Monday, July 22, 2013

Human Resource Data

Gordon Gekko said in Wall Street that "the most valuable commodity I know of is information." Well that's as true today as it was 26 years ago when that movie came out. But one place that isn't always true is in Human Resources where data is not always the priority for those that make the decisions. But Josh Bersin of Forbes says that mentality needs to change and that Human Resources should embrace datafication:

Companies are starting to analyze payroll leakage (people who may be on-call for certain duties but are not needed), loss (theft patterns in banking), accident and medical claims patterns (liability insurance rates), sales productivity, and even global leadership and talent mobility patterns. Unfortunately too few HR organizations are doing this, but more and more are talking about it every day.
Bersin says right now that less than 8% of companies actually are mining this data and using it to their advantage. The key going forward for companies that are looking for ways to cut costs and increase productivity is to use this data to make their organizations run more effectively. And it's important to get ahead of the curve as companies start to take up that task.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Saluting Your All-Stars

Today in New York is the All-Star Game so I figured it was an appropriate time to go over some ways that you can recognize the All Stars in your organization. Now the easiest answer is "a raise", "a bonus" or "a promotion" but here are 3 other ways that you can make sure that your All Stars are feeling like they're getting their due:

1. Pregame Introductions. It seems simple but sometimes the best way to recognize your All Stars is just to introduce them to the crowd. Call them out on what they've done awesome, but make sure there are other people listening. The best way to sometimes recognize your All Stars is just to make sure it's done publicly--and done only enough to make it extra special for those who get the nod.

2. More Playing Time. If someone is doing something right, sometimes it's time to give them more responsibility and more time to shine. Let them loose and give them more chances to shine. It doesn't have to be a title promotion but sometimes the best thing you can do for an All Star is just let them do more things to show how awesome they can perform.

3. Give Them The Game Ball. The problem with some organizations is that when you get the win, it doesn't actually feel like you've won. As soon as you get that big sale, they want to know what's next. As soon as you finish the big project, you have another one right after. The last key to making sure your All Stars feel like All Stars is to make them feel like they're winning when they're winning. It may sound simple but some companies do not make people who are succeeding feel as good as they should about doing so. Make them feel like they got the win and they'll keep on performing.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Astron Road Show

The next stop on the Astron Road Show brings us to Atlanta! National Directors Mike Maciekowich and Jennifer Loftus will be in booth #623 for the ASAE Annual Meeting and Exposition.  Mike and Jennifer look forward to meeting with current clients and friends of the firm, and new friends, too.  Stop by to try your luck with our games of chance, and provide your thoughts on our research whiteboard!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Now We Have Goals......So?

By Guest Author Richard L. Virgilio, SPHR

Our June 10, 2013, issue of Astronology featured an article about Developing Meaningful Performance Goals.  Our article was effective in starting conversations!  In today’s issue of Astronology, we present a feature written by guest author Richard Virgilio, SPHR.  In the article, Richard explores an essential aspect of goals -- not just reaching for them but also knowing when they have been achieved. 

One aspect of the performance goals discussion often missing is the selection of appropriate metrics to see if they really have been achieved.  W. Edwards Deming, the “Father of Total Quality Management,” postulated, “If you can't measure it, you can't improve it.”  While some measures may be easy to apply – “Attain 97% satisfaction on customer surveys,” for example –  others which are less quantifiable may be appropriate, and even necessary, but difficult to articulate and thus measure.  “Be more of a proactive member of the team” is a goal that seems to be typical of the non-quantified ones.

This step in the assessment process needs to be addressed squarely and directly--no hand-waving.  The ability to meaningfully apply and evaluate the metrics selected must be appreciated and understood.  Like the determination of the goals originally, it must be an interactive process between supervisor and employee.

HR professionals need to have skills and tools to help supervisors have effective discussions with employees to develop meaningful measures for abstract or intuitive goals.  To not offer this kind of assistance could restrict the organization into setting only goals that are too easily quantifiable, too easily measured, and perhaps completely miss the point of improving an employee’s contribution to the success of the organization.

One trick that analysts and mathematicians use in performance and effectiveness studies is to establish indirect measures, or “scoring.”  For example, it’s difficult to directly measure “cooperation” among team members.  If cooperation is identified as a performance goal that relates to organizational efficiency, then the following indirect measures might be used to assess goal achievement:

·         Team members often seek others (me) for input, opinion, and validation
·         Team members often strongly disagree (with me) on elements of a project
·         The team is often late / early in completing projects
·         Project reports often fail to identify conflicts in the proposed execution
·         Absenteeism increases while the team is working on a project

Some of these indirect metrics should be scored by a supervisor; others by team members themselves, in a process similar to a 360.  Scores, especially of individuals assessing another, must be kept confidential, but still identified as to author so that anomalies can indicate particularly strong or poor individual contributions.  An inherent risk that’s characteristic of this example is to determine whether internal team conflict is a result of a small / singular dominant personality, whether the results are beneficial for the organization, and whether the anomalous individual(s) is / are a positive or negative factor in overall performance.  A team of five losers and one top performer may have terrible cooperation but great results if dominated by the high performer.  Interpreting the results is an art, not a science.

When direct measures of performance and goal achievement are difficult to quantify, quantifiable indirect measures are most helpful.  This permits the supervisor to take the indirect measures, integrate them, and use them in assessment.  Consider the following situation: “Bob, looking at the past year, the teams you were on were generally late in reporting out results compared to those without you.  Do you have difficulty working with others?”  In the next assessment cycle, the supervisor can compare the metrics year-to-year and draw some conclusion regarding the employee’s efforts to contribute better.  “Bob, it seems that this year, the projects you worked on were generally not late, as the year before.  Tell me what you’re doing differently so we can set you up better for success.”

Employee assessment will always be more art than science, but with good measurements of performance, even if indirect, supervisors can better identify improving results, underperforming employees, and better show their unit’s contribution to the organization’s success.

Rich Virgilio is an owner/partner of Apexx Behavioral Solutions Group.  He has developed a number of behavioral assessments for use in the financial field.  Rich can be reached at 706-860-2490 or at

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