I’m writing from the Sasin Graduate School in Bangkok, where I’m watching 22
bright Thai Master of HR Management (MHRM) candidates complete an exam. It is
excellent news that the course I teach, which focuses on metrics and
measurements in HR, is a core requirement for the MHRM degree here.
Yes, to get your Masters degree in HRM in this school, you must pass a
course in measuring HR contributions and alignment with the enterprise. I think
this speaks well of the growth and spread of cutting-edge HR practices, as well
as the impact that multinationals have on emerging market economies.
Most of my students are from household-name companies, including Body Shop,
Nestlé and Prudential, among others. Their roles range from HR assistant and
attorney, to MD of a large manufacturer. These corporations are driving the
curriculum content at Sasin and other schools in Thailand.
HR’s role and validation in the Thai enterprise is well understood and
clearly pursued. Managers prowl about with an eye towards demonstrating HR’s
alignment with the business, and validating HR’s successes. I’ve witnessed
similarly fast-moving HR practices in China. These may be called ’emerging
markets’, but they are demonstrating the HR practices of established markets.
A few years back, Thai HR metrics may have been more focused on
activity-tracking than on results and alignment. Now, it is crystal clear the
focus is moving towards understanding activity, and tracking and reporting
This is an important point, as it is far too easy to get caught in a loop of
measurements that only validate that an activity has occurred, without any
regard for the results. This tendency to measure and report activity is
dangerous as HR moves further up the value chain.
While it’s important to show that we are doing things right, it is far more
important to show that we are doing the right things. It is essential that we
are able to draw a link between HR activity, HR results, and the enterprise’s
goals. The frequent failure of HR managers to demonstrate what they do for
their business is probably their biggest boardroom challenge.
Ask yourself: Do you differentiate between measuring activity and measuring
results? Can your business compete, using the results coming out of your own HR
shop? Can you truly compete with what my Thai friends are doing here?
Are you managing results and reporting your successes? Are you showing HR’s
alignment with and contributions to the business? If not, these sharp young
Thais may be in line to take over your job.
By Lance J Richards, Senior director, International HR for Kelly
Services, and a director for SHRM Global Forum