Soft stuff needs hard data too

8 02 2011

One of the challenges in the HR stack is that of getting to play at the top table and on the same terms as the guardians of the “hard data” – manufacturing / operations, sales and marketing and especially finance. Obviously it is possible, but there do seem to be a lot more COOs and CFOs (and even CIO / CTOs) than CPOs (Chief People Officer: you see, there isn’t even a term for it… “our most valuable resource” fails to register again.)

A large part of the problem is that Finance, Sales and Operations have numbers and projections; HR has programmes. There are figures – nett hiring etc – but in the absence of qualitative data that sounds more like adjustments in the organisation’s overheads than anything else.

And that is why HR needs to be able to measure, track and manage talent flow (and talent gaps) throughout the organisation. The talent pipeline is just as real (and just as impactful in the long-term) as the sales pipeline, but unlike sales or cash-flow, traditionally lacking in any consistent standard of measurement.

If you are doing this already, please share your experience and especially what tools and measures you are using. A great deal of my personal enthusiasm for Birkman as an Operating System for Talent is that it equips any HR Director, straight out of the box, with valid, accurate, objective and stable data on precisely these things – have we got the talent we need and in the places we need it, and what does the pipeline look like: have we secured our future, or are we facing a talent crisis 6-9 months out? And that is the kind of hard-edged, practical data that earns you a place to play at the top table.