MCBASSI & COMPANY

Drum Roll, Please

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Finally: the moment you’ve all been anxiously awaiting.

The winner of the 2014 HR Analytics Haiku Contest is Evan Sinar!! (Cue wild applause and confetti.)

Evan’s winning haiku captures something of the very essence of analytics:

The perilous route
From raw data to actions
Analytics guides

As the winner, Evan will receive copies of two must-reads: the HR Analytics Handbook and Haiku U.

Congratulations, Evan, and thanks to everyone for all the clever, funny submissions we received.  We enjoyed reading them, interpreting them, debating them, and, of course, counting their syllables.

Six Human Capital Risks Your Board Needs to Know About

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Boards of directors have a fiduciary responsibility to manage risk.  Although there is no shortage of risk on the “people side” of most businesses, it is rare for boards of directors to have the right information to prudently manage these risks.

Part of the problem is that boards tend to focus too heavily on executive talent and too little on employees below the executive level.  But another part of the problem is that HR often fails to provide a coherent view of what creates, limits, or destroys value on the people side of the business.

The figure below, originally proposed by Jim Marchiori (Executive Director, University of Colorado Global Energy Management Program), presents a risk-based “people management framework.”  It can be used both for helping boards to ask better “human capital questions” and for improving HR reporting to the board.

  

Some questions to bring this perspective to life include:

1.  Capability Risk:  Do our people have the knowledge, skills, resources, and business processes that will enable them to perform effectively?
2.  Alignment Risk:  Do our people really understand our business strategy and goals?  Do they perform their day-to-day jobs in alignment with those goals?
3.  Availability Risk:  Are we finding and acquiring the right people?
4.  Turnover/Demographic Risk:  Are we retaining key people?  Do we have a pipeline sufficient to replace departing employees?
5.  Engagement Risk:  Do our people go the extra mile?  Does this show through to our customers?
6.  Leadership Risk:  What is the risk that any initiative will fail because we don’t have the leadership depth or quality needed?

These are the sorts of questions you should be building into your organization’s HR analytics strategy, including a process for regularly updating your board of directors on high-level metrics, trends, and predictive analytics.

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HR Analytics Haiku Contest

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To celebrate National Poetry Month this April, we at McBassi & Company are sponsoring what we believe must be the first-ever HR Analytics Haiku Contest.

For those of you in need of a refresher, a haiku consists of exactly 17 syllables, with the syllables arranged in three lines of 5-7-5.

The pros would, of course, provide a more nuanced definition.  And while we here at McBassi & Company are analytics experts, we are definite amateurs when it comes to haikus.  As evidence, check out the following three examples of HR Analytics haikus, written by none other than McBassi’s (ever-poetic) staff:

Supply meets demand
HR analytics has
Finally arrived

Disparate data
Creatively analyzed
Creates clear insights

Got messy data?
No worries – analytics
Still a good option

Think you can do better than that?  Then this is the contest for you!

Contest Rules
1.  Entries must be received by midnight (EDT) on April 30, and should be sent to info@mcbassi.com with the subject line “Haiku Submission.”  (Multiple entries per contestant are acceptable.

2.  All haikus must be original.

3.  The winner will be chosen by the McBassi staff, whose decision is final.  Disputes and protests will be reviewed at the sole discretion of the staff.

4.  The winner’s haiku becomes the property of McBassi & Company and will be published, with full attribution and kudos to the author, in McBassi’s May newsletter.

Prize for the Winner
In addition to the expected national recognition and fame that will accompany being the first-ever winner of the HR Analytics Haiku Contest, the lucky winner will receive two books:

  • the HRAH (at the risk of stating the obvious, this stands for HR Analytics Handbook)
  • the HUFAZ (which, equally obviously, stands for Haiku U: From Aristotle to Zola, 100 Great Books in 17 Syllables)

So send those responses in — and may the best haiku win!

 

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Thinking like an Investor

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Ask yourself these questions.  Start with “If I were a long-term investor considering making an investment in the company where I currently work…”

1.  In what areas would I want the company to invest more (time, money, and leadership focus)?

2.  What would I want the company to stop doing?

3.  What aspects of the company’s culture would I consider most important to preserve?

4.  What aspects of the company’s culture would I consider most important to change?

5.  Would I want more (or fewer) employees to spend their time doing what I do?

Since the vast majority of wealth is now created through intangible assets – all of which ultimately emanate from human capital – these questions are particularly important for professionals working in HR, organizational development, and learning.

Can you answer all of those?  Our hats are off to you if have the evidence necessary to confidently answer each of them.  On the other hand, if you’re worried you don’t have a strong evidence base for answering these questions, that’s cause for concern.  It reflects a likely lack of clarity and effectiveness in your company’s HR strategy – and could also mean you should think hard about your own career prospects in an organization like that.

One of our key themes this year is the tremendous power in simply asking better questions (and, of course, being able to answer them).  Asking the questions that investors would ask of you if they were given the chance is a very powerful strategy for guiding HR investments.

At its heart, this is what advances in HR analytics can help you accomplish – asking and answering better, more insightful, more important questions.  And remember – since the time and energy you spend working means that you ARE an investor in whatever company you choose to be your employer, these questions can also help guide you in major career decisions.

 

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The 3 Flavors of HR — Which One are You?

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Based on our many years of providing analytical and coaching services in the HR arena, we have concluded that organizations’ HR functions can be categorized along 3 basic dimensions.  (And these same dimensions can often be applied to HR professionals as well.)

1.  Corporate social workers:  This best characterizes those folks who went into HR because they “love people.”  Make no mistake about it: every organization (and HR function) needs a good dose of the humanizing element that this breed provides.  But troubles surface when this dimension carries too much weight.  If you (or your department) are perpetually trying to “earn a seat at the table”, it’s a good bet that the role of HR as corporate social worker has been overplayed in your organization.

2.  Corporate police:  Compliance is what makes some other HR folks tick.  And, of course, organizations have a legitimate need to avoid fines, penalties, and court time.  But all things in moderation.  If your HR function is actively disliked within your organization (or is seen primarily as a collection of paper-pushers), it’s likely that this dimension needs to be reined in.

3.  Business people:  These are the gems of the profession – experts in both HR and the business world.  They understand and speak the language of business, while providing deep HR expertise to their organizations.  They know how to help their company achieve a balance between people as assets and people as costs/risks.   These are the folks for whom the term “HR business partner” means exactly what it says.

Those HR professionals who can demonstrate significant skills along this third dimension have naturally always been in great demand.  In recent years, the growing importance of HR analytics has further elevated the status of HR people (and departments) who fundamentally understand the world of business.  HR professionals who are willing to roll up their sleeves and tackle their organization’s HR-related business challenges are increasingly central to an organization’s overall success.

What’s the best way to ensure you’re able to demonstrate value along this third dimension?  Develop your analytic skills and know-how to ensure that you can make useful contributions to people-related business decisions.

 

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