The Human Capital Institute (HCI) Workforce Planning & Analytics Conference: All Talk and No Action
Based on the title alone, I bet that you’re wondering whether this will be a blog criticizing the event.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The conference, held in Atlanta two weeks ago, brought together many of HR’s leading practitioners for human capital measurement – the quality of the presentations alone made me feel as though I was “standing on the shoulders of giants”, able to share my experience but also garner extensive wisdom from very engaged talent management professionals reflecting all levels of measurement maturity.
But first, back to that title. What stood out to me were two themes related to the current state of workforce planning and analytics:
Opportunity #1 (the “talk”): Using integrated workforce and business data, tell compelling stories that resonate with your audience (leaders, managers, peers, etc.). At the end of the day, data is just data. It lacks context, a plot, and a conclusion. But, by placing that data into a narrative – stories that connect the data to specific actions, decisions, priorities, or strategies – and reducing the complexity of your message, your audience is more likely to understand why these numbers are relevant to their roles.
Almost every presenter came back to the premise of needing to tell a better story with the billions of data points to which they have access.
Challenge #1 (the “action”): The worst possible outcomes of human capital measurement are that data is ignored, forgotten, or ineffective in actually driving action or transforming the behaviors of staff whose responsibility it is to utilize metrics. This was the second key theme for me. While the process of gathering, integrating, and cleansing data is critical, HR must not neglect the need to establish processes through which data supports talent management decisions, from investing in future hires with much-sought after technical skills to determining the quality of an effective leader.
Here, HR can lead their colleagues in challenging traditional assumptions specific to their organization’s workforce (e.g. “sales professionals with 5+ years of industry experience deliver better results than staff new to the industry”) and tell them how we can improve their business results by providing fresh insights. Just think back…across 2012, what three major (i.e. involved the commitment of financial resources) decisions did your organization make based on new insights offered by workforce data?
Both of these themes were also part of the pre-conference workshop on Actionable Analytics delivered by Jaye Tanner and I; see below for our initial framework on how to make workforce metrics more actionable…feedback welcome.
Finally, a huge note of thanks must go to the HCI team for managing the logistics of a superb event; in particular, Brenda Teachout, Amanda Lewis, and Gary Portie. Well done, everyone.