Measurement: Why, What, and How


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This paper discusses why organizations should be measuring the effectiveness and impact of their talent management initiatives, what they need to be focused on, and how to execute a successful measurement study and leverage results for continued success.

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Measurement: Why, What, and How

  1. 1. MEASUREMENT:WHY, WHAT,AND HOWWHY measure? You probably alreadyrealize the critical importance of measuringthe effectiveness of talent managementinitiatives like leadership development,selection, performance management, andsuccession management. But you may alsobe asking: With so many other competingpriorities, how can I find time for meas-urement? Understanding the critical valueof measurement in tracking implementa-tions and demonstrating impact will helpyou to see that it’s not a matter of how, butwhen. Talent management without meas-urement is like baking a cake without usingmeasuring cups or spoons. You might getlucky with a haphazard approach, but thechances you’ll end up hungry and witha mess on your hands are much, muchhigher. Measurement focuses effortstoward goals, monitors progress, andobjectively assesses whether you achievedthose goals. Shouldn’t you be prioritizingyour efforts to measure in order to ensurethat talent management in your organiza-tion doesn’t end up a mess?FIVE REASONS TO MEASURE TALENTMANAGEMENT INITIATIVES NOW1. Demonstrating Value. Organizationsare always looking for ways to cut costsand HR programs are often the first togo. This is partly because competingdepartments already have metrics thatdemonstrate their worth. HR depart-ments must demonstrate the businessvalue of their programs to highermanagement if they want to keeptheir budgets or minimize their cuts.2. Tracking Progress. Talent manage-ment initiatives can easily get off track,not because the program itself is lacking,but because of poor installation or otherorganizational factors. Measurement canmaintain the focus on the objectives thatled to the talent initiative in the firstplace and definitively track progresstowards achieving those objectives.3. Diagnosing Problems. All too often,organizational issues and problemssuch as poor execution sidetrack talentmanagement initiatives like leadershipdevelopment. Measurement can helpidentify and leverage factors that aresupporting the program and pinpointfactors that may be hindering its impact.4. Guiding Decisions. Measurement tellsyou if strategies are working or if theyneed to change. They can inform whenWHITEPAPER—MEASUREMENT:WHY,WHAT,ANDHOW1WHITE PAPER© Development Dimensions International, Inc., MMX. All rights reserved.JAZMINE BOATMAN, PH.D.,MANAGER,DDI CENTER FOR APPLIEDBEHAVIORAL RESEARCHMICHAEL KEMP,RESEARCH CONSULTANT,DDI CENTER FOR APPLIEDBEHAVIORAL RESEARCHYou can’t manage whatyou don’t measure.
  2. 2. and which obstacles to a talent manage-ment initiative need to be removed, andunder which situations an initiative hasbeen successful.5. Motivating Change. Most peoplerecognize that what gets measuredgets done. That’s because measurementbuilds in accountability. If an objective isdefined and regularly measured, peopleare motivated to make the initiative ahigher priority and see to it that progressis being made. In essence, measurementis fundamental to the sustainability oftalent management initiatives.WHAT TO MEASUREDetermining what to measure when itcomes to talent management can be over-whelming and confusing. DDI takes a strate-gic and systematic approach to measuringtalent management initiatives. We organizemeasurement around the four major areasdescribed below (Figure 1). Even thoughthe specifics of a measurement plan willdiffer from one situation to another, DDIpositions the metrics and analytics arounda structure that keeps the process on trackand avoids common measurement pitfalls.In each area we seek answers to key ques-tions. The first two areas relate to a particu-lar talent management initiative: selection,development, succession, or performancemanagement.> FOCUS refers to whether the initiativeaddresses the most critical businessneeds. For example, is the competencymodel aligned with business objectives?Have development gaps been identified?> PROCESS refers to the implementationof the initiative. Has it been imple-mented properly? Have steps beentaken to assure that it will endure inthe organization?The next two areas refer to the results youhope the initiative will achieve.> OUTCOMES refer to your talent. Did theinitiative enhance the available talent?Has it positively affected the behavior,attitudes, and performance of participantsand others?> IMPACT refers to your business. Hasthe business benefitted from the changesthe initiative produced? Were customersor other external stakeholders affectedpositively?WHITEPAPER—MEASUREMENT:WHY,WHAT,ANDHOW2© Development Dimensions International, Inc., MMX. All rights reserved.“One of the great mis-takes is to judge policiesand programs by theirintentions rather thantheir results.”— Milton FriedmanFigure 1: DDI’s Approach to Measuring Talent Management Initiatives
