The “Metrics” Often Aren’t Honest

And therein lies a big problem.

Ted Bauer


Was bored at work years back before a full staff meeting and hopped onto #TChat for the first time ever, which is basically a Twitter chat about people, talent strategy, people analytics, HR metrics, and all that. I’m interested in that stuff, which makes me a weird, fringe-y member of the overall population. Hey — it’s all about chasing down your own personal dream, no? So I’m on TChat, throwing grenades like this puppy:

A3. You wanna make data work, the leadership on it has to be shared. It’s that simple. Can’t be “silo’ed,” am I right? #tchat

— Ted Bauer (@tedbauer2003) July 22, 2015

… and as a result, this whole area is something I’ve been thinking about for much of the last 24 hours … all the way up to therapy this morning.

Let me back up one step. I write about this kind of stuff all the time — basically like, everyone’s chasing the idea of Big Data and analytics, but they’re chasing it wrong. They forget that it means we have to teach it better, we have to hire people with new skill sets, we have to understand the difference between “synthesis” and “analysis,” and we have to get executives to a place where data is accepted and it’s not just about their “gut feel.” That’s a lot of steps. Work doesn’t always flow in such a narrative fashion — most people are all about those daily deliverables, baby!

So here’s what I’m talking about in therapy, OK … (well, part of it) … you ever sit in business meetings and someone is totally afraid to admit that an idea or initiative failed — no one likes to discuss failure at work — so instead they couch it, then roll out another metric that seems impressive? Here’s an example:

Person: Well, Q3 was a bit below expectations, but … (pause) we did register 4.5 million media impressions off our mention in a Fortune article!

That sentence above means absolutely nothing. It basically means “We didn’t do the main thing we were supposed to, but here’s a thing that sounds good that we did do!” Here’s the way you paint by numbers around it:

  • Fail



Ted Bauer

Mostly write about work, leadership, friendship, masculinity, male infertility, and some other stuff along the way. It's a pleasure to be here.