This is not a post about the use of data in human resources. I’m not going to be talking about predictive analytics, big data or modeling. Neither will I be covering metrics, measurements or statistics of any sort.
What’s on my mind is the absence of data. What happens when we come face to face with seemingly invisible activities that lead to perfectly acceptable consequences and outcomes? When we can’t ‘observe’ something – are we able to truly identify it? Can we verify something – if we don’t even notice it?
Think of an effective manager whose team or department always flies under the radar screen – there are minimal problems that rise to the level of critical issues. And isn’t that, quite often, the result of good management? This invisible successful manager is doing what she should be doing by identifying potential issues before they arise – and then preventing them from even occurring.
And no one knows.
Manager Bob however (sitting down the hall) gets all the kudos because his team is deftly averting disaster left and right. We applaud (and probably reward) Bob for his ability to manage in times of difficulty – tell us how he did it – and dazzle us with the numbers/stories/razzmatazz.
In organizations large and small there are people doing remarkable things day in and day out and getting the job done. They’re just not continuously putting out fires , managing disasters or averting crises of epic proportions.
Joan the Accounting Manager and her team do their job and get the bills paid on time. It’s what’s expected. By taking care of business she’s also preventing, negative things from happening. But how do we measure the “what ifs?” or the “what might have been?” If bad things don’t happen because of Joan’s effective leadership well, we just don’t notice it, do we? “Oh right…..Thanks Joan and carry on.” Null and void.
It’s an absence of data.