Sunday, July 31, 2011

10 “Don’ts" When it Comes to HR Metrics

I am asked what lessons I have learned when it comes to HR metrics a lot when I am speaking. There are so many lessons as this field has come such a long way in such a short period of time. When I first started reading and speaking on the subject back in the late 1990’s the top HR measure was cost per hire. Fast forward to today and we can analyze things like: PREDICT ING who will be successful in our organization by using recruiting and performance data and we can PREDICT who is at risk for leaving our organization. Fascinating, and the possibilities are endless.

Here is a shortened version of my lessons learned in regards to HR metrics. (They are in no particular order)

  1. Don’t just start measuring the usual suspects, start with your organizational strategy and work from there
  2. Don’t copy your neighbor’s HR metrics for the reason listed above
  3. Don’t use benchmarks for the sake of benchmarking because average does not equal better result
  4. Don’t just email metrics out and expect your managers to understand them. Make sure the metrics tell a compelling story
  5. Don’t celebrate metrics that aren’t impactful. No one cares how many days it takes you to fill requisitions on average or if you have 100% participation in the performance management process. They care about what impacts revenue, profit and costs-DIRECTLY
  6. Don’t use unreliable data or data that has not been verified. This will make you lose credibility points fast
  7. Don’t go through a lesson in correlations and regressions…no one cares. Just tell the story on how the data analysis has uncovered something that impacts the business
  8. Don’t measure for measuring sake. Tracking hundreds of metrics is not smart nor does it move the dial. Determine what are those levers that move your organizational success factors and measure those
  9. Don’t use fancy technology when an Excel spreadsheet will do. Start small and if you get traction and buy in organizational wide then move to a more robust solution
  10. Don’t depend on current staff to have the analytical muscle to perform statistical testing. Not everyone is a quant jock…if you have that talent on staff great, but that skill set is not one that is usually found in HR departments.

I would love to hear your lessons out there…I am sure you have your own metrics stories…do tell!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Performance Management and The Atlanta Public School System

Our Atlanta City Public School System has been in the news lately for its highly publicized cheating scandal. You can read about this here and here.

Being an Atlanta native, it breaks my heart on many levels, the worst being what this has done to our children and all for what? More dollars in the bonus checks of high-ranking APS employees. I cringe every time I see that logo. "Our focus...Student Success," at what cost?

I do not have all the facts in this case, all I know is what I have read and heard on our local and national news on the subject. But at the heart of the matter, these teachers and schools were being rated and bonused based on CRCT standardized test scores.

Of course, that made me think as performance management is something I do know a little something about. Did anyone at APS ever hear that, "What gets measured gets done?" And just sometimes employees take this to the extreme to make more money.

I have no idea what the teacher's and principal's performance management system looks like. I do know that there are many other factors that play into this mess, like integrity and chain of command issues and culture. But I also know that a balanced set of performance measures might have tipped some folks off that something wasn't right.

I think about performance management systems for our military, it is very structured and highly technical like our men in uniform. A one size all approach is definitely not the answer at APS or really anywhere I can think of.

One article cited above stated that the "culture of fear" and "higher than attainable growth targets" as the root causes for the crisis. I am sure this situation will be dissected to near death, but at the end of the have some management basics that were either ignored or not acted on. WHAT A SHAME!

When you are designing performance management systems you must consider these basics:
1) What is at stake (revenue, profits, people's lives, children, homeless individuals, etc.)?
2) What behavior do I want repeated in a consistent manner?
3) How do I incent that desired behavior and keep that going?
4) How do I measure desired behavior and other business results (operational, customer, etc.)?
5) How do I stop/track/punish unwanted behaviors (cheating, dishonesty, etc)?
6) Goal setting is an art and a science. You set them too low and you have under performance, you set them too high....and you can have an even worse situation given the right circumstances.

