06 April 2015

Are You Ready for Gen Z – Part 3

Generation ZSo now that you have a better understanding of Generation Z and how to attract and keep their attention, how will you manage a multi-generational workplace? 

My husband works in the higher education publishing industry and spends his weeks meeting with professors at college campuses across Texas. When talking about my blog, it occurred to me that it would be great to hear from the perspective of a teacher that is currently working with the Generation Z cohort. Here is what Tammy Oliver PhD at Eastfield College had to say when asked “What challenges and strengths do you think they must possess to be successful in the workplace?”.

“The Generation Z’s main challenge is focus; they are easily distracted by anything. They will try to keep up with technology trends (strength) whereas the older generations will ignore the trend unless it is necessary for them to change. Generation Z may not be as reliable in the workplace because they are so easily distracted, open and ready for a quick change.” She went on to explain how she has had to modify her methods of teaching in order to adhere to their specific learning style. She explained that, whilst previous generations were content with written notes and an overhead projector accompanied by a lecture, Gen Z has a shorter attention span and prefers more visuals, color, and video, forcing her to deliver the content digitally. She has noticed this often created distraction for the older age groups but it is the only way that she can excite the younger students. That sounds about right; I spent 30 minutes on YELP last night with the intention of reading reviews but mainly looking at pictures of the restaurant that I am dining at tonight! 

There are two key areas of importance when it comes to multi-generation management: information and technology.

Information Overload:  With Gen Z’ers constantly reading and absorbing information, it can be a double-edged sword. They aren’t double-checking what they’re reading for validation which can lead to them being misinformed. However, it is continuous education which enables them to have much more mature, sophisticated conversations with their peers or your clients; you just need to manage where they are sourcing their information! 

Technology Adoption: I don’t know about you, but I have grandparents that have started using Facebook and text messaging to stay in touch. Just because the Baby Boomers and Gen X didn’t grow up with a tablet doesn’t mean they can’t adapt to the technological advancements. Organizations need to increase their own utilization of social media and promote their internal use to drive adoption. As Tammy states, “the older generations will ignore the trend unless it is necessary for them to change”. I am hearing of more and more companies that are either implementing a BYOD (bring your own device) to work program or providing these devices in an effort to increase mobility and productivity. Just look at it this way, you will have the Millennials and Gen Z’ers to drive internal enablement!

Whether the classroom or the office, it doesn’t change how these individuals will continue to learn and remain  involved. Whilst Baby Boomers still maintain a vast majority of leadership roles today, this is on the decline. Soon you will have Gen X’ers in these seats with a closer connection to the younger generation. Let’s face it, historically, each generation has over emphasized the flaws and disputes the strengths of its younger generation.  But the fact is, each generation has their own strengths. Whilst they are all different, they will be complimentary to one another. The success of an organization’s talent management will depend upon the education of its leadership and its understanding of what they need to do in order to leverage the talents of all four age groups.

31 March 2015

Three Interview Tips That You've Never Heard Before

274c09fAfter putting on your best outfit and watching a range of YouTube videos in order to perfect a Windsor knot for the tie that won’t be too distracting but will make you stand out, you head out of the door to what could be a life-changing interview… but are you prepared?

Having spent a large amount of my university career applying for placement opportunities, I have read as much of the research into best interview practice as I could find. Although the phrase ‘practice makes perfect’ is appropriate in this context, you can never be over prepared for an interview.

One thing you need to remember before attending an interview is that the employers have read your CV and they have asked you to attend an interview; so you’ve already made it further than a lot of the people who have applied for the same position.

Many of you will find articles online which will outline the ‘common interview tips’:

  • Do your research and be prepared
  • Arrive on time
  • Dress appropriately
  • Be honest
  • Stay calm

But here are three interview tips that you may never have heard before:

Shakin’ Stevens

When you’re nervous your body goes into ‘Fight or Flight’ mode, meaning that adrenaline is released causing you to experience the typical symptoms associated with nerves. One unusual – but effective – way of stopping your body from shaking is to clench your buttocks! If you’re having problems with your voice shaking, open your throat by sticking your tongue out as far as it will go and sing Humpty Dumpty out loud.
N.B. This might attract some strange looks in your direction so maybe do this before the interview.

