Achieving Simplicity and Focus in Staffing Data

We live in a time where we have more data that can possibly be manipulated.  Companies sincerely believe that the more data they show their team, the better they are at management.   I would argue this approach does more harm than good.   While data can be valuable, sometimes it becomes too much of a good thing. Instead of adding value it does the opposite, it creates confusion resulting in the wrong conclusion.

 “Focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”  Steve Jobs, BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998

Steve Jobs’ quote from fifteen years ago is still applicable today.  Staffing managers are responsible for combing through data, identifying and understanding key trends, and presenting their findings to their team. The desired result is a team with focus. In order for the data to be usable, it must be simplified to its essence. If management is unable to do this effectively, it can create more harm than good as it fosters confusion.

Recently I was at a conference when a speaker said a management team should only pick one metric.  I couldn’t disagree more.  Instead, staffing managers must train themselves to be comfortable with data so they can properly pick the right metrics that will create the desired team focus. Data at its best provides critical insight and at its worst produces chaos.  It is the skill and judgment of a staffing manager that determines the end result.

Big data is here to change our world, but managers must master it or it will master us.