There are three distinguishing features separating high-performing HR teams and professionals from the rest, specifically in relation to outcome orientation and impact measurement. Reflecting on the features gives HR leaders of all organizations food for thought as you develop your teams to be future-ready.
1. High-Performing Teams and Professionals Know How to Prioritize
Our observation: A red flag for outcome orientation is when professionals are visibly buried in a series of activities, running from one workstream to another without completing any at quality. They seem to use a scatter approach to get things done, i.e., everything gets the same level of attention and effort. As a result, some projects get far less attention than they deserve, while others receive too much.
In contrast, outcome-focused professionals are discerning with their focus, energy, and resources. They understand which of their ten projects are most significant for the organization and place an emphasis on these. Their teams are less stressed, and their chances of providing impactful contributions are significantly higher.
Our recommendation: Leaders should encourage their teams to apply Wilfredo Pareto’s 80-20 principle to plan their time and resources. This means that about 20% of what they are working on will lead to a vast majority of the results. The numbers are loosely used here, but the main point is profoundly important for success. We recommend leaders set up time early in the project process to help teams understand an investment’s payoff, value at stake, and business relevance. They should then distribute precious time and resources based on the size of the prize. Many paths can help HR teams do this. In the ROI Methodology, we kick off the project process with the questions: Why are we doing this? What difference will it make? And more.
2. High-Performing Teams and Professionals Know What Business Problems They Are Solving
Our observation: Less outcome-focused teams struggle to see how their work relates to the broader organization. We expect professionals who work with us, at a minimum, to identify the HR metrics that they are improving (retention, readiness, hiring suitability, engagement). Unfortunately, some cannot, and have never considered this, let alone think of the follow-on effects of more favorable attrition, or engagement to the organization. This concerning capability gap should be addressed. HR leaders are uniquely placed to help their teams address it to be future-ready.
In contrast, we observe high-performing leaders and professionals in our projects and workshops successfully connect their projects with specific business needs and metrics. They succinctly identify the business problems they are solving, for example, “we will lose market share unless we can start new branches”, “our contracts team is too slow, and costs to close a transaction have gone through the roof”, or “our receivables are 10% higher than a year ago and moving in the wrong direction”.
The difference in approach may relate to the individual’s experience or role, for example, someone new to the field or organization, or far from business discussions will need more coaching. Some argue that it is ok to not know because they do not have the data to make business connections. When such data is available in the near future, they will have to quickly figure out the relevant HR and business metrics, linkages and factors that matter. Why not start now, when the pressure to show value is not mandated? In the new world of data, evidence, and transparency, connecting HR to business metrics is a success factor, and lacking the connection puts program and professionals at risk. Especially as a new breed of data and business-savvy professionals enter the workforce.
Our recommendation: Make sure to systematically connect your strategic and important project with business-relevant outcomes and strategies. This is the central focus of our ROI Methodology workshops, and there are also other ways to incorporate the habit into your work.
3. High-Performing Teams and Professionals Are up to Speed With the Expectations of Trackable, Provable Impact.
Our observation: Those who lag often say, “No one is asking, why should we do this?”. Unfortunately, it is a misinformed perspective. In all fields from entrepreneurship to non-profits, we have experienced that the best of the breed always ask, “what impact are we driving”, and “how can we measure it?”
In contrast, high-performing leaders are aware of the role of a “strategic HR”. They understand that trackable progress and impact is necessary and the need of the hour. They follow world events and see these trends show up in all industries and discussions.
Our recommendation: All leaders should educate their teams on the hugely topical relevance of evidence-based implementation and help them prepare for the soon-to-arrive moment when this will be routine and necessary.
What Is Next?
This July, your teams will have an opportunity to start on an exciting new path of measurable results and outcomes in the IHRP-endorsed ROI Skill Building Program. The program is a great first step for HR professionals to incorporate business metrics and business success into their projects. Please ask your teams to sign up and bring their projects to the workshop, where we will show them the ROI Methodology, and coach them to improve their projects’ impact.