Look Into My Eyes

One of the obvious ones that most people will know about is to always make eye-contact with the interviewer, and it actually could be the difference between an offer of a job or a rejection. You need to make sure, however, to avoid staring. One way to do this is to alternate your gaze between the left and right eyes of your interviewer, this will create a ‘twinkle’ in your eye from the shimmering light reflection. Studies have shown that higher levels of eye-contact can make people perceive you as more honest, trustworthy and sincere. This does nevertheless need to be backed up by actual honesty. If you start to tell white-lies in the hope that it will strengthen your application you might find that you trip over your lies and the employer is also a keen white water rafting enthusiast who wants to discuss whether you go rafting in self-bailers or catarafts.

Questions Please

Questions are an essential part of your interview. As well as showing you are enthusiastic and interested in the role, it shows that you’ve come prepared! Although you should always research the company, it is often useful to research your interviewer. Many people, naturally, will talk about themselves in an interview but if you can find some time to ask some questions about your interviewer (and sound interested in their reply) then it will definitely make you a more likable person!

If worst comes to worst and you don’t get the job you wanted then don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, understanding where you went wrong is key to success next time.

27 March 2015

Autism from a HR Manager’s Perspective

World Autism Awareness Week1I think it’s only fair to warn my colleagues that next week, I plan to ditch my normal monochrome work clothes in favour of something brighter, t-shirt related and altogether more noticeable.

It’s not just that the clocks are going back and spring is nearly here… next week, it’s World Autism Awareness Week and it’s a cause close to my heart. You see, four years ago, my son was diagnosed with high-functioning autism. He also happens to be extremely kind and loving, a fan of a good catchphrase (finding them hilarious in and of themselves) and is on the cusp of an obsession with Saturday night TV favourites, Ant ‘n’ Dec.

As you can imagine, I’ve had to become pretty knowledgeable about his particular needs, and anticipate that it’s only natural they will change over time… supporting him through school, further education and employment. It seems fitting that I reflect now, more than ever before, on the way that I support my business in inclusive recruitment approaches.

There are approximately 700,000 people in the UK with autism but did you know that only 15% of adults with autism are in paid employment, compared to 48% of people with general disabilities?

As a recruiter, ensuring processes are inclusive is a core part of my job. However, autism is often deemed a “hidden” disability, one that you can’t identify by looking at an individual. How many other disabilities fall into this category? I’m sure there are many.

How can we make sure our attraction processes are inclusive for all people? Do we all understand the elements which underpin a diagnosis for autism?

Difficulties in social communication means that an autistic person may find it harder to read the non-verbal cues (such as a shoulder shrug, a raised eyebrow or a sarcastic tone of voice) that neuro-typical people take for granted.

A lack of social imagination means that an autistic person may find it harder to predict people’s behaviour, or to understand a situation from someone else’s point of view.

Problems with social interaction may mean that the usual turn-taking in conversations might not come naturally, they may find it harder to read or explain theirs or others’ emotions, or the ability to move on from single-sided topics will be less possible.

Whilst these are harder for people with autism, it is possible for them to be learned – it just takes time to apply the learning to new situations.

Of course, there are many qualities to admire in people with autism: according to an article by Ben Higgins titled, Good practice in supporting adults with autism: guidance for commissioners and statutory services, “people with autism are generally honest, conscientious and reliable, with excellent rote memory and attention to detail. Many are highly competent at repetitive and logical tasks, including data entry and IT support. Furthermore, people with autism may have special interests that can easily be developed into an employable skill.”

It is up to responsible employers to embrace this knowledge and ask ourselves, “how can we make our roles accessible to all people?” Do we ask everyone if they require support within the recruitment process and then, do we ask them to tell us how we can help them?

When inviting people for an interview, make it clear the expectations we have of candidates and our hoped-for outcomes. When we hear a non-standard response to an interview question, let’s really listen to that answer and consider it in all its contexts. Or, could we consider swapping the interview for a work trial? For if we don’t, we risk discriminating unfairly but also risk missing out on all the richness that such difference can bring to our teams. Then, once employed, let’s make sure we support everyone to be the best they can be.