I don't think that a performance management system could have prevented this debacle as there are many things that led to something like this. But, if you have great leadership, that instills a culture of TRUE accountability, with rock solid VALUES that are rewarded though a highly customized performance managements system....then you have won about half the battle.

The other half is that you must HIRE the people that can execute ON and IN the above described situation.

And if they don't fire them instead of promoting them! me!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Capacity for Change: New Skill Set for Employees?

I thought long and hard last week about an individual's capacity to handle change in the workplace. So many times when we are called in on a project we are changing something in the organization. Whether it is strategy or a performance management system. The way things used to look, now look different. And every time we are involved in a change project, we have those employees that embrace change and those that go and hide in a corner.

I am wondering if through this recession, we have increased our personal capacity for change?

I mean people have lost jobs, people have lost their homes and finances....but I hear stories of resilience and perseverance.

Then, I thought about my own situation I am going through all of life's greatest changes all at once and I feel I have a different perspective on change. It almost makes me feel like if change isn't happening something is wrong.

Back to the organization...change is here to stay and I believe change is even more prevalent now. Companies have to course correct and react to competition and environmental issues. They have to do this quickly or be left behind. They depend on their employees to make this shift.

If this is the case, how do you "train" your employees to handle change? Is it change management training? How do you hire employees that can handle change?

Maybe we become "change seekers" by experience. Like in my example, this year I think I have experienced about as many changes as a person can. I feel it has made me stronger and has given me perspective. It makes a new organizational change seem like child's play.

We use an instrument called the CSI, Change Style Instrument, that assesses your style when it comes to change. I like the instrument because it is all about awareness and how you can communicate change to people that have different change styles. Here are the styles CSI has indentified:

My question is this...are we all moving to an "originator" style, based on our experiences? Can we be a conserver and then over time become an originator?

What are your thoughts on the subject of change capacity....

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Consultant-Post Recession

So you think you want to be a consultant. You better think about it long and hard. It's not the glamorous "get on an airplane and bill $3K a day life" that has been rumored.

It's tough out there. Clients are more informed than ever, competition is stiff and pricing is all about who is the best negotiator. We have been involved in bidding where large companies "give" the business away because they have extra capacity and they "just can." TOUGH!

Before you order those business cards, here is a day in the life of Cathy Missildine-Martin, Consultant and HR Rock Star!

A typical day starts (7:00AM) by scanning Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, WallStreet Journal and Google to see what's going on in the business world. Then, if it is blog day, I have to get inspired to write something interesting that HR professionals will read and retweet. This inspiration usually comes in the shower or from something experiential from a client, colleague or student. I love to write now, I thought I would never say that.

After all that, it is time to start the clock ($$$). This year it is all about content. So, whether I am developing a keynote address or a customized training session, or an all day HR Boot Camp, I am building content 24x7. I am thinking about content in my sleep and how to design interactive activities in the's crazy.

My partner, Barbara Hughes and I decided to write a book this year. It has been a great experience, but very time consuming...again more and more content. (I secretly love this process as well, but don't tell her!)

Most of my days are spent marketing, networking, meeting, chatting, and conferencing with potential new clients. it is very challenging and yes sometimes frustrating, in this environment. CEO's are more demanding as far as HR deliverables go, so that is great as that usually comes in the form of HR metrics which happens to be a passion of mine. We see more and more clients focused on their organizational strategy and more importantly, the EXECUTION of their current strategy. I believe this is a result of our current economic environment, companies must be able to change direction when necessary and do it rather quickly. Again, this is good for us, as we love this type of work!

You never can stop the marketing process, it's all about the pipeline and keeping it full of interested possibilities. I feel that if you have something interesting and relevant to say, that is half the battle.

After all of that, I then am off to a SHRM meeting or to teach HR certification or maybe to have drinks with some of my collegues to discuss what's hot in HR.

At the end of my day it may be 10 or 11PM, but I put my head down at night, knowing that I do what I LOVE, with whom I want to work with. Even in a recession, I will take this job over any other!

Can you say that?