Let data work with its ilk – the computers.
Let humans work with theirs – other humans.
Want to be in human resources in 20 years – major in human beings today.
There is a conversation making its way (and Paul is, as usual, at its leading edge) through the HR interwebs and other forums of professional conversation. Here's the question that seems to be at its core: Have we in the people field become too enamored with technology, with analytics, with transactional efficiency, etc. and lost sight of the fact that we are in the business of human beings?
Not sure that this question is top of mind for those of us in the compensation space, though. We pride ourselves on our statistical acumen, our spreadsheet modeling and manipulation capabilities, our ability to sift through and make sense out of the immense quantities of data required to manage and updated pay structures. And that's not wrong. The employment relationship may not be an entirely financial transaction, but that is a big piece of it for most people. Getting the math in that financial transaction right is necessary and important.
But not sufficient.
Designing and implementing compensation programs that work -- that do the right things with the money used, for the organization and for the people -- will always require that the practitioner understand the humans at least as well as the data. The art as well as the science. The challenge is that many of us -- and I confess I was no exception -- are attracted to the field because of the "certainty" and the black-and-white aspect of working with data, compared to the messiness of dealing with humans. (I lasted less than six months in my only-ever generalist role. I couldn't WAIT to get back to my spreadsheets.)
Really, though, we are only kidding ourselves.
If we want to grow beyond the role of an analyst, earn the right to be considered (and not just titled) an advisor or consultant or business partner in our field, we will recognize that the data is just a tool and that we only bring real value to the table when learn to go above and beyond the data. When we use it as a tool to make work work better for our organizations and the people who contribute to them.
Spreadsheet acumen and data analysis are important, but these will be neither our distinguishing competency nor where our job security lies as the machine age marches forward. Learning to interpret the data, tease out the interesting stories it tells, and then tell those stories in a way that helps your organization and its leaders make better people decisions -- that's where your sweet spot is.
That's what I'm thinking. You?
Still trying to get your head around the people part of compensation? First thing you have to know is that Everything You Do (in Compensation) is Communication. Ann Bares collaborated with Margaret O'Hanlon and Dan Walter on the ebook; find it at www.everythingiscommunication.com. Ann is the Founder and Editor of the Compensation Café, Author of Compensation Force, and Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group LLC. Ann also serves as past President of the Twin Cities Compensation Network (the most awesome local reward network on the planet) and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Compensation & Benefits Review. She earned her M.B.A. at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, is a foodie and bookhound in her spare time. Follow her on Twitter at @annbares.
Image "Collage Of Business Exp" courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net