The Cinderella problem: The cost to business of the employee-role mismatch

Right shoe, wrong foot? That’s the Cinderella story and, in the Brothers Grimm version, the evil stepsister cuts off her toe to fit the foot into the shoe. Cinderella is not just one story dating back in time – there are multiple versions across different cultures.

Organisations today have a version, too. We think we have the right foot; we just don’t know what the shoe looks like. According to Angus Young, director at Prime Reason, if the business maps individual performance, skills and output within the organisation, it will find that a hefty percentage of its employees (up to 60%) do not fit the requirements mandated for their roles.

“Finding the right people to fit and grow within the business isn’t about subjective cookie-cutter personality traits, past experience or years of service, and nor is it about how well people communicate, interview or “fit” into the organisation. We know that all people have unlimited potential — in other words, everyone has the right foot; it’s our responsibility to make sure we fit them to the right shoe. It’s about quantifying the roles and key metrics that are proven to add value to the organisation.

“This is why analytics and the ability to leverage internal data and metrics have become so important today,” Young explains. “If you can qualify the skills, competencies and metrics within your organisation, then you can apply these learnings and analytics to your people strategies, including development, internal mobility and recruitment. The process of building organisational capability should be based on solid data from within the organisation or recognised external benchmarks.”

Thanks to the ubiquity and intelligence of data analytics solutions, and the sheer volume of data itself, companies can potentially analyse anything. They can analyse their recruitment strategies, their performance management processes, their scorecards and their metrics, using the insights to refine their approaches and processes. This level of analytics, and the depths to which the business can dive within the data can be daunting, but it does get results. Measurable and invaluable results.

Analytics-based growth strategies

Talking about building organisational capability, many organisations were recently pushed into some form of restructuring. In part that’s where we realised how many people were wearing the “wrong shoes”. Now that organisations are building for the future, they should be careful about making the same mistakes.

Recruitment in the current market is a complex beast. Great talent is in short supply and high demand. Organisations are either faced with a dearth of CVs, or they’re trying to find order in thousands.

“Organisations often don’t have a consistent recruitment process, and most don’t have one that’s supported or defined by data and analytics,” says Young. “That means there is no benchmark against which to measure recruitment or talent, and because the processes are not in place, this makes it challenging to find the right people. In this complex and mercurial environment, it’s essential for companies to put benchmarks in place so they can identify the perfect talent for the business.”

If the shoe fits…

Metrics, strategy, insight

“Using these benchmarks,” says Young, “you can look back at your employees over time and see what attributes made a good fit and assess dynamic changes within the company and employee capability,” says Young. “The more the business measures, the more the benchmarks are capable of assessing where these factors impact performance. It’s not the Holy Grail or silver bullet or any other cliché, but it is a solid point of focus that can support the long-term success of the organisation. It can fundamentally influence culture, retention, ethics, performance and customer engagement.”

And, he says, for organisations battling to know where to start, it could be worth engaging the expertise of a specialist company that can help establish internal and external metrics and help determine the right mix of benchmarks to look at. This is a careful juggle of metrics, strategy and insight that ensures the final benchmarks against which future employees are measured are tightly aligned with existing culture and strategy.

“Prior planning prevents poor performance,” says Young. “Those are the five Ps that underscore and absolutely define the value of analytics and metrics in the business. These benchmarks, evolved from data and accurate intelligence, will manage expectations and performance accurately. And they can evolve with the business as strategic objectives change.

Acceptance and adoption

According to Young, perhaps the two most important aspects of analytics are visibility and credibility – at least if you expect acceptance and adoption of the process.

Credible measurements and metrics can significantly evolve organisational goals and capabilities and ensure that talent fits seamlessly within the goals and ethos of the business. This credibility lies in using the right tools at the right time and leveraging expertise to ensure that every part of the process is relevant and visible.

“There’s a lot of talk about goal alignment and institutional goals and visibility and talent acquisition,” says Young. “Analytics that measures what matters, that meets strategic objectives, and that helps build benchmarks that fit a thousand unique feet – they are the ones that will allow for the organisation to attract and retain talent across multiple geographies and skillsets. That will help the business benefit from the differences that people bring to their roles and ensure that the fit is far better than 60%.”

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