Henry Ford once said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”  I often think the same can be said for the utilization of metrics in UR.

A quick search for “metrics” on one of my favorite recruiting resources, ERE.net, provides close to 6,000 responses.  Titles such as “HR Ranks at the Bottom – Reasons to Adopt Metrics” and High-impact Strategic Recruiting Metrics for WOWing Executives” provide ample evidence that metrics should be the foundation upon which any decent recruiting program is based.

When metrics are utilized, they often tend to be confined to the experienced side of recruiting.  Given the significantly higher number of annual hires along with the transactional nature of experienced recruiting, this is to be expected.  On the other hand, metrics in UR are much less frequently utilized, and this needs to be changed.

In Support of Recruiting Metrics

Here are a few reasons why incorporating metrics into your UR program makes good business sense;

– The language of business – In any well-run business function (marketing, operations, supply chain, IT, etc.), the focus will ultimately come down to spreadsheets which measure and report progress. Therefore, using metrics sets you on equal footing with your departmental peers.
– Leadership prefers numbers – The higher you go up the leadership chain, the less time you’ll have to make your case. Especially at the “C” level, metrics are critical to capturing and sustaining the attention of your leaders.
– Hard to argue with facts – A well-executed strategy with solid numbers behind it makes it much easier to argue for and attain ongoing support when it’s needed.

Metrics is defined as “a method of measuring something, or the results obtained from this.” I’m not exactly sure where I developed my appreciation for metrics, but I think it has something to do with my being handy with a hammer and nail. Anyone who builds will tell you the importance of measuring  – whether it’s the length of a board, centering a picture on a wall, or determining the height of a fixture, measuring is critical to avoiding an Alice in Wonderland type outcome. In fact, my wise old dad used to always say, “measure twice and cut once” to avoid unnecessary waste.

However, before any of the building can start, you have to have a plan that will guide the process, which is then connected to a shopping list, that has to be tied to a budget, which is ultimately tied to gaining my wife’s final design approval. See the pattern? In business, we refer to this as developing a strategic plan, resource/staff assessment, budgeting (everyone’s favorite pastime), and attaining leadership’s buy-in.

More simply, a focus on metrics without thoughtful planning can lead to purposeless activity – kind of like the proverbial hamster in the hamster wheel – lots of furious activity but not really going anywhere. So the point is simple – start with a strategic plan and everything else will fall into place.

It’s All About Planning

If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know you’ve arrived? Here are a few reasons to invest time in the planning process:

– Framework for decisions or for securing support/approval – if you have to put pen to paper, it forces you to think through the details.
– Assists in benchmarking & performance monitoring – the perfect place to introduce metrics.
– Stimulates change and becomes a building block for the next plan – especially useful for reflecting on outcomes and incorporating findings.
– Provides a basis for more detailed planning – yes, practice does make perfect.
– Keeps focus when distractions arise – the reason it’s called a strategic plan is to keep the focus on an agreed upon strategy for obtaining desired results.

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of developing a strategic plan. Yes, it can be a lot of work the first time around but once you start, I promise it will fall into place. Don’t focus on perfection as you’ll learn in the process and refine in the next iteration. The point is to have a plan of some type that directs activity that will ultimately be measured by – – metrics. Resource wise, check out ERE.net for strategic planning insights.  However, if you are just starting out, some of the topics may be a little overwhelming so I have a basic template I created years ago that I’m happy to share as well.

Once you’ve defined your strategy, the hardest part may be over but this is where metrics play a crucial role to ensure the strategy is executed as planned. Assuming you’ve done your planning correctly, incorporating metrics into your plan ideally should:

– Clearly relate to goals and objectives
– Be self-generating and provide a leading or predictive indication of performance
– Integrate into a normal part of the business process
– Be unambiguous, actionable, and in your control
– Provide baseline from year to year