Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
This isn’t going to be one of those “seat at the table” or “talk the language of business” articles. I assume you know that and are doing something about it. Meaning, that HR is tracking some metrics.
Today, I want to talk about regularly evaluating what is being tracked and possibly making some adjustments. I came across an article in Harvard Business Review titled “Data-Driven Diversity”. It’s a good read about how to track diversity metrics. But as I was reading the article, it occurred to me that HR departments should regularly look at the metrics they are reporting and make sure the numbers are relevant.
Business needs change all the time. As a result, organizations change what’s important to them. Which means, what gets measured should change too. For example, in the HBR article, they talk about two different types of metrics: outcomes and process. Using a diversity example, if the organization is simply tracking how many women or people of color are hired, that’s an outcomes metric. It just tells you an outcome, which might be fine if all you’re trying to do is identify a problem.
However, if the organization is tracking how many women or people of color are promoted within the company, that’s a process metric. It takes the conversation one step further and identifies a process that needs to be reexamined. It could also confirm that the process is working as it is supposed to. Organizations need to decide:
What outcomes and process metrics they should be tracking? Not everything needs to be tracked. The organization should track those things that they are prepared to deal with. Now, it’s possible that the organization will track something to confirm that all is well and then stop tracking it (or reduce the
Why are they tracking these metrics? “Just because” isn’t a good answer here. Neither is “because everyone else does”. Peter Drucker once said, “what gets measured gets done”. So, organizations should measure what matters to them. What does the organization want to accomplish?
The acceptable and unacceptable ranges for these metrics? Any time we track a number, we should determine what’s acceptable or not acceptable. For instance, if the company’s turnover is 75% is that good or bad? Depending on your location and industry, it could be great! Or it could be disastrous. The range might change over time, but the team needs to reach consensus on how the numbers will be evaluated.
How often they should compile those metrics? Not everything needs to be compiled monthly. There could be numbers that quarterly is okay. Maybe annually. Some of the frequency decision could be related to how the company gets the number – is it within a technology solution or does it have to be calculated manually? And how fast can the organization impact the number? If a month isn’t enough time to change the number, should the organization be calculating it monthly?
Who should see them? This was a big takeaway for me in the HBR article. There was some suggestion that metrics should be discussed with legal counsel to make sure that the organization isn’t opening themselves up to risk. This article was referring to diversity metrics, but it did make me wonder if the organization should run their HR metrics dashboard by legal to make sure that it’s created and distributed in the best way possible.
With organizations redefining many employee experiences right now – onsite, remote, hybrid work immediately come to mind – it does make me think that maybe HR teams need to reexamine what metrics they’re calculating. Maybe the dashboard could use an update? That could be a great way to reestablish what’s important and the best method to measure results and effectiveness moving forward.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of London, England17