Six things you need to know about measuring people management

Sumaya Ismail People development

July newsletter21


When it comes to understanding how embedded your people management practices are, issues of measurement often crop up. But all too often people get distracted by the tools they can use and the data they can gather, rather than focusing on what’s important. The people themselves. So here’s six things you can do to make your measuring effective.


  1. Start at the beginning. What do you want to know and why? Firstly, be really clear about why you’re investing time in measuring your people management and decide what you want to know before you start working out how to measure. It’s also imperative you get senior management engagement so they understand not just the value of measuring people management, but the value of people themselves. Establish what business success looks like for you and how your people contribute to that picture, then use that as your baseline. You could think about your business’s purpose, vision and values and work out how much your people reflect, embody and deliver that purpose.
  1. Trust your instincts The common complaint about people management is that it isn’t measurable. That a lot of it comes down to perception, to trust, to the sense of feeling valued. It’s true that these softer insights are an important gauge of how your people management is working, but it’s not true that they can’t be measured. We all measure them, all the time. You can often walk into an office, talk to a colleague or just listen and watch how employees interact to see if there is a positive workplace culture, if people feel trusted or if they feel supported. They might not be the kind of measures that you can plot on a graph, or map out and project forward, but instincts and observations shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to understanding whether your employees are engaged and your people management practice is effective.
  1. Comparison is good, but focus on what you’re doing, not the competition. Benchmarking is about so much more than just where you come on the list. Looking at what others are doing and measuring yourselves against that can be helpful, but only if it leads to understanding how your people management practices work and what you could be doing better. It’s important when benchmarking that you pick out and work on the areas that you feel are business critical (see point 1). It’s also important that you look inside the business as well as outside. Which departments or teams are leading and managing people effectively? Are there tools or resources being used in some teams that are getting results? How can you highlight best practice across your business and introduce a cohesive approach? Internal benchmarking relies to some degree on data gathering and analysis, which also comes with its own considerations.
  1. When you measure, choose the right tools for the job. Once you’re clear about what you want to know and why, define measures and metrics that are specific to what you want to achieve. Are surveys, performance reviews or 360-degree reviews best suited to the type of information you want to gather and the type of organisation you are? Consider how people management data you do gather sits alongside your other business metrics and give it equal footing.
  1. Look deeper, analyse and respond. If you are data gathering, always analyse the reasons for response rates. Look at the people who aren’t responding as well as the results from those who are. It will all tell you something. If you’re going to do surveys, you must be prepared to act on them. You’re asking people’s opinions and you need to show that you value them with a timely response, rather than the results disappearing into a void.
  1. Join up the dots. Ongoing people management is about resonant leadership. Resonant leadership means inferring how people are feeling, feeding that into other measurement processes and making judgements. It relies on balancing the ‘harder’ tangible statistics with the ‘softer’ insights around perceptions, trust and value. The skills for resonant leadership are something that can be incubated through leadership and management development.

Training should be followed up with development around coaching and mentoring, which is informed by the employee survey, assessment and performance reviews. It’s about tying it all together in an ongoing process of continuous improvement. That’s when measuring people management really gets results.


Source: Investors in People UK: | By Bob Morrisson