  3. 3. LOGICAL PATH APPROACHA distinctive element of the approach isour Logical Path method, which guidesclients through a thoughtful examination ofhow their various initiatives can positivelyenhance their organization’s talent and leadto the achievement of business objectives.DDI’s unique logical path approach goesbeyond collecting information in distinctareas, but links data together to define howan initiative can be expected to lead to thedesired objectives (Figure 2).It may be helpful to think of measurementfrom left to right. For example, it may bedifficult to explain how client satisfactionincreased as a result of a training programwithout first explaining how the trainingimpacted the behavior or performance ofemployees. Once a logical path is created,metrics that indicate progress along thatpath are more easily defined. The logicalpath helps assure that measures are address-ing meaningful targets and are sufficientlycomprehensive.WHITEPAPER—MEASUREMENT:WHY,WHAT,ANDHOW3© Development Dimensions International, Inc., MMX. All rights reserved.HOW TO MEASURERealizing why it is critical to focus onmeasurement and knowing what to meas-ure are vital to proving the value of talentmanagement. All you need now is to getstarted. Figure 3 illustrates the measure-ment cycle, which has four major phases.DDI plays different roles to help clients witheach of these phases in the process.1. Create a plan. We often hear thephrase“start with the end in mind.”A measurement plan should start (andend) with the reasons the program wasinstituted in the first place. An effectiveplan begins by clarifying objectives,from which you can create one or morelogical paths and identify appropriatemetrics for each step on the path. Nextyou identify sources of data, determinetimelines for each phase of data collec-tion, and assign accountabilities for carry-ing out the plan. DDI can help clients tocreate the best plan for their situation.Projects are scalable from tactical (focusand process areas only) to strategic (allFOCUS PROCESS OUTCOMES IMPACTImprovedcustomerserviceSelectionassessmentcenter forcustomerserviceagentsImprovedcustomerserviceBetteremployeeperformanceLoweremployeeturnoverImprovedcustomerserviceImprovedcustomerserviceFigure 2: Example Logical PathFigure 3: Measurement Cycle
  4. 4. four measurement areas). The level ofour involvement is also scalable, fromconsultation and guidance to managingall data collection, analysis, and reporting.2. Gather data. Data gathering should bestrategic and planful to ensure the rightdata is being collected at the right time.Many organizations do not plan aheadfor measurement and miss opportunitiesto gather important baseline measures(i.e., quality of hires before a selection ini-tiative is implemented). Others may rushto judgment about a program’s effective-ness too soon; for example, trying tomeasure a manager’s effectiveness beforehe or she has had a chance to applyknowledge and skills learned in trainingon the job. In addition, DDI can supple-ment client metrics with special tools.For example, DDI’s Checkpoint surveyscan measure stakeholder reactions andoutcomes for various solutions.3. Analyze and report data. Conductingstatistical analyses of the data and infer-ring implications from results of thoseanalyses usually requires professionalexpertise. DDI has expertise in manipu-lating and interpreting research data.4. Move forward. A presentation of theresearch results interpreted with respectto the original objectives can build buy-in, rally support, and ensure sustainabilityfor the initiative. Results also help toinform decisions about next steps suchas improving the program, expandingupon it, or moving on to something new.MEASUREMENT’S RIGHTFUL PLACEWhile measurement is clearly important, italso can prove intimidating. But we believethat when the why, what, and how of meas-urement are understood, measurement cantake its rightful place as an integral part ofany talent management initiative.If you need guidance, DDI can help.We have expertise in program evaluation,validation, surveying, quantitative and quali-tative data collection, data management, andstatistical analyses. To learn more about ourmeasurement capabilities and solutions,please contact your DDI representative.WHITEPAPER—MEASUREMENT:WHY,WHAT,ANDHOW4MKTCPWP19-10100MA © Development Dimensions International, Inc., MMX. All rights reserved.CONTACT INFORMATIONWORLD HEADQUARTERS412.257.0600E-MAIL INFO@DDIWORLD.COMWWW.DDIWORLD.COM/LOCATIONS