To show the importance of what this article covers to an HR professional’s effectiveness – and sanity! – we want to start with a brief “cautionary” tale. We were asked to help the executive leadership team of the IT department of a Canadian bank determine the data they needed to improve hiring decisions for specific senior IT positions. They had asked an HR analyst with the bank to provide them with data to make better and often urgent decisions. Competition for these mission-critical positions is very acute between financial institutions. A bank needs to move quickly when a need or opportunity arises. And that was the extent of the instruction they gave to the analyst: “Bring us the data!” The analyst worked for two weeks gathering data and then made a presentation that included over thirty slides of dense charts and complex graphics; the analyst had basically downloaded every piece of information on senior IT positions across the bank. Unfortunately, it was of little or no help to the executives who were formulating strategy, managing risks, and making hiring decisions. As the executive who brought us in to help said: “After the 3rd slide my eyes started to glaze over. I had no idea what I was being told or what insights I was supposed to take away from it all. There was no structure and no viable conclusion.”
The evolution of data capture technologies now means that organizations have oceans of data to work with. The problem with this – and it is a “problem”, not merely a “challenge” – is that we need to boil this ocean of data into a drink of water that will help us and our leaders make key HR decisions across a range of issues: hiring, resourcing, training, compensation, performance management, health and safety, inclusion, diversity, employee engagement, and more. HR data analysis is a critical management tool, but only if used in a way that supports, not hinders, informed decision making.
In this article we will share two structured ways to look at organizing your thinking and your data analysis that will make more effective use of your time and lead to more timely and informed decisions. First, we will overview the HR Metrics Cycle which leads in clear steps from defining the opportunity or problem, to decisions and a relevant action plan. Secondly, we will dig more deeply into the Define step of the cycle. Starting any project with clearly defined goals and agreed terminologies and metrics is critical to a project’s relevance and success.
For those of you want to learn more about these models and their applications, we encourage you to join us for Queen’s IRC’s HR Metrics and Analytics program where we cover them in more depth, and where you can actively apply them to both case study material and one of your own “real world” live projects.