change SIG (was that about 9 years ago???) perhaps I wouldn’t have been quite so quick to volunteer…. except I have met amazing people through it.
      I really cannot believe the legal action is the thanks I get – and I appreciate you challenging the Board on it.
      I do want to focus on the future and I’m sure that the forward thinking HR people will make change happen.

  5. Kiri Wilson
    June 2, 2015

    You write the best HRbooks I know. Practical! Such a shame that it’s come to this with HRINZ. I think it’s good to challenge the way we deliver HR – we are in a Changing business world. Without change where would we be? I’m disappointed my HRINZ fees have gone towards this and not the devt of HR members. All the best Angela – you are an inspiration to many – don’t forget that!

  6. Sarah Mannion
    June 2, 2015

    Angela not sure what else to say – I look forward to seeing where you pop up next as we need your skills in our business world! I will of course keep in touch. The Game Changer Conference is not far away so this is the time for people to put their money where their mouth is if they really believe in making change. Take care and talk soon.

  7. Anonymous
    June 2, 2015

    Hey Angela,

    We met about 8 years ago at an HR event in the Vodafone building and I’ve kept up with your commentary since. Yes agree with one of the other comments above that there are two sides but going from what I’ve been picking up on… HRINZ taking legal action is disgusting. Are they wanting some kind of monopoly in the association world? I find it all a bit odd and over the top.

    I am on a SIG committee and have been for several years. Never been a member… always found it odd that I have never been asked. But then again, they are getting their pound of flesh out of me.

    Good luck with the next step in your journey.

  8. Jacinta Penn
    June 3, 2015

    So sorry that you had to make a choice like this, very difficult choice to make but a good one for your own wellbeing. I did try to withdraw but HRINZ would not refund my fees. Very annoyed. Now I have the choice of staying on committee in a place to make change or leave as a protest. Additionally there is the fact that until APP makes some inroads HRINZ has a stranglehold on a market i need to stay in touch with. I look forward to having an option to change, that’s when I think they will really feel the effect of our disappointment. I also have been in touch with board members but who knows whether that is meaningful at this point.

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