Posted by: Professionals In Human Resources Association (PIHRA) | July 3, 2012

HR Concepts: How Are We (HR) Doing?

HR Concepts: How Are We (HR) Doing?
by Mike Deblieux, SPHR-CA

A successful HR Professional thrives in a world of evaluation and measurement. They never accept a “hunch” about how things are going. They use facts to draw objective conclusions about issues, questions and programs.

HR Professionals could, however, do a little less assuming and a little more measuring when it comes to evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of their own programs. It is a responsibility that is too often put off for another day.

Human Resources is the process of designing and implementing formal systems to allow an organization to make efficient and effective use of human talent to achieve organizational goals. A system requires an effective feedback loop to function correctly. It requires ongoing evaluation and refinement.

HR is no different. The long-term success of an HR system depends on reliable feedback. HR must be measured. It must use measured feedback to adjust and adapt to the changing needs of an organization.

The pillar of HR feedback is the strategic goal of an organization. Strategic by another name is different. It is the key characteristics that make an organization unique and special in the eyes of consumers. It is the reason a consumer chooses one organization over another. An effective HR program constantly measures itself in relationship to creating that difference.

Selection provides one example of measuring HR against a strategic goal. It is one thing to place warm bodies into vacant positions. It is quite another to set up a system to evaluate the effectiveness of sourcing, interviewing, and on-boarding candidates who add to the strategic difference of the organization. Organizations like Disneyland and Zappos provide excellent examples of employers with on-going measurements of the effectiveness of their selection programs. The question in these quality organizations like these is not, Did we fill the position? It is, Did we find the right person to fill the position in the right way to make a strategic difference? It takes more time to answer that question.

Measurement is not easy. It requires careful planning. It involves collaborating with constituents. It takes some statistical skills. How to Measure Human Resources Management by Jac Fitz-enz is a starting point. The HR Scorecard by Brian Becker, Mark Huselid, and Dave Ulrich is another. HR From the Outside In by Dave Ulrich, et. al. is another great resource. It should be on your bookshelf next to the other two books filled with yellow highlights, dog-eared pages, and sticky notes.

Measurement does not always have to be sophisticated. Some simple measures can be very insightful. Many retail establishments have a customer feedback form on the counter. Websites frequently ask if you would like to provide feedback on your visit. A few HR Departments have a customer feedback form; some send out an e-survey from time to time. More should consider the possibilities and take action to measure their success.

Face-to-face feedback can be very helpful. It can be a little embarrassing and a little tougher to swallow. It can also be very informative. One HR Director makes the rounds of her Executive Team two times each year. She asks each executive to answer four questions. She assures them that her goal is to learn and to constantly improve HR services and programs. Her questions are:

  • On a scale of one to five, how would you rate my performance as a member of the Executive Team? (If they answer five) What do you like about what I am doing? (If they answer less than five) What can I do to earn a five from you?
  • How do you and the members of your team feel when you leave HR after coming to us for help?
  • What does HR do that helps you and your team contribute to the strategic goals of our employer?
  • What does HR do that gets in the way of you and your team contributing to the strategic goals of our company?

She collects information from all Executive Team members. She summarizes the feedback and makes a presentation to the Executive Team and the HR team. She assumes responsibility for action items to make necessary adjustments and improvements. Most of her Executive Team counterparts have followed her lead and modified the questions for their own departments.

Another HR teamed up with the Marketing Director to conduct employee focus groups. HR wanted to measure how employees viewed their role in the organization. Marketing had the expertise to find out. The professionally conducted focus groups gave valuable customer (aka employee) feedback to help HR refine its approach to providing employee services.

Measurement and feedback are fundamental HR concepts. They are normally thought of as tools for evaluating employee performance. Successful HR Professionals understand the importance of using them to evaluate the full range of HR programs and services.

Mike Deblieux, SPHR-CA, presents on-site seminars and workshops for front-line workplace leaders. He provides coaching support for first-line supervisors. He facilitates team retreats and supports HR professionals through special projects to help their organizations achieve strategic goals. Mike writes HR Concepts to help HR professionals better understand and use fundamental HR principles. Share your feedback on this article with Mike at


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