In the session on CEB’s leadership academy one of their staff suggested that saying we need to do something because we feel we need to is no longer good enough. I don’t go that far - I think we’ll always need to rely on our intuition too. It’s certainly what we still do now for most of the decisions we take about our people! - see the slide attached above.
However, we definitely do need to get better at informing the decisions we can inform.
I talked to Brian Kropp and Jean Martin about why HR analytics seems to be behind all the other areas of the business. Their thinking is that it’s because there’s no GAAP, no defined framework etc and so the increasing interest in this area from investors is useful. It’s also a reason why SHRM’s attempts at standardisation a few years back failed - their standards didn’t relate closely enough to firms’ operating principles.
There’s still a belief, supported by vendor promises, that providing more predictive value within HR requires something like a physics equation - about laws which are lived the same way every time something happens, but there’s an art to it as well. It’s about asking the right questions and providing inputs along with others to increase our odds of success.
It’s why to me we need to be careful how we respond to concerns from our business colleagues. Yes we do need to put more effort into measuring and analysing our data, but we need to address the reasons they’re dissatisfied with it as well. As Jean suggested, that’s not all about better data and technology, a lot of it is simply helping them understand that not everything can be proven 100% of the time.
I liked CEB’s 3Cs of effective analytics - changing the criticality by shifting the focus of our analytics, developing the capability of teams doing and presenting the analysis and enhancing the credibility of HR data within the business.
The key to this is often realising that less is more - asking punchy questions about the things which provide the largest business impact rather than examining data for the sake of data. If we ask better questions we’ll get better decisions.
I liked Gap’s method of asking questions of business leaders about what they want insight on. (However I’d still suggest it’s better still to ask about these insights as part of strategic planning, then the measures and analytics simply drop out of that.)
I also liked Wishbone’s way of presenting their insights back to the business through a ‘Talent P&L’, using business language to present the findings about people - eg:
- Reduced cost per hire and time to fill lowered overall recruiting expense by $X over one year
- Improved quality of hire increased overall performance by Y%
- Increased head count led to reduced process times for key activities, lowering operational costs by Z%
(However, a bit like my comments on collaboration, I still think if things like quality of hire can’t be valued in their own terms we’ve still got a problem that at some point we’re still going to need to address.)
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