HR Thinking is Skewed – Why Business Metrics Need to Drive HR Metrics

off centerYesterday I read a great post by @williamtincup one of my favorite “make me think” people on Twitter. His blog post entitled The One Thang talked about a recent presentation he made in Miami on the subject of HR metrics. Using a unique approach William asked all the participants to identify the one and only metric they would measure if they had no choice but to only measure one. He received thirty-three different responses. Three major metric themes came out;

  1. Engagement
  2. Turnover
  3. ROI
None of these made Williams top list, to him it’s all about measuring the retention of top talent. All of these are good metrics and could potentially be the one and only. But wait! 

The problem is not the HR metric but how we go about determining which is the top metric. We think too highly of ourselves in HR, we are there to support the business. So if the business metric is selling more widgets, then our top metric better show we are hiring better quality people selling widgets, or that our training programs impacted sales by XX%, etc.

It’s about the business guys, the reason us HR people actually get a pay check, so focus on the top business metric then align the top HR metric to it. As the business priorities change so does your metric. So make sure you ask the right questions before deciding on a metric. Done, next question.


About attackdefenddisrupt

An executive with over 20 years providing recruiting, talent management and IT solutions to corporations and government.
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6 Responses to HR Thinking is Skewed – Why Business Metrics Need to Drive HR Metrics

  1. Great post Francois. I have a post coming out soon as an interview with Prof Adrian Furnham at Uni College London and we spent some time on this issue.

    • Thank you Peter. It’s the essence of good HR and I still think it’s overlooked in the day to day of HR professionals.More time spent here aligning HR work to business metrics will pay huge dividends and make HR a truly valuable HR partner.

  2. Christopher says:

    Excellent post! Esp: “The problem is… how we go about determining which is the top metric…. we are there to support the business.”

  3. Karin says:

    What, simple, straightforward and sensible-that is what you want from HR? 🙂

    There are a zillion HR experts writing articles and books on what HR *should* be doing and how they *should* go about it, it is enough to make your head spin. And then toss in all the personal bias that pops up in much of the rationale and we have human behaviour soup.

    The first question to ask when considering what metrics: is this HR department connected to the business or somewhat/completely siloed? If you are directly connecting with the rest of the business it will be much easier to pluck the right metrics out the possibilities.

    • Yes simple and straightforward is what I want from HR, Karin, just like you do. And I want them to link their key metrics to the business ones. Can we get it? If HR teams and leaders do not do this their value to their business leaders is tremendously diminished and outsourcing is a real possibility.

      Thank you for your feedback.

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