The referenced article was found on www.nas.org.uk and was originally published in 2009 in a report by Ben Higgins, which was commissioned by the South West Valuing People Board and entitled Good practice in supporting adults with autism: guidance for commissioners and statutory services. You can download this article here.

25 March 2015

A Rational Approach to Selection


Pi Day1The 14th March 2015, from a mathematical perspective, was the most irrational day of the century. This date is celebrated annually by mathematicians as "Pi day" because the date (in US month/day format) reads as the first few digits of the number Pi - 3.14. This year was a special, once-in-a-century event because, at exactly 9:26 and 53 seconds, the time matched the first 10 digits of Pi: 3.141592653.

There are a range of exciting things that you can do with Pi. Mathematics for fun is the subject of a recent book by Matt Parker in which he suggests a cunning way in which to win a few free drinks when out with friends. When asked (or bet), most people perceive a drinking glass as taller than the distance around the glass. In reality, the circumference of a UK pint glass is 1.8 times the height. This can easily be proved by using the first finger and thumb to reach around the glass and then compare to the height. Our brains mistakenly compare the diameter with the height instead of multiplying by Pi to calculate the circumference.

What about getting mathematical with recruitment?

A challenge any hiring manager or recruiter will recognise is; how many people should be interviewed to find the best candidate for a job? When to stop? Is the last applicant interviewed the best one for the role? It's something that mathematicians have considered since the 1950s when it was known as the 'secretary problem'. The problem was solved in 1961 and refined in 2006 by psychologist Neal Bearden.

The solution to maximise the chance of finding the best candidate from the pool of applicants relies on using some simple maths:

  1. Estimate the total number of candidates who will be interviewed, n
  2. Calculate the square root of that number, √n
  3. Interview and reject the first √n candidates
  4. Continue to interview and select the next candidate who is better than the first √n candidates

For a pool of 10 applicants, at least 3 candidates are interviewed before selecting the next best candidate. With 10 candidates this method will, on average, find the applicant who is at least 75% perfect. For a larger pool of 100 applicants, it will find the candidate who is 90% perfect.

It may not be the complete solution to recruiting, but research has shown that interviewers typically stop their search too soon and miss out on the best candidate. The use of this mathematical technique could help prevent a decision from being rushed; if it adds up to better recruitment decisions, it has got to be worth doing the sums!

23 March 2015

How L&D must change: report from our think tank

L&D is increasingly becoming the ‘guide on the side,’ focusing on innovation and consultancy whilst learning moves into the line, say L&D leaders.

How L&D must change: report from our think tank

In a recent talk to the Towards Maturity Ambassadors Group, Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, spoke of the changing face of Learning and Development, and how it needs to reshape itself for the future. On this very topic, we reached out to the L&D community to explore these issues in the earlier part of this year. We conducted a research exercise, the fruits of which we want to share with you now, over a series of linked blog posts covering:

  • L&D skills: is there a crisis? What skills does L&D need?
  • The supplier market: how well does it really serve L&D?
  • Problems and opportunities posed for L&D by technology.

The results were fascinating, shedding real light on how L&D is changing right now, and painting a picture of what the future might look like.

To kick this off, we asked the following question:

  • Is there a technology skills crisis in L&D?

… And we asked it in two ways.

Firstly, we asked a wide sample of attendees at the Learning & Technologies show for their views on whether they perceived a skills gap in the L&D sector as it becomes ever more technology focused.


Learning blogOver 53% of attendees polled felt the sector had a skills crisis, versus 32.7% who were comfortable with the current state of play, suggesting that for the majority of businesses there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Secondly, we posed a slightly wider question in the same vein to an invited group of L&D leaders in a ‘Think Tank’ facilitated discussion conducted under Chatham House rules.


‘Those who are most successful with technology aren’t necessarily those with the most technology skills … but the most business savvy’

Delegates were from organisations including Lloyds Banking Group, Mærsk, MOD, Pragma, Towards Maturity, Trafigura, TUI, and Vodafone.

