Spend Time Fixing Problems, Not Finding Them

17 Oct

The other day I was speaking with a 93-year old neighbor of mine when I noticed that he was wearing one of those “medic alert” buzzers; I commented to him about that and got the following reply:

“It’s fantastic, Don – now I can go down to the lower part of my yard and use my chainsaw and you don’t have to worry about me . . . “

Tempted as I was to mention that at the ripe old age of 93 he probably shouldn’t be using a chainsaw at all, I had to admit that he was right. After all, prior to his informing us about his medic alert device, my wife and I would try to “check-in” with him every couple of days – just to make sure he wasn’t lying in a heap somewhere with a redwood tree across his chest.

And our neighbor summed it up best when he said “ . . . the great thing about this is that wherever I am and no matter what time it is, it’ll notify the hospital to send help . . . “

“Notify” . . . “send help” . . . Hmmmmmm . . . now this was a topic I was familiar with . . .

In the HR world, staff and managers typically rely upon reports to monitor employee performance. Much in the same way that I went next-door every couple of days check on our neighbor’s health, an HR staffer turns to analytical reports to keep an eye on employee absenteeism, drug test results, expiring certifications, negative vacation time, and the like.

But, like my health-checks next-door, how often must those reports be run in order to ensure the well-being of your HR organization?

Have you ever received an HR report only to look at it, discover that “something bad” has happened, and then say to yourself “if only I had known about this sooner . . . “?

Using reports to monitor the health of your HR organization is effective only if those reports reach the appropriate people soon enough after a problem (or potential problem) has arisen. And who’s to say how soon is “soon enough”?

Most HR organizations rely on “scheduled” (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly) reports for identifying and responding to critical HR-related business conditions. Unfortunately, those time-intervals are often
not good enough to enable the best possible response. There are simply too many HR situations where your ability to “correct” a problem relies upon the speediness of your response. And if you’ve got a scheduled HR report that runs every Monday at 9 AM and a problem occurs on a Tuesday at 10 AM, you’re looking at a long time before you even begin to learn about the situation, let alone do something about it.

What you need to implement are . . . “triggered” reports.

A “triggered” report is one that is generated when specific HR business conditions warrant it. Thus you could have a report that tells you about changes to an employee’s benefits – but only if there are any changes that need to be made effective today. Likewise you could have an “excessive overtime” report that generates only if an employee has accumulated more than 20 hours of OT in a given month.

The best thing about “triggered” reports is that an HR staffer no longer has to wonder IF a report contains information that they need to be concerned about. A “triggered” report contains actionable information; most importantly, the information in that report is timely and relevant. Because in HR, your greatest resource is time; spend it fixing problems – not finding them.

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