Monday, August 29, 2011

HR Metrics: Tracking vs. Insight

HR Metrics have been a passion of mine for several years now. It seems that HR Metrics have gained a lot of momentum in the last 2 years. I get many requests to speak on the subject and our company has increased projects and workshops in this area.

What bugs me the most, is the same issue I observed 5 years ago...

HR departments are not providing insight to leadership they provide tracking to leadership.

Yes, leadership wants to know something that impacts results or something they didn't already know. Here are some examples of things leadership is not (typically) waiting on pins and needles to see:

1) days to fill
2) # open reqs
3) # of training participants
4) turnover % for entire organization
5) hiring ratios from recruiting sources

But give leadership some insight, and you will be a rockstar:

1) turnover % of high performers with reasons for turn and an action plan to improve
2) HR forecast with new hires projected over next 12 months with staffing plans attached
3) ROI of recent training initiative with % increase in productivity and $ revenue increase
4) Average performance rating of new hires with baseline revenue/employee (to see growth over time)
5) Analyze new hire recruiting data and performance data to create a "success profile" for candidates increasing hiring success rate and decreasing cost per hire.

I was at a metrics conference last year and an attendee asked me the following question:

"Our team spends hours on our metrics, we have over 100 HR metrics we provide to our management. I send the document with a return receipt request to over 50 managers. I had 2 people actually open the document." "How can I increase the number of managers that use our data?"

I said, start over. After some more questions I found that ALL of the metrics were tracking metrics. If you were a CEO would you want to see how many transactions accounting processed last month, or so you care about receivables outstanding and what the impact is to the business? Same thing with HR. Yes, those tracking metrics are important to your department to make sure we are delivering quality service efficiently BUT what really matters is impact.

You have to start with strategy and work your way to metrics. By mapping your organizational strategy and then aligning HR to that strategy...the metrics that your leadership cares about become crystal clear.

Don't just start measuring for measuring's will wind up with way too many measures that don't tie to anything. Make your metrics matter by aligning them to your organizational strategy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

To Coach or NOT to Coach

I had the pleasure of speaking at a lunch and learn last week at one of my favorite company's headquarters here in Atlanta. The topic was coaching and the audience consisted of HR Managers and Directors.

Most of the discussion centered around how HR can influence managers to use coaching to increase performance.

After reading a lot of material on the subject and a really good recent blogpost from Kris Dunn, I have decided there are 2 camps on this subject:

1) Get rid of the performance review and replace it with coaching sessions
2) FORCE managers to coach in the current performance management process

I think there is a happy medium that uses coaching skills to produce RESULTS. Really? Coaching can impact results and that is how HR can influence managers to be coaches. I think HR managers must educate line managers on the benefits of coaching employees:

1) Employees have cited the need for feedback as an engagement driver. X'ers and Y'ers have come into the workplace expecting feedback. Managers have not been trained on effective coaching there is a disconnect...big time.

2) Goal attainment. Think about a sports coach with the goal of winning. There are countless hours spent on coaching the athletes getting them ready for the game.

3) Employee Development. Managers can coach employees on many subjects but the WIIFM for the manager is an employee that has developed a skill that he/she didn't have before.

Back to the lunch and learn....when asked why managers DO NOT coach employees, the audience said:

1) Managers don't have time

2) They don't like confrontation

3) Our culture is one of getting things done and fast...all about results.

My answer to the objections above have to make the time because employee's engagement at work is stronger when feedback is 2-way. Coaching is not confrontational it is collaborative. And for #3...coaching is about getting those results, with clear goals and objectives set, results will follow.

Sometimes, coaching is seen as a punitive activity. "We do coaching when someone is going to get fired as a last step." If this sounds familiar, then some education has to be created around why coaching is positive and needed in the organization.

So I ask you, coach or not to coach?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Telling A Great Strategy Story

Once upon a time, there was this big company. This company wanted to grow into a bigger company, so it huffed and puffed and blew its competition over...THE END.
I wish I had $100 for every time I have heard, "Our organizational strategy is stuck." "We did our planning, but it was just that, planning and no execution."

What we have found, with some of our clients is that strategy gets stalled. And it gets stalled somewhere between the top and the employee, who by the way has to actually execute on that strategy. The problem is, in my opinion that leadership understands the strategy and doesn't do a good job of translating it for the next level. The 3 ring binder with all the initiatives, the vision, the mission, values etc is great. Except....when no one knows what to do differently.