This opened up a frank, no-holds-barred discussion that gave some clear pointers to the way forward-thinking L&D departments are reshaping themselves in order to maintain and increase their relevance to the business. Here’s what they had to say:

For the time-challenged … key points from our Think Tank discussion

  • Priority skills that L&D needs for the future might not be the obvious ones of technology and instructional design,
  • More important could be knowing how to work with the business, listening to your learners and comms/marketing skills,
  • It’s not just about a change of skillset, but a shift in underlying attitude too,
  • 70:20:10 is an important concept (but probably not in the way that you think!),
  • Curation is a critical new skill to master,
  • Coaching and mentoring, train-the-trainer is also important,
  • Some hard truths to accept: you can only fully control the 10%, a lot of learning belongs in the line – and L&D might shrink, but be focused more on innovation and consultancy.

Crisis? What crisis?

Is there a skills crisis in L&D? The answer to this question came back fast from our delegates – yes.

The good news is that, compared to five years ago, say, there is greater awareness now of a gap. CIPD’s most recent Learning and Development survey showed a feeling that greater business and commercial awareness is the factor that will most contribute to the success of an L&D professional. However, other research, notably that by benchmarking group Towards Maturity, casts doubt on whether the skills exist to get there. ‘They want to be able to respond faster, to be able to support performance … [and] they’re no longer just saying, “my job is to do courses, and if I use technology, then it’s to be able to do those courses bigger and faster and quicker”. They’re now much more likely to be saying, “my job is to support business agility” … The issue is they’re absolutely not equipped to do that’.

So what are the skills that are missing? Technology skills? Skills for instructional design? Think again.

‘We’re three month in … where’s our learning programme?’

Research reveals a paradox. Those who are best at using technology for learning for learning programmes – those who achieve successes for their organisations through this means – are not necessarily those with the most advanced technology skills themselves. ‘They are those that are more business savvy, more aware of their audience, more able to engage with stakeholders, more able to think broader in design – so that their design strategy isn’t just about, how do I do a course online …’

You might also think that good instructional design skills would be an essential. However, anecdotal evidence from our panel (and quite a weight of it) suggests that ID is of declining importance. One of our delegates, an L&D leader for a global company, well experienced in getting results with technology, expressed his dissatisfaction with some of his US colleagues who have learned instructional design at university and go ‘into role’ more or less as pure instructional designers. ‘They’ve got no business concepts and I think they do the industry a disservice. They might come out with the best instructionally sound solution, but actually the end result isn’t pragmatic’.

Designing learning by the book can take too long, given the accelerated business cycles of global companies, and by the time the programme arrives, it could already be redundant: ‘the business has moved on to the next agenda item’. What’s more important is for the L&D professionals to have good consulting skills, ‘get to the nub of the matter, and do just enough instructional design to get the right product’.

In one of this company’s territories, apparently, the ‘preferred learning style’ is now a three-minute video: ‘How much instructional design is there behind all those how-to videos on YouTube? And yet that is where we all go to learn now.’

So what’s the answer? ‘Deliver something short and sweet, that gets to the point straight away, and make sure you’re totally aligned with the needs of the business … that’s the skill, I think’.

Talk to the business

So it turns out that the key skills needed by L&D are the ability to talk to the business, and to translate that at pace into ‘action learning’, without leaning too heavily on traditional instructional design. In practice this means developing consultancy skills, and might call on a communications skills and capabilities more often seen within marketing and comms.

However the problem, as seen by our delegates, is not necessarily just about about skills gaps you can identify with a competency matrix – it goes deeper than that, into attitudinal, cultural and conceptual areas. It’s about how L&D relates to the business under the traditional model, and how that has to change.

‘This new-fangled thing that we’ve been doing for 20 years’

On this point, one of our delegates said: ‘I still think there’s a level of nervousness in L&D about this new-fangled thing that we’ve been doing for 20 years called digital learning’. Instructor-led training still gets more credence, and it’s a battle to make people believe that digital is now just as important a component of the learning mix. Meanwhile people are working so globally in many organisations (including this delegate’s) that ‘there is simply no other way for us to cope without thinking more digitally’.

