I often think of human resource metrics as the center of a Chinese penny, like the one in the picture above. There are unknowns at the middle of every problem. When you resolve an unknown, it’s as if you have punched a little hollow square in a metal disk, and turned it into currency.
While people-culture can be the main driver of business success, this is the thing you can only ponder once you get past some obstacles. Math is an obstacle upon which you can stumble time and time again. The puzzles include things such as benefits cost, engagement scores, or performance ratings.
Yet it is not the obsession about the math puzzles in HR that cause success. It is the ability to move beyond. If you figure out how to get benefits costs under control, find the source of lagging engagement, or make the switch to performance conversations, you will probably do so because you took proper care of the math, not because you ignored it or obsessed about it.
You need to change the shape of the problem, so that you are talking about people without frustration and confusion. It is common for someone to start with a basic numbers question that is bothering them. The moment that question is resolved they can move on to a totally different topic. That new topic can be one question beyond the one they just asked. However, it’s a shift.
When math is the problem in the middle of things, and you eliminate that problem, you move on to the currency of human resources. And that currency is people.