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A big mistake I see so many HR professionals make, is you don’t stop to evaluate the effectiveness of the activities, campaigns, programs, resources, etc. that you deliver. It makes sense – you’re busy year-round with one activity or fire after another. So much so, that the down-time or quiet time of year you used to have, has completely vanished.

But without fully knowing how effective you are, you are continuing to work really hard on activities that may not add any value. Or worse, you’re harming the overall culture and reputation of HR at your company.

Without fully knowing how effective you are, you are continuing to work really hard on activities that may not add any value. Or worse, you’re harming the overall #culture and reputation of #HR at your company. Click To Tweet

In order to deliver great HR, strategic HR, HR that matters (or as some are now touting – “more human HR”), you have to pause and investigate the work you’re currently delivering and understand how effective your HR programs really are.

How to Start

Currently, if you are considering your program’s effectiveness, you’re likely thinking back on how you felt about it post-mortem (even better if you have post-mortem notes) or you’re reflecting on anecdotal notes or feedback you have heard along the way.

Maybe you’ve asked your HR colleagues how it’s been going, you have agreed that there is room for improvement, but overall, your opinion of how effective you’re being is just that – an opinion.

Assessing your program’s effectiveness is not an easy thing to shift into. It feels personal the first time you do it, and receiving true and honest feedback of your work, even tangentially, can be a hard pill to swallow.

Step one is to take a deep breath, and let’s get started.  

Current State of Affairs

Let’s begin by assessing the current state of affairs – not by relying on opinions, but by reaching out to your customers/clients (the people you serve in HR), and get real. What are your employees and leaders saying about HR? Being part of the HR group, you are too close (and familiar!) to the situation to have an accurate assessment of how things are going.

Here’s how to better assess the state of your HR deliverables.

Reach out to at least five of your employees outside of HR at varying levels – at least one leader you support – and invite each of them to have a quick conversation with you. Be sure to note that they aren’t in trouble, but that you’re seeking feedback and that the meeting will just take a few minutes.

During the meeting, ask them to tell you their first reaction to the following questions:

  • What does HR at our company do? What are we responsible for?
  • Do you know what (insert HR program/activity – performance management, employee engagement, etc.) is and why it’s important?
  • When and why do you reach out to HR?
  • Does HR make a difference to your daily work life?
  • Do you have any additional feedback you’d like to share about how HR is doing or how we can better support you?

Important Note: When you are asking these questions, be sure to set the expectation that this is feedback that will be captured confidentially and will be used to help find areas of success and improvement for HR, and honest feedback is critical. Your role during these sessions is to capture notes and simply respond with, “Thanks!” This isn’t the time to provide additional solutions, point out things the employee may have missed and so on. Your only goal is to capture honest feedback.

Look Closer to Home

Gathering external feedback, from your clients or leaders, is an excellent way to understand what they are thinking. But you also must look at what they are doing.

This tends to be the fun part, as you get to combine your intuition and experience, with some hard data and golden nuggets.

If you have applicable questions on your employee engagement survey or any other related surveys, capture it. Usually these questions are a reflection on how HR is viewed, benefit packages, hiring experiences, specific culture questions, and so on.

In addition, there are a plethora of HR resources that you already have, that will be helpful in capturing a well-rounded view of how effective your HR programs are.  Look at things like:

  • Your inbox – which questions do you get on a consistent basis (overall or by HR activity)
  • Response rates for the actions/activities you’re asking your employees to take action on
  • If you track email statistics (you should be!), look at open and click-through rates
  • Any type of traffic and activity actions on your intranet
  • Call center questions and calls

These types of resources provide not only hard metrics – how many times you get a certain type of question, how successful an action is, and so on, but they also provide another important touch-point – and can show a gap between your employees’ thoughts and actions.

Gathering external #feedback, from your clients or leaders, is an excellent way to understand what they are thinking. But you also must look at what they are doing. #HR #HRMetrics Click To Tweet

Compiling the Feedback

After you’ve interviewed everyone and found details from your golden nuggets, compile your notes and highlight the key topics/ideas. Remember: This isn’t personal, you are compiling useful information that will help your HR department thrive going forward.

As you review your notes more in-depth, evaluate the responses through these questions:

  • Are there consistent themes across all the responses, or is it all over the map?
  • Does the feedback line-up with what you thought it would be, or is it different than how you would respond?
  • From an unbiased perspective, is the time and effort you put into HR, reflected in how your employees are talking about the work? Where is this aligned or off-track?

If you’re like most HR leaders who go through this process, you’ll probably be a bit… bummed out when reviewing the feedback. You’ll review some good and some bad feedback – but most of the notes will lead to highlight the various gaps or blind spots you may have not noticed or acknowledged before.

And it can feel a bit demotivating to where things stand. How can all of your hard work go so unnoticed or underappreciated? Don’t fret – that changes now.

Next Steps

Now you have true data and metrics, along with captured feedback from the people you serve, to create an objective view on how effective your HR programs really are. Putting together thoughts and feelings, combined with your HR insights and data, you finally have a full-scope view – instead of guessing (or ignoring the evaluation phase altogether).

From here, you’ll need to create an action plan to take this information and apply it in the right way, to create more impactful HR programs and activities going forward.

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