L&D needs to take this on board and to proselytize for a change of attitude in the rest of the business, because as things stand, senior leaders will still reflexively come to L&D and request a course, because they are stuck in a very traditional mindset. Meanwhile when you survey what people in the organisation are actually doing to get the knowledge they need to do their jobs: ‘they use their mobiles, they’re downloading apps, they’re doing all kinds of stuff for themselves,’ but these learning behaviours are simply not seen as being in the same conceptual ‘bucket’.

70:20:10 is seen by our delegate as having been a useful tool in bringing about a change in understanding here – despite the cringe-factor associated with what has become a very over-used and often misunderstood buzzword: the ghastly 70:20:10 thing!

The real significance of 70:20:10

Some of these misunderstandings come from failing to see that 70:20:10 is an observation, not a model, and therefore represents a parameter to what L&D actually has the power to control or affect. ‘70:20:10 is happening whether we want it or not … there was this trend about 4 years ago to say, “how can we get into the 70%?” Actually no, stay out of the 70% … it’s happening on its own: don’t break it!’

The new skill of content curation is a key one in the 70%: providing relevant resources in a way that can support self-directed learners within their workflow, accessible via the channels and devices they have readily to hand.

L&D can have a more direct influence in the ‘20%’ – and needs to learn coaching and mentoring skills accordingly. The 10% is the only part of the mix that L&D can completely control – and even there, things are changing.

Seeing knowledge as a capability

A trend that several of our delegates either mentioned or supported in their comments was for training budget (and therefore ownership of learning) to migrate away from L&D into the line of business; this is not necessarily a bad thing.

There is a solid logic for it happening, which one of our delegates from the defence sector characterised in military terms: "if I’m in an organisation and I have responsibility for, and the authority to deliver, an output, why would I not want to own all of the capability, including the people – and including how they learn and develop?" Where L&D has final responsibility, "I can chuck it over the fence at them, instead of owning the responsibility appropriately." In some ways it is better for learning to be in the line.

An understanding which supports this point of view is to look at the knowledge within a given team or member of staff, in so far as it is the result of training, as a capability. Again, in the military context: "It’s dead easy when somebody builds a new weapon system: we all get it – it’s capability. When somebody builds a new piece of knowledge, however …" it’s less easy to see in that way.

The future shape of L&D

So what is the role for L&D, if budget and responsibility for learning sit within the line, or with particular functional heads?

We can see this by looking at the way many forward-thinking heads of L&D (we had several around the table) are already operating – as consultants and enablers of learning. Says one of our delegates, a noted ‘leader and bleeder’: "I’m pretty hands-off …

"We have three new projects out to tender at the moment, and where in the old days I might have managed all of them, now I say: here’s three providers you might use, set up the meetings and so forth – but then stand away. It’s the business talking directly to [vendors]." This is not to say he doesn’t maintain contact with projects. If a particular aspect of it becomes particularly troublesome – or if the vendor is (perish the thought), ‘trying to bamboozle us with science’ he might be called back in. "But I’m not making final decisions … I’ve got too much on my plate, anyway."

So L&D becomes the guide on the side, saying to the business: ‘you own it, you know exactly what you want, all I’d end up doing is to translate, and then I [might] get the translation wrong and end up recommending the wrong solution for you. It’s a big change and I welcome it because I think it is Learning listening to the business’.

And what is the ‘too much on my plate’ that crowds out his day?

Spearheading innovation, and doing the strategic vision thing, seems to be the answer. ‘What does L&D look like in the future?’ muses another delegate. "In my mind the person heading up that L&D capability has to have real imagination about the business and what L&D can do for it, with a team of real deep specialists who can exploit for the future; but the actual responsibility for ‘what do I need at the moment?’ is absolutely in line management … So, whilst L&D may get smaller, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, provided it’s focused on the right things."

To put it simply, L&D needs to focus on innovation and consultancy.

