‘Let Me Get Back to You on That’ is Not a Strategy

HR is always a day late and a dollar short.
-Chris Powell, CEO BlackbookHR

That comment from Chris Powell has stuck with me since our initial conversation, and I think it’s a reality we all need to be aware of and try to mitigate. Think of it this way — when someone asks finance, sales, or operations about specific facts, figures, and projections, they can typically throw out a ballpark answer within moments.

But for some reason, HR has always taken the “let me get back to you on that” approach. And that, my friends, is not a winning strategy.

Yes, I understand there are times when complex questions require additional analysis prior to answering, but that shouldn’t be the case for every conversation we have. Imagine if your CEO had to respond to every request with a, “Um, let me check and I’ll let you know.” His or her credibility would quickly be diminished.

It’s About Having the Right Data, Right Now

We need to have data we can trust and base decisions on, not just “when I can get to it,” but right now. The world is changing quickly, and having the right numbers at your fingertips can help you to seize the opportunity, make the call, and be the hero.

So how can we actually do this? Some companies may have sophisticated systems for tracking and analyzing information, but smaller organizations might not have those resources. The most basic answer is to really dig in and know the business. Understand the impact of human elements on revenues, sales, and other factors. Be able to talk about how changes in talent acquisition or workforce management impact — and are impacted by — the bottom line.

I read a great book a few years back, Seeing the Big Picture. It’s one of those tools I recommend to folks who are looking to get a better understanding of the business side of things (sales, revenue, profit, etc.). Business, at the most fundamental level, is about people. Our job is to help translate the “people” element into something the rest of the organization can work with and understand.

To be completely honest, many HR pros I know are a bit timid when it comes to researching, sharing, and discussing hard data, but that type of attitude has to go away, or the credibility of the HR function will never be secure.

What Brandon Hall Group is Doing About It

Recently, Brandon Hall Group released DataNow™, a tool specifically designed to provide those insights from recent, relevant data. Instead of just hoping for a solution to this ongoing problem, we built one.

Rachel Cooke and Mollie Lombardi, two of Brandon Hall Group’s finest, joined Trish McFarlane and Steve Boese last week on the HR Happy Hour show to discuss DataNow™, the need for immediate information, and more. Check out the free recording of the podcast here.

Closing comments

  • Stop for a moment and consider whether you have data available for quick decisions. If not, how is that hampering your overall HR strategy, and how can you get access?
  • If this is a topic you’re particularly interested in, you would probably enjoy “Metrics are More than Just Measurements.”

Ben Eubanks, Associate HCM Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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