Tag Archives: KPMG

CEOs and Talent: Only a Risk

data point tuesday_500Wait. What?

I’m looking at a survey analysis/report from KPMG, Setting the course for growth: CEO perspectives. Unlike every other CEO survey I’ve looked at, people, talent and culture are barely addressed in the survey results at all, but rather in sidebars by the good consultants at KPMG. The only places talent shows up are in the first and last areas of key findings: “confident on economic outlook, hiring,” and “risk management not regularly discussed.”

According to the report, the areas that 400 surveyed U.S. CEOs are most concerned about are:

  • Confident on economic outlook, hiring (55%)
  • Optimistic about business prospects (62%)
  • Strong focus on growth (72%)
  • Product relevance as a top concern (72%)
  • Surge in Operating Model Transformations (76%)
  • Adapting to government regulation a high priority (34%)
  • Risk management not regularly discussed (27%)

Contrasted with the pwc CEO survey I wrote about earlier, talent issues don’t seem to be top of mind for the CEOs in KPMG’s survey pool. I think this is pretty interesting.

Of course, surveys are all about the questions asked and the answer choices provided. If talent, people and culture aren’t part of the answer or topic choices, then they won’t show up in the results. If KPMG didn’t put them in and pwc did. I think that’s pretty interesting, too.

Back to the KPMG report, headcount growth projections are significant from the surveyed CEOs, but a concern about any skills or talent shortage that would provide headwind to this growth isn’t mentioned. Even though 216 of 400 CEOs say that they expect to grow their headcount 6% or more during the next three years. Interesting.

Aug 18 2015 KPMG

Here’s where people do show up in the survey: as one of 5 “top concerns about my company:”

  • Financial performance
  • Risk management concerns
  • Workforce issues
  • Operational issues
  • Ability to innovate

These “workforce issues” show up in the risk management section, but there is no description of what those issues are and how they show up as risks. Or how to mitigate them. Interesting.

Based on the survey analysis, the report’s conclusion gives these final recommendations to CEOs:

  • Transform or wither
  • Stay relevant
  • Become an information-driven organization
  • View everything through the lens of efficient growth

Not what I expected based on almost every other CEO survey report I’ve seen this year. But if I step back a minute and forget that this report is focused on the CEO, wouldn’t these four recommendations work just as well for the CHRO and the HR Department as a whole? Yes. Yes they would.

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Filed under CEOs, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, KPMG

Big HR Data By Any Other Name

data point tuesday_500I’m mindful of Laurie Ruettimann’s blog post from a couple of weeks ago wherein she put it straight out: HR Research Isn’t Research, It’s Marketing. She ends her post with this: Remember — today’s HR research is marketing, wrapped up in survey data, presented for consumption as sales collateral. And, of course, she’s right. Lots and lots of surveys are fielded in the HR space by consulting firms, service and products providers, professional associations, academics, writers – heck, by anyone who wants to sell something to HR professionals. And many of those surveys are biased, have no real hypotheses, and the resulting white papers are designed to create the case for you want to buy whatever the sponsor is selling.

But this isn’t news. We all know this. HR professionals all over the world know this. And probably none of these white papers with their biased surveys ever propelled a sale. I think we can agree on this.

But I still find value in these so-called research papers because they raise questions, spur investigation, create doubt and motivate thinking. Not a bad thing for HR professionals. Asking questions, investigating additional data, analysis and research, creating doubt about the effectiveness of current practice and motivating thought to consider other ways of creating value for the business – these are all very good things.

I thought about all of this as I read KPMG’s recent white paper, Evidence-based HR: The bridge between your people and delivering business strategy. And as I read it, I thought about whether or not it was useful in creating a case for HR professionals to ask more questions, get a handle on organization data – not just HR data, and think about the future effectiveness of HR in the organization to drive greater business value. And I believe it does. So I recommend that you read it with the understanding that KPMG would like to sell you some consulting services. (With a hat tip to Laurie.)

 The primary points are in no way earth shattering, but the underlying data give some new color to the discussion of HR, Big Data and creating business value:

  • Evidence-based HR is still at the embryonic, pioneering stage

  • The progress of evidence-based HR is hampered by a negative perception of the HR function

  • Evidence threatens the established order, inevitably triggering resistance as a consequence

  • Whatever the obstacles, and whatever the resistance, the growth of evidence-based HR will gain momentum; companies and HR practitioners must respond urgently to avoid losing ground

That third point was particularly interesting to me: “Evidence threatens the established order, inevitably triggering resistance as a consequence.” Evidence threatens the established order in HR for HR professionals who believe the people part of the business is more art than science. Not new. It also threatens the established order in the C-Suite and in other functions where executives have free reign to act on their own experience and perceptions of what works in leading people. And resistance to HR analytics comes from locations in the organization other than HR. New. And also interesting.

“The new era may also endanger the myth of the omnipotent executive, and the massive rewards that flow from it. Decisions based on gut instinct are now becoming exposed to immediate criticism. ‘Evidence suddenly makes people accountable, quite an uncomfortable feeling for some people…’ “

I’m interested that some of those uncomfortable people are other than HR people.

The data in the report are presented appealingly. Here’s one graph:

KPMG April 21 2015 An interesting finding is that the biggest obstacle to the use of evidence in people management is corporate culture. Not HR’s reputation, but corporate culture. Also new and maybe worth considering.

KPMG’s concludes the report with this, “…the days of basing people decisions on the whims or personal motives of one person at the helm are about to end. Organizations that acknowledge that inevitability already have a substantial head start.” That’s more a message to CEOs than it is to CHROs. More a message to the C-Suite than to HR practitioners. I just hope CHROs and HR practitioners are ready when the message is received!

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Filed under Big Data, C-suite, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, HR Analytics, HR Data, KPMG