The skinny on L&D skills

So to sum up the key skills that it would be advantageous for L&D to hone, hire in or acquire:

  • Talking to the business / commercial acumen,
  • Listening to learners,
  • Consultancy,
  • Marketing/communications,
  • Coaching and mentoring,
  • Train the trainer,
  • Content curation.

In our next report from the Think Tank we’ll be talking about the supplier market; the people L&D have to buy from, partner with and outsource to. What are their strengths and weaknesses, and how do you get the best from them? Don’t miss it!

Source: Lumesse Learning - How L&D must change: report from our think tank

19 March 2015

Are You Ready for Gen Z – Part 2

Generation zAs a Millennial, I grew up during the largest digital revolution of my time. In those days technology was a luxury, not a necessity. I communicated with my friends and family using home telephones and left messages on answering machines.  My family didn’t own a PC until 1998 and even then the average price for a desktop was $1,300 USD. The World Wide Web was dial-up only and you were charged by the hour. I still remember the confrontations with family members about using the phone and internet simultaneously. A few years later, I attended college feeling cutting-edge with my Motorola flip-phone with the indiglo digital screen.  I listened to traditional lectures and took notes in class but spent many hours in the computer lab typing up assignments, chatting on AOL instant messenger and sending email; my we had come so far!  After graduation, I entered the workforce feeling fortunate that I was gradually introduced to these “luxury” items that I couldn’t work without today. 

What was once exciting to the Millennials is status quo for the Z-generation. They were born into a world where iPads, iPhones, laptops and internet access is a necessity and most of them were raised in households with one or more of these. So what excites them? What fuels their motivation? What do employers need to do to keep them engaged?

1. Work-Life Balance: generation Z does not expect to work traditional office hours; they will work during private hours and do private stuff during business hours. This doesn’t necessarily mean working from home but rather providing a flexible, collaborative, and diverse office space. As we know, they are inundated with information delivered by social media so they would rather be in the office where they can discuss and share ideas amongst colleagues. Google was one of the first companies to recognize that, in order to promote creative thinking and innovation, they must provide an environment that fosters that. So today the “Googleplex” offers ping pong, billiards, video games and outdoor meeting rooms. If they contribute ideas and perform at a high level, they expect to be trusted and will remain loyal. So maybe it’s time to remove those cubicle walls? 

2. Community: I recently learned about Salesforce.com communities and what a brilliant concept! These communities can be set up for all types of members (clients, vendors, candidates, etc). So let’s think in terms of HR, you can now have direct interaction with your most qualified candidates through an online community portal. So not only do you have early engagement between the candidate and the employer, but between the candidates themselves. This is a great way to get information into their hands, to hear what their thoughts are on company initiatives and allow them to voice their opinions (they want to be heard remember?). Essentially, this becomes the start of the onboarding process.   
Facebook is another great tool for gaining attention from the younger population. Creating a corporate Facebook page where you can share pictures of events, share trending topics to spark discussion, recognitions/awards in relation to your organization and/or employees. Other channels include GooglePlus, Youtube and WeChat (Asia Pacific only).

3. Leadership: we know that leaders have the most influence on the employee and the overall organizational culture. You can bet that, with four generations in the workplace, they will each bring different perspectives on priorities, methodologies and communication but a quality leader must understand and leverage the strengths of each. Generation Z specifically will want more face time with their line managers and demand more attention than other generations. 

4. Sharing: videos, blogs, pages, tweets, you name it - they’re sharing it; the term ‘sharing’ means something completely different to Gen Z’ers. The fact is, they are constantly connected to their networks and have a broad reach. This is great for marketing and gaining global recognition for companies and products; if this generation likes it, they’ll share it. I see this having a huge impact on recruiting and employee referrals. This will increase the number of referral based candidates over time, just watch…  So empower them with social based content and they will become part of your marketing team before you know it… Look at me!

12 March 2015

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Garbage in, garbage outThe Datafication of HR

If you’re reading this post, chances are that you’ve read about the importance of analytics and all of its benefits: from saving costs, to increasing retention, to finally getting this “seat at the table”.

There is even a new trend called the “Datafication of HR”. The trend is actually not that new. What’s new however, is that we are at a time where HR data abounds, and the tools to manipulate and analyse it are readily available.

