Deb Dwyer HSD Metrics

How many of us got into Human Resources because someone told us we’re a “people person?” Chances are that you have heard this many times.

Of course…

You’re fair. Cautious. An outstanding communicator and negotiator. You believe in ethics, and hope to do what’s best for both employees and management.

In short, you give HR a good name.

These inherent qualities, coupled with a keen understanding of the inner workings of organizations and situational precedents, can take you a long way. But can they take you all the way? How do you move from, say, the manager level at a medium-sized business to CHRO in the Fortune 500?

I contend that two key skills separate the wheat from the chaff. The good news is that, with a little effort, you can incorporate both of these skills into what you already do every day at work – and it will show in the way your hard work is received.

Some HR executives may not even think about how often they use these skills every day. But our most disciplined and successful clients show their strengths in these areas time and time again.


It’s official: the data-driven world is here. As an HR professional, you can either choose to be afraid of data or embrace it. In the same way that basic software can turn a competent employee into an unusually productive one, the right tools can turn you into an insight machine just as quickly.

How does a data-driven HR department pull ahead of its peers? It uses data and analysis to reveal measurable turnover trends that would otherwise remain vague concerns. It holds management – and itself – accountable, and it can do so because it has the hard facts to make a case. On the other hand, it quantifies its own success as a business unit.

The bigger the organization, the more problematic mistakes, inconsistencies, inefficiencies and discouraging trends become. The HR pro who adapts to data-driven methodologies to tackle issues inspires confidence that he or she can do the same at any scale.


When you’re managing all these different facets of an organization’s day-to-day functions, it can become exceedingly difficult to see the forest for the trees. As a colleague is fond of saying, you’re just doing “stuff.” How do you show your worth when you’re busy creating new hire packets and updating contact information?

Get in your manager’s head. Get in your manager’s manager’s head, if such a person exists. How does the workforce need to change? How does the business itself need to adapt? What do we want people to think of us?

There are two ways to think about this kind of attitude. One is “not my business” – as in, it’s not my business to think about these things, so why bother. See where that gets you.

Or, you can demonstrate that the direction of the business actually matters to you. Ask questions. Use the insights you’ve gathered to make inferences. Propose new ideas.

Showing an interest is even more important than understanding. If you make the effort to develop your left brain, I think you’ll begin seeing the dividends before you know it.

GUEST BLOG BIO: Deb Dwyer is the founder and president of HSD Metrics, a provider of organizational surveys designed to increase retention, engagement and organizational effectiveness. With over 30 years of combined experience in human resource management and survey research, Deb’s extensive knowledge reaches beyond organizational research to include expertise in work climate improvement, retention, hiring and selection, employee orientation, performance management systems, recognition programs and career development systems.

Tess Taylor

Tess Taylor is the Founder and CEO of HR Knows

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