So, why not explain the strategy in a simple, easy to understand way. I know....what a novel idea. Use a story, with a beginning (current state) a plot (what we will do differently) and an end (what we will look like when we are finished).

Employees will be so grateful. No more strategy by PowerPoint...just an easy to understand story.

HR is great at this, so get your strategy documents and start writing!!

I wish strategy execution was as easy as telling a story, but it's not. There are several other critical success factors for a successful implementation:

1) Make sure strategy is understood by ALL employees
2) Make sure ALL functions, departments, and divisions have mapped their strategy and understand how their contribution impacts the overall strategy
3) Make sure goals and objectives are tied to performance management system
4) Make sure metrics are created and tracked
5) Accountability for results is a must

Don't let all your planning be in deliberate about your execution!

Tell me about your challenges and successes with strategy execution....

Monday, August 8, 2011

Top 10 Reasons NOT to Measure HR

I speak and write on the topic of metrics a lot. And I always ask where individuals are on their "metrics journey." I get answers from beginners to "we are using data to be predictive." I also get "we aren't measuring anything." I always ask, "Why not?" Here is my unscientific list of why HR professionals do NOT measure:

1) It's hard
2) Don't know what to measure
3) My leadership doesn't understand why we should
4) Our data is in too many places
5) We do not have anyone analytical in our department
6) We are swamped, don't have the time
7) We used to measure a few things, but no one did anything with the data
8) You can't measure the impact of HR, it's too soft
9) Finance is doing that!
10) We don't have the technology to do that

Ok, now for my answers to the "excuses" above

1) If you can't do basic statistics, or even just formulas, partner with an analyst in your company to mentor you. Take some classes, be curious
2) Start with organizational strategy and work your way to metrics from there
3) Find something in the data that your leadership didn't will be a rockstar and in a better position to ask for resources.
4) Data is scattered in an organization. Getting it in to one repository is challenging but really worth it. Access and Excel are 2 choices that most everyone has on their computers right now.
5) See #1, find someone within the company, an intern, learn by doing....
6) Metrics allow you to focus on what is important, you can't afford not to make the time
7) It's all about the data story and how you present the data. If you use rows and columns then expect no one to act on it.
8) You can measure the impact of HR, it just takes time to understand causal relationships and then testing those hypothesis. Today with most companies spending 60-80% of budget on HR related costs, you have to understand the ROI of this investment.
9) Finance can and will do this if we don't start measuring ourselves. Enough said...
10) Start in Excel it is powerful and available...

If you aren't measuring today, start by mapping your organizational strategy within your HR department. Mapping is a great way to illustrate what is driving your strategic initiatives. This exercise will also assist in the discovery of what metrics matter to YOUR organization.

Ready, set, start measuring....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 1: HR Strategy and Metrics Recap

Today I had the pleasure of facilitating a HR Strategy and Metrics workshop for the Performance Institute in Washington DC. I had just over 30 attendees that were eager to learn more about linking HR strategy to organizational strategy and how to measure the execution.

The majority of the day was spent on a tool we use, called the Business Strategy Map. I have written on this topic here.

The participants were engaged as they brought their own strategic outcomes from their companies to gain hands on real time experience with this process.

After we spend the majority of the day on this process I asked the participants what the good, the bad and the ugly is what they said:

1) It's hard, really hard but worth it
2) I can see how this could be a communication tool in the area of strategic execution
3) It can be a collaboration tool between functions as most organizational strategies require interdependency between functions
4) HR coud be instrumental in leading this process (YES!)
5) It identifies gaps in the understanding and interpretation of strategy by different functions and leaders
6) It serves as a visual clear line of sight that can be shared with all employees

So tomorrow, we will use the maps and determine the necessary metrics that need to be tracked and analyzed from an HR perspective...I can't wait!!

It was more than evident in the room that no matter if you are a large corporation, a non-profit, a government agency or an educational institution this process is needed because strategy if not executed is useless.

Drilling down and mapping the strategic details is where the rubber meets the road and where your front line employees begin to behave with purpose.

I believe that spending a few days on mapping strategy is well worth it...

Information on our next HR Strategy and Metrics bootcamp can be found here.