But this is not a post about the benefits of analytics in the HR or Talent Management space; there are plenty of them out there (see Josh Bersin’s piece in Forbes, for instance).

This is a post about the underlying asset that makes analytics invaluable: the actual data.

Data in HR Systems

There is no lack of data in HR systems. Most ATS claim to manage millions of candidates and applications… every year! Quarterly objectives; Absence requests; Interview schedules; Progress in the various processes. Every HR transaction is now being recorded and tracked in a system that offers the ability to report on all of those pieces of information.

The data that is managed in HR systems can be broadly broken down in two categories:

  1. First, there is all of the data about the processes. This information is often inferred from the various transactions that occurred over time. For instance, the time it takes to fill a position can easily be calculated from the moment the position is marked as vacant to the time that a candidate is hired.
  2. Then, there is the data about the people: the employees, the contractors, the managers, the leaders and the candidates.
    This is the content that all of these processes aim at managing. The profile of a candidate. The performance of an employee. The potential of a manager. The trouble with data, and the benefits it provides with analytics, is that its value is as good as its quality.

Data Quality

Garbage in, Garbage out.

That sentence is used in just about all of the discussions you can hear about analytics.

If the data you have is of poor quality, all the analytics you have, and all the decisions you will make based upon them, are worthless.

If recruiters enter the hire date “when they have time”, time-to-fill metrics are meaningless.

If performance information is filled by managers who just want to tick the box, the view you have from an employee is useless.

Leading organisations who take analytics seriously have data quality initiatives that ensure they have the right data. They produce regular reports that are distributed to managers to flag inconsistencies in the data. For instance, they would flag that the candidate source is 'Agency' but no agency cost is recorded, or that the job status is closed/filled while the headcount is still live.
Some have even ’gamified’ that process by creating leaderboards which put the spotlight on individuals or teams that perform better in terms of data quality (the spotlight is also on the ones that perform the worst!). This creates even more incentives for ensuring that the data in the system is correct.
Moreover, you can automate that process, and some HR systems have embedded these data quality rules.

In the end, HR systems have been designed to manage all of these individual transactions. With the appropriate tools and processes, it is possible to build an environment where the quality of data around your processes will be quite high.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy with the data that you have about people.

People Data

The trouble with the data you have on people is that they have all been created by … people. And people are not a reliable source of information on people, be it themselves or someone else.

In his recent post “Most HR Data Is Bad Data”, Marcus Buckingham, points out (and backs it up) that “The research record reveals that neither you nor any of your peers are reliable raters of anyone. And as a result, virtually all of our people data is fatally flawed”.

That’s a pretty bleak perspective! One that doesn’t leave much hope on finally driving people and business decisions based on data.

Fortunately, there is plenty of people data outside of HR systems.

People Data is where the People are

If you were a sales manager, which system would you use to assess one of your sales executive’s performance? Your performance management solution provided by HR? Unlikely. Your Customer Relationship Management solution that is managed by the sales department? Much more likely.

Actions speak louder than words! This old adage also applies to analytics and to people data.

Your HR systems only manage HR transactions but there are plenty of other systems that are also part of your corporate IT landscape that manage transactions other than HR. These transactions are performed by the same people that you’re trying to manage in your HR systems.
And what they DO in those non-HR systems, is much more telling than what they SAY in your HR systems.

Talent Management – Connected & Interoperable

When we think about integrated Talent Management, we are seeing a system where Recruiting, Performance, Compensation, Learning, and Succession Planning, are all connected and interoperate.

This is great but this is only a part of the complete picture.

Truly integrated Talent Management, will not only connect all of your Talent Management processes, but will also ensure that you have the right data by getting it from the place where the data is (and that’s not in people’s heads).

In Conclusion

  • Data quality matters;
  • Your HR systems have plenty of data. Some about your HR processes, some about your employees;
  • The quality of the data you have on people in your HR systems might not be as high as you would like;
  • High quality HR data  exists, but you should look outside of your HR systems;
  • Integrated Talent Management is much more than just connecting your HR processes.

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