HRExaminer v3.44 November 2, 2012
Table of Contents
I have been “preaching” for the last few years for HR to get on the metrics train. I am happy to report that the train is going somewhere.
When HR professionals grapple with all the people related data for awhile, I always get the following question:
“How do I make sense of all this?”
Well, the answer is not as simple as you may think. Data visualization has been a huge challenge for our company, many of my colleagues that focus on HR data, and for me.
The problem is that HR data resides in many different places that just obtaining the data is exhausting. Then, once you have all the requisite data in one repository, you have to figure out what it is saying, trending and/or predicting.
You then have to prepare the data so it is usable and meaningful to the leaders in the organization. The good news is we have come a LONG way since I first started focusing on HR data. We now have technology like Visier Analytics that, with a click of a button, produce beautiful charts and graphs that can be sent to anyone that needs the information.
Yet just having great technology that can analyze and visualize the data is not the end game. You have to be able to tell a compelling data story that leads to ACTION or CHANGE in the organization.
According to the author Daniel Pink, from his book, A Whole New Mind, “When facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, each one becomes less valuable. What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact.” “And that is the essence of the aptitude of Story–context enriched by emotion.”
By researching what makes a great story and sprinkling in some of my own successes and failures, I believe a good data story has the following five elements:
- Call to action
The setting or backstory is a description of the current situation. For example, if you are going to build a case for a rewards and recognition program that you know will reduce turnover, you must give the company history on turnover and what that costs the company.
The plot is a sequence of events. Back to our example, by showing events like customer attrition, high performer turnover and increased turnover related costs the plot begins to thicken.
The conflict is a struggle between to or more forces in a story. The conflict is where it can get tricky. I often use the competition as the opposing force. I also use the “remaining the status quo” vs. “fixing what’s wrong” as the opposing forces. So, in our turnover example, I might quote average turnover figures for the industry and show where the company stands in relation to its competitors. Also, painting the picture of “what will happen if this trend continues” often works very well.
The resolution occurs when the problem is solved. This is where HR can gain credibility. Don’t just tell leadership a great data story, but show them the potential solutions that you have created and what the anticipated ROI is for the chosen solution.
The call to action is just that, asking for something different to happen. In the turnover example, the call to action would be an investment in a new rewards recognition program in order to increase performance, which in turn will increase revenues.
Gone are the days of rows and columns of data in an excel spreadsheet. Using compelling “pictures” and a great relatable story are two ways to be an HR Rockstar in your organization.
Marketing that works well has the net effect of reversing the flow of the phone traffic and lead generation. With no clear marketing strategy, the enterprise is forced to identify every potential sales target by name and then reach out and create the relationship. The hard work of physical lead generation is a part of building or rebuilding a business. Marketing, when executed effectively, is all about making the prospect of doing business with you so attractive that the normal dynamics of promotion become inverted.
It is an offensive game that deteriorates at the moment that it shifts to the defense.
Recruiting, as currently practiced, is a defensive and reactive process full of promotional techniques. Placing an ad on a job board, hiring a staffing or search firm, and, filling a requirement after it is identified are all reactive behaviors executed in defense of a set of circumstances that happen out of the control of the recruiter. The industry that has grown up to support Recruiters and other HR professionals.
The problem with promotion as a development tool is that it makes people want to run away. Promotion, as demonstrated by the cold call or the surprise demonstration, introduces the ‘prospect’ to a strange thing and asks that s/he consider it without regard to schedule, quality or need. The presence of fear in promotional tools is precisely the reason that cold calls and direct marketing approaches have such low rates of closing. When you reach out cold to a prospect, your batting average falls rapidly.
Attraction, on the other hand, gradually and interestingly introduces the prospect with no threat of immediate sales pressure. Usually, attraction oriented tools and processes give the prospects something of value well in advance of the sales pitch. Advertising is much more about attraction, through increasing brand awareness. Advertising takes time and focus. It operates on different rhythms than the direct approach. It is friendlier with a relaxed pace. Community development is an even longer path.
Now, of course, you have to beat the bushes to get started or restarted. Recruiting in an early stage enterprise has a higher promotional content than a mature operation should have. But, promotion as a development tool is best left to fly by night operations. The question is why the Recruiting industry has avoided the more productive approach of building attraction into its basic processes.
The acquisition and maintenance of Human Capital requires a solid infusion of regular capital. Since the question is rarely understood in those terms, Recruiting is treated as an expense rather than as an investment. Recruiting is an investment and always requires an investment at the front end. Technique that attract candidates are the best ways to convert so called passive seekers into active seekers.
Five Links: Skills Gap
- Mexico Is Now A Top Producer Of Engineers But Where Are The Jobs?
“President Felipe Calder on last month boasted that Mexico graduates 130,000 engineers and technicians a year from universities and specialized high schools, more than Canada, Germany or even Brazil, which has nearly twice the population of Mexico.” But, solving the skills gap doesn’t instantaneously produce employment for the upwardly skilled. Building a strong job creation engine is the key to holding on to the talent you have. The Mexico lessons are important for any city or region.
