I was listening to sports radio on the drive in to work this morning and heard an interview with a lineman from Boston College projected to go high in the coming NFL draft. As a football fan, I was interested to hear about his experiences at the NFL Scouting Combine, the pre-draft interview process, and some other aspects of the NFL player hiring process through the eyes of a player.
One topic I thought was interesting was how the NFL measures the 40-yard dash time for all players at the Scouting Combine, including 300 lb linemen. As any football fan will know, these players rarely, if ever, actually run 40 yards in a game situation (Patriots lineman Dan Connolly being the exception). This made me wonder about the value of measuring certain talent metrics many talent management vendors consider “strategic”. If the metric does not have a direct business reason for existing beyond the “what” it should be considered a data point that has tactical –but not strategic- value.
For example, headcount and attrition are examples of talent metadata –they measure data about data. While knowing how many employees work at a company and what rate they are leaving is important to measure, it would be pretty difficult to set organizational strategy based solely on these metrics. Therefore attrition and headcount have limited strategic value to the executive suite. Just like measuring an NFL lineman’s 40-yard dash time without context of why linemen are slower than running backs, headcount and attrition rate are descriptive metrics of the “what” – rate of employees leaving – but they do not explain “why” they are leaving and what can be done to prevent this in the future.
Executives seeking to be strategic about lowering their employee attrition rate need to go a step further in their talent measurement effort. Knowing the number of employees leaving is tactical. Imagine understanding at a glance, why employees are leaving, in the aggregate? That is how talent analytics can be used strategically.