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To make business decisions or to provide sound advice to leadership requires proficiency in
Critical Evaluation. Key to exhibiting that competency is gathering information, including conducting analyses, recalling prior experiences and reviewing best practices. Not only do HR professionals collect data, they must illustrate its meaning. How is this accomplished?
Consider the HR metric of time-to-fill (TTF). TTF reflects the total number of days that lapse before an open position is filled. Generally, organizational leaders want TTF to be low. High TTF is associated with higher costs, overworked employees and decreased morale, which leadership may interpret as HR inefficiency. But TTF doesn't always tell the full HR story: The pool of candidates may not have the skill set required for the position, or an individual candidate may turn out to be a poor organizational fit.
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While TTF is a useful metric, it is a single, independent data point; additional data should be considered to provide an overall context for what is happening in the organization. HR professionals must dig beyond the output to get to the outcome by using
Critical Evaluation effectively.
An output is tangible—a product, a status report, the completion of a project, a new service or training program. In the TTF example above, the output could be when a new hire starts and HR closes the requisition after, say, 26 days.
An outcome tends to be subjective and trickier to measure—it involves evaluating actions taken, changes in behavior or knowledge transfer. In the TTF example, outcomes could be the quality of hire, an increase in morale, or higher turnover as a result of cutting corners in the recruiting process.
What are some ways for HR professionals to focus more on evaluating outcomes rather than simply measuring outputs?
To sum up: The next time leadership urges you to have a new talent management system in place by the end of the quarter, with X and Y capabilities, or asks you why cost-per-hire increased from last year, invoke your
Critical Evaluation competency. Identify leading indicators of outcomes. Advocate for quality outcomes over abundant output. Build your goal-setting strategy; base it on appropriate actions, timelines and responsible parties.
Lindsay Northon, M.A., SHRM-SCP (@SHRMLindsay), is HR competencies specialist at SHRM.
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