- The Entrepreneur Subculture
On average, entrepreneurs are not young and they don’t work in Silicon Valley. This is a quick attempt to put some meat on the stereotype of our primary job creators.
- Is College Worth It?
This question was never on the table before we all lost 40% of our net worth and media incomes dropped 20%. “Though degreed adults as a whole have lower unemployment, youth unemployment and probably more important underemployment remains high for college grads. A shocking 53% of recent graduates are jobless or underemployed. This has fed through into popular culture, with student loan debt relief being part of the grab bag of demands made by the various “Occupy” movements. When you graduate from college with huge, non-dischargeable debts, and you can’t find a job, particularly in your chosen field, you no doubt complain loudly about this to your friends.”
- High Skill Immigration, A Resource
Bookmark it and its other half. (and see IT Pay Raises to Be Twice National Norm)
- Startup Communities Building Regional Clusters
Building a skilled workforce is long range thinking that can only be tackled regionally. Of course, all advantage is temporary and infrastructure has to keep looking forward.
- How To Be Good At Anything
There are only 4 steps. Solving the skills gap is all about the point in this cycle when investments are made.
- Do it
- Get feedback on how you suck
- Study how to improve at where you suck
- (Today) The Skills Gap: Talent Shortages and What They Mean
John Sumser takes you through the various ways people are thinking about the “quality” problem.
- 10 Ways to Effectively Market Your HR Business Using Social Media
A conversation with Sumser and Mark Willaman
- Enterprise Games – Merging of Video Games and Business Operations
Webinar from OReilly. If you are interested in Gamification this is a can’t miss webinar on November 17.
There used to be two ways to tell someone something, in person or in writing. Writing was a more formal way of communicating that was always “on the record.” Talking was more informal, and was usually off the record. Even if someone asked about your conversation later, memories are imperfect and you could always deny it.
Now there are many different ways to communicate-email, text, twitter, facebook, linkedin, google voice, youtube, chat. You can broadcast to many people at once, or send direct messages to one or a few people. Each channel has its own level of formality attached based on your relationship with the other person, how the connection was made, whether the communication is scheduled or unscheduled, and how fast the sender expects or needs a response.
When fax, and then email, became primary business tools, the speed of written communication changed dramatically. No letters had to be mailed and delivered, no memos had to be distributed by hand. For awhile, the way to really get to someone was to fax bomb them late Friday afternoon with something that would require them to work over the weekend. For awhile, it was possible to stop the flood of communication to focus on the work at hand. Now you have to turn your phones and computers off and become a digital hermit. Many people would never consider it.
I just got back from TRU London and HR Tech Europe conferences. Travel on airplanes where I had to turn off “electronic devices,” long international flights without WiFi, and complex or expensive cell phone availability disrupted my normal routines. Instead of texting my kids on my cell phone, I opened up Google Voice and sent them text messages through the internet. Instead of calling my partner to make arrangements on where to meet, we sent each other tweets.
I also sat in on sessions where people talked about how you can’t reach younger employees through email because they consider it spam. We discussed how your choice of communication channel affects both the message and how it’s perceived.
Quick, informal communications like chat, DM or internal systems like Yammer are seen as a natural part of doing the work. Longer and more formal communications like email or “on the record” chats are seen as more threatening, or as administrative (and therefore useless).
In person communications like meetings and phone calls are more disruptive than a written note. Both people have to stop what they are doing to talk. Discussion requires immediate response. So while it’s still a great way to get quick decisions, answers or feedback, in-person conversations are often scheduled in advance and tend to be more formal.
Our new ways of communicating have added nuance and changed to our views. So it’s really important to consider what tool you use to communicate and what message you send along with the words.
It’s also important to understand that there is no such thing as “off the record.” Every digital communication is either directly recorded or there is a record of it. Anything you type into a device can be retrieved, even if you delete it. The person next to you probably has several different devices that can take your picture, record your conversation and send it to someone else instantly.
This will become even more important as new HR Tech tools collect and analyze data about how you work and who you connect with. There are tools to crowd-source performance reviews based on reviews and endorsements from everyone you work with, not just your manager. There are tools to find the experts in your company to ask them for help. And there are companies looking for and analyzing everything you do online to see your digital exhaust to understand what you are interested in and good at, so they can find you or sell that information to someone else.
I’m skeptical about the usefulness of a lot of this stuff. To me, it just looks like Facebook with infographics for work. Many of the “new” tools I saw are just another system or program to distract people from doing their actual work. Even the vendors don’t really understand what they will learn or how it can or should be used. But it is crystal clear that everyone is focused on collecting every little digital crumb, while encouraging everyone to make more.
So before you send the next message or schedule that meeting, think about how much you are interrupting someone, the level of formality you want to convey, and the true urgency of the issue. And remember, everything is on the record.