Bring In The Big Team For Talent Metrics

Bring In The Big Team For Talent Metrics

Have you hear numbers are back?

     A conference organizer confirmed this talent management trend while debriefing a keynote presentation with me.   The feedback was quite positive, he said.  Your message was clear, the action steps were practical  and the storytelling approach was engaging.  But next time, use more numbers.

     ‘Use more numbers’ also seems to be the contemporary rally cry for our work.  In the past, we might have cobbled together a bit of information about staffing levels, employee satisfaction or performance results.  Looking back, it was a small attempt at elevating talent management to the higher position of decision sciences vs. just theory and habit.

     With the advent of large scale and mostly integrated human resource and enterprise data systems, we have the opportunity to go from small information to big data.   The exciting potential is to improve our ability to make better informed and higher quality talent practice decisions as well as provide more compelling talent propositions to line leaders.   In a way, big HR data is a step towards maturing as a profession.


Assembling the Big Team


     As I’ve watch talent practitioners further along the journey of ‘using the numbers’ and have found one imperative:   The Big Data pioneers who apply a basic tenant of talent management are doing much better in practice.  They assemble the right talent mix – the big team – while going after the prize of Big HR Data.

     In the sports world, when the coach installs a new playbook, the general manager needs to draft different athletes.  Moving to a speed game – get faster players.  Moving to a power game – get stronger and meaner players.   Moving to a sophisticated playbook, get intelligent and savvy players.  And that’s where we are in HR big data – looking for the right set of players to pull off the new game plan.   All in all, I see four roles with very different capabilities emerging  as the winning team.


System Genius 

Big data is mostly comprised of multiple systems, each designed with its own original design and structure.  Even with new integrated systems and cloud services, a critical capability is to understand and skillfully navigate multiple data base ‘behavior’ for data accuracy and consistency.  It’s not only about pulling reports, but producing quality data.  Remember, the first test of selling HR Big Data insight will be about credibility as line leaders won’t trust your amazing  insights without first establishing the credibility that you know what you are doing.   


But just having Systems Geniuses alone won’t be successful as they will mostly generate reams of reports that will fill line manager inboxes without interest or impact.  To the System Genius role, add the HR Interpreter.


HR Interpreter

This is the HR savvy professional that can bring meaning to the work of the Systems Genius.  Data needs context and at times curation to uncover useful insights.     The HR Interpreter often set up the HR analytics with challenging hypothesis relevant to current talent practice problems.  This role can also look beyond the numbers to  understand what else is going on in analysis that needs to be understood.


 Standing alone, this role will generate interesting HR insights, but will not engage the right people for the right action.  While the analytics may be of value for fellow HR colleagues,  it needs to be powerfully connected to the business to influence line leaders.  Add the trusted business advisor role bring the work to life for big business value.


Trusted Business Advisor

This role if focused on enabling the organization line leaders to appreciate the analytics value and application.  In many cases, the line leader is the ‘end user’ who needs to have the information framed in a way that is familiar and facilitates better decision making for superior talent management and business success.  The Trusted Business Advisor serves as the bridge helping shape talent analytics based on how the line leader thinks and sees things. 


These three roles and the capabilities they bring will form the basis of a solid HR analytics team.  But it won’t be easy and needs one more role – our role as talent management leaders – to serve as the persistent champion.


     Persistent  Champion – This innovation will take time to get it right.  The new world of Big Data HR is exiting and shows much promise.  But even with the right capabilities, there will be obstacles and mis-steps before we get it right.  In the end, our job as leaders is to assemble the new team, build the capabilities and keep persisting to bring more numbers in the right way.

 © Kevin D. Wilde