Human Resources is Bad at Math


The world of business is full of smart people, like you, who are up for a challenge.  If you like business and you are good at math, you will typically go into marketing, accounting, or finance.  However, if you aren’t as great at math… you might have chosen Human Resources by default.  It’s a good decision for an individual, leading with your strengths and finding a place where your skills are valued.

The problem is, you might be surrounded by peers who did the same thing.  It’s a prisoner’s dilemma.  Yes, you will be better off choosing human resources, unless everyone else like you makes the same decision.  It gives the field a bad name, having an entire cadre of people with the same mortal flaw—they are bad at math.

To the rescue, a small number of people who are good at the math show up to offer some help.  They might be in compensation, HRIS, pensions, or from the surveys side of communications.  There would also be one or two lawyers who had to be in the upper-tenth of math skills just to get into law school.  But there’s a problem: they are all really busy.  They’re busy because everyone needs their help.  They are less likely to get fired.  They are at risk of being unpopular because they are disruptive and not like the others.  They have given themselves permission to act like themselves.

Wouldn’t it be great if you became one of these people?  Wouldn’t it be better to have more of these people around?  Maybe everyone in human resources can be busy, have job security, and advance controversial opinions.  Math makes us smarter.  To be smart and ambitious is to choose to apply math, and other skills as well, a little bit better every day.  There are special opportunities for those who have positioned themselves at the bottleneck.

At some point in a large organization, there is a wake-up call to mathify human resources.  Maybe there is a mistake.  Maybe you see the competition.  Maybe the people in the other strategic pillars have an important meeting without you, or have better boasting rights.  But at some point, things change.  They have to change.

Why?  Because math. And, oh yeah, data. Because data.

I hope to bring these two things together, in equal measure, in my new blog. I hope you’ll join me for the journey…

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