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HR on ‘cusp of analytics revolution’

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 | By Paul Nettleton
Human resources is “on the cusp of a revolution” as big as that in the use of data and analytics in sport, attendees at the CIPD Talent Management conference heard last week.

Alf Turner, who is director of organisational transformation at Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and former HR director at British Gas, said talent managers would be more able to predict the success of individuals and the organisation.

Turner made the prediction as he talked about the “best care, anywhere” strategy of the Royal Surrey, a medium-sized district general hospital in Guildford that is also a world-leading cancer centre.

“What we’re about is a service industry,” he said. The focus was on improving the patient experience. But he admitted that “some people don’t get it”. Later he noted: ”We have people who are clinical geniuses but from a management point of view are useless.”

And he set this in the context of the “totally fragmented” structures of an NHS that employs 1.2m people and is constantly open to criticism, including in the media.

There were, he said, no common processes for talent or performance management. With trade union involvement even at quite senior levels, he presented a scenario or resistance to change where people saw pay increments as an entitlement.

At Royal Surrey he has was seen by some as ‘Attila the Hun’ after putting 200 increments on hold under new agreements that give trusts the ability to link pay to performance.

New systems enabled alignment of the talent management agenda – real performance and potential assessment, career development – with a defined business strategy.  

There had been significant ‘data cleaning’ challenges solved by crowdsourcing the construction of a trust-wide organisational hierarchy through a web form staff were invited to complete.

But placing of staff within a nine-box grid of potential vs performance indicators had been a “business process” not completed bottom-up.

He also spoke of the retention challenge when people could take jobs in London’s national and internationally famous hospitals 30 miles up the road.
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