Analytics Gone Wild – Increase In Talent

One cool thing about going to a bunch of HR and Talent conferences in the spring is you get to hear what everyone is doing around the world.  At one point in the past two weeks, I honestly can’t remember who or where I heard someone speak about measuring their “increase in talent” to the organization.

The actual measure was something like this:

Take the performance appraisal data from the previous employee in a position, and compare it to the new employee in a position

So, it would be like, Hank used to be our accountant and his last performance appraisal was a 6 out of 10. Mary is the new accountant and her performance appraisal is a 7 out of 10. Thus, Talent Acquisition “increased” the overall talent to the organization.

Yes, you just read that correctly.

This is wrong on so many levels, I couldn’t even speak to the person who thought it was brilliant. But, I’ll try to point out a few here:

  • You can’t realistically compare performances of one employee who was in a position for a certain period of time, to a new person in the same position at a different period of time. There are too many variables at play with just time in position.
  • Is this really the most important thing you could figure out to measure? What about what it cost to deliver said talent? What about candidate experience? What about overall org performance measures as compared to retention, turnover, etc.?
  • Where does the hiring manager relationship come into play in this measure? “I think Hank is an idiot because he was hired by Jim who I took over for and he screwed this entire department up! But, Mary is my hire and… “
  • If you truly feel this important, what has your “increase” in talent metric done for the organization?
  • Did I mention you are totally ignoring time, space, and circumstance?!?

I get it. We all want to come up with the next rock star HR metric that is going to put us on the cover of HR Magazine. Okay, no not really. No one is actually thinking this! If you are, I’m sad for you.

We are losing our minds with data and analytics right now. Just because you can measure something, doesn’t mean you should measure something.

Yes, you should want to increase the talent in your organization. No, you should not try and measure that by comparing subjective performance appraisal data of two people from different periods of time.

How would I measure whether we/TA/HR are increasing talent in the organization? That is a really tough question to answer, because, like most TA & HR metrics, it depends. It depends on your org, your data, the sophistication of your leadership and team, etc.

If I’m already going to rely on subjective data to measure my team’s performance, I would probably just start with asking the hiring managers directly. Is our talent better today than a year ago? You could then pair that measure up with actual organizational performance and really go crazy. Either way, neither one is really telling you if you actually increased talent!

What we need in TA and HR is a governing body who actually comes up with one standard set of metrics we can build and compare across industries. Wouldn’t that be nice!?

FOT Background Check

Tim Sackett
Tim Sackett SPHR, is the ultimate Mama’s Boy!  After 15+ years of successfully leading HR and Talent Acquisition departments for Fortune 500s and smaller technical firms, Tim took over running the contingent staffing firm HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, MI. Serving as the Executive Vice President, Tim runs the company his mother started over 30 years ago, and don’t tell Mom, but he thinks he does a better job at it than she did!  Check out his blog at Because he's got A LOT to say, and FOT just isn't enough for him.

One Comment

  1. I love this post! HR Analytics / People Analytlcs / Talent Analytics — whatever you call it, it needs to be tied to the goals of the organization and its major lines of business! These type of metrics may be easy to calculate for those organizations with performance ratings stored in an HRIS or other system of record, but they don’t necessarily tie back to business outcomes.

    Often, the things that are MORE difficult to measure, are what’s worth measuring.

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