Monday, May 20, 2013

Now is NOT the Time for A Basic Approach to HR Measurement

My colleague Ed Nangle, sent me a link to a blog, entitled, "HR Metrics: Is it Back to Basics?" Of coarse that title got my attention.  I read the blog, and then read the research referenced in the blog the Hackett Group.

This is the paragraph that really perplexes me:
The Hackett Group's research identified a "back to basics" trend in HR measurement. While cost remains the most common measurement across HR, there is a significant increase in the proportion of companies measuring employee engagement, as HR leaders try to document the value they add. At the same time, the proportion of companies measuring HR transaction errors increased significantly, showing greater efforts to balance cost and quality.
I am dying to know what questions they asked of the survey recipients and even better, how did they reach the conclusion that HR Metrics are getting back to basics.  Back to basics in HR Metrics is definitely not a good thing.  I have spent the last 15 years immersed in this topic.  I have been "preaching" to thousands of HR professionals to "up their game" as far as metrics are concerned.  I am also trying to understand why an increase in measuring employee engagement signifies a "back to basics" approach.

I have a feeling semantics are playing a role in the confusion over this topic.  To me, by definition HR metrics are those that just track activity and costs.  HR Analytics speak to a much higher level of data analysis:

HR Analytics-is the process of combining data mining with business analytics techniques to analyze human resources data.  The goal of human resources analytics is to provide an organization with insights for effectively managing employees so that business goals can be reached quickly and efficiently.  Analytics is also predictive in nature thus allowing for better business outcomes.

So, by just reading the definition for analytics, you can see that there is no way we can get back to basics, that would be like going back to the HR planning picnics.  HR professionals have made so many strides on the analytics front, we have to keep moving forward pressing ahead with valuable insight gathered from the vast amounts of people data we store.

I believe there is definitely a vital need for HR metrics.  We must be sure that all are trains are running on time and running efficiently.  Just like any other department we need our operational data.  But we also must be looking ahead to understand what makes the company profitable and what drives profits in terms of people's productivity, skill sets and behaviors.  Think about if we had accounting data but no financial planning/predications to compliment the accounting side.  What if we had marketing data that only spoke to activities instead of predicting consumer behavior...where would we be?

Now, is not the time to take two giant steps back in terms of metrics/analytics...not when progress is being made and HR's reputation is on the upswing.  It's time to provide the business with the best people inteliigence we that decisions about investments and people can be made with reliable, accurate information.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Does your Organization Allow You to Fly Your Freak Flag?

I had the pleasure of attending an awesome keynote at the SHRM-Atlanta Annual Conference a few weeks ago.  I am a new groupie for the Talent Anarchy team of Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt.  The keynote title was, Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships.   They went over 6 laws of social gravity and how they help build relationships, but one really stuck out for me.

Jason and Joe spoke about being your authentic, genuine self...ALL THE TIME.  The theory being that IF you are your authentic self all the time, which means at work and play then you will be more productive and more creative and you will build better relationships. Jason and Joe say, "Fly your Freak Flag," in other words be your authentic self.

It was a timely message for me as with so many professionals, you come to work in your "professional demeanor" as that what has been expected in most organizational cultures.  I have been going through a HUGE discovery process over the last 6 months, and I have been trying to reconcile the Professional Cathy with the Personal Cathy.  It has taken me all year to realize that they are the same person and they SHOULD be the same person.

My story is not unusual.  I am an Atlanta born, proud southerner.  I knew at a very young age I wanted to be a "business woman."  In pursuit of that dream I went and earned 2 degrees and worked in some great companies.  In those companies I worked with a predominately white-male management team.  So, I adopted some of those aggressive, dominating behaviors as I wanted to be successful.  Then I landed in HR where those behaviors are not popular and neither is being a loud, opinionated southerner.  So, what I did for many years is try to tame that inner Scarlett/Martha Stewart so that I didn't' ruffle any feathers or make any waves.

Fast forward to today, I am still all those things but add tattoos and wild hair to the mix.  I have learned to tone down the "Freakiness" in some situations (Board Meetings) but I am, who I am.  As my friend Eric Winegardner with Monster said in his SHRM-Atlanta presentation, "If you want all this awesome sauce, you have to put up with a little craziness as well."  So, today I am unapologetic for the waves and the feathers.  I just use those things to my advantage.  What I have learned is that people appreciate other people that can fly their freak flags, because secretly everyone wants to.

I have also learned that leadership is an honor and a privilege and has to be taken seriously and that it takes a lot of social capital.  Social capital is simply about relationships and I have learned those relationships are key in accomplishing goals.  It's hard to trust someone that is disingenuous or being someone he/she is not.

So, I will be waving my freak flag and proud to do so...what about you?