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Building an HR culture where analytics can thrive

Culture HR Analytics

We hear it all the time and we get it – HR needs to continue to build proficiency in analytics. However, it’s not enough to just hire an analytics expert or get your first analytics project off the ground. There are pieces that need to be in place in and around the analytics in order to be successful. This requires a different HR culture and approach, and the (continued) development of core competencies outside the realm of transactional HR skills.

You need an HR organization that is genuinely committed to a new model – one of being a change enabler and helping drive the people-side of business outcomes. This means articulating the opportunity and understanding the issue, consulting, driving decisions, planning & implementing change, and optimizing results. When combined with analytics capabilities, this is the full package and one the business will embrace.  

This week we’ll look at the building blocks of an HR culture where analytics can thrive. Next week we’ll delve into the competencies that need to accompany this.

Building HR Culture so Analytics Can Thrive 
To become a great business partner, HR needs to continue the pivot towards becoming an enabling function with a focus on delivering client value. The goal is genuine partner relationships with your internal clients where goals are aligned, wins are mutual, and each party brings something unique to the table which is both valued and appreciated. 

Think about your HR Culture at the moment, what are the key values, goals, and assumptions you operate on.

Now think about an HR organization that is built on the following:  

  • Focuses on customer value first and foremost
  • Builds customer value through effective people programs
  • Strives for clarity in who the customer is, what they do, and what their needs are
  • Does the right things
  • Does things right.

You may be close to this or you may be far off. The important thing is to spend some time here and reflect on who you are as an HR organization and where you want to be. Identify any gaps between these two and decide on how to close the gap. Spending some time on the foundational beliefs and values is important, as it informs the actions and behaviors we take.

If you build an organization that focuses first and foremost on delivering customer value, you start to evaluate activities against a measure of effectiveness and value-add. No more analytics or metrics for the sake of analytics, and no more “we do this because we always have.” You start to become more conscious of what you are doing with the end in mind.

Embed Yourself

Understanding your HR culture and building productive and collaborative relationships is where the journey to becoming a valued business partner must start. 

With the right values in place, HR is positioned to become a critical component of how internal customers or LoBs deliver value for the organization at large. 

This means getting to the core of the customer’s business, processes, desired outcomes, and the competitive environment that they work in. In addition, an effective HR function will also need to know them as people, colleagues and "producers". 

You can’t help and you can’t deliver value if you don’t know, really know, who the customer is and what drives them.

Ask. Ask. Ask.

There are some very simple constructs here: 

  • If you don’t know who your customers are, and what business they are in (i.e., who they serve), you should know this...so ask.
  • If you don’t know your customers’ key pain points, you should know this… so ask.
  • If you don’t know what your customers expect from you (and by when), you should know this also...so ask.

Do the Right Things

The next step is understanding what is meant by "doing the right things".

Doing the right things means three things: 

  1. Executing the “explicitly stated” people programs which are included in the LoB Business Plan
  2. Engaging with your LoB leadership team to identify, prioritize, design and implement the people programs with the best ROI, which will best help the LoB achieve their Business Plan
  3. Proactively assessing, managing and mitigating people and organizational risk - or the things which will bite the LoB in the rear end if ignored.

Do Things Right

Finally, you will need to define what "doing things right" means to the HR Team, your Line of Business and organization at large - given your organizational context. 

As an organization, are you moving so fast that you’ve decided the 80/20 rule works for you (80% of the value comes from 20% of the effort)? Or are you absolutely driven by perfection – which extends into your HR activities?

You will have to decide.

Remember, in the end it’s not enough to put an analytics rock star in place or get a single project off the ground. To be successful (and have sustained success) you need to build the right culture and accompanying competencies to ensure your analytics investment delivers value.  

Next week we’ll look at the key competencies HR should build upon that are aligned with analytics success.

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This blog is adapted from our Playbook: HR Business Partners - A Practical Guide to Becoming Data Driven.  See Playbook 2 for this particular focus.

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Topics: 5 Minute Fridays