Data can do a lot, but it can’t do everything.


Are you surprised to be reading that from a person whose business centers on data? Who runs statistics all hours of the day and night, who slings charts and graphs left and right?

I stand by this, and I’ll explain what I mean and why it’s actually good news for HR professionals. Read on!

This Might Sounds Like Heresy Coming From Me…

I was asked this question yesterday during a (worldwide, live) panel discussion titled, “Learning From Data.” And I’ve gotta be honest, it threw me for a loop. If you watch the replay you can see the wheels start turning in my head as I grappled for a response.

But the more I thought about Enrique’s question, the more I realized it wasn’t so surprising after all. I’d seen it in action. I’ve been the person who dug into the data and uncovered answers to burning questions…only to see them ignored, shrugged off, or just plan forgotten. Never implemented.

You Can Lead A Horse To Water, But You Can’t Make Her Drink

That old saying popped into my head as I was scrambling to respond yesterday. Data can uncover what’s really going on in your company: the drivers of low employee engagement, the cause of increased turnover. But only a human being who’s willing to hear what the data’s saying can take action based on it. This is something that data absolutely cannot do.

People Skills + Numbers Skills = Your Superpower

While data can’t do that, HR professionals can. They have the skills to understand what resonates with managers and other decision-makers. (In fact, they know who the real decision-makers are!) They have first-hand knowledge of what’s going wrong and getting the most complaints. They see how decisions get made, and what happens when bad decisions are the ones that are implemented.

This is why HR professionals with data skills in their toolbox are so important in organizations. They understand the human element of working with data, the part that requires a person to be open to data, to taking the time to understand it, and then communicate and implement the findings.

Data can’t do that, but HR professionals sure can.

So now over to you. What do you think about this new equation for an HR professional’s superpower? Reply in the comments, or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Not sure how to start looking at your data? Check out my blog post that walks you through how to get started, or download my Data Jumpstart Guide for my 5-Step process. (It’s also available as a private podcast feed if you’d prefer to listen!)



Connect With Me

Are you interested in adding data skills to your toolbox? Book a free 30-minute discussion using the scheduling form below, and we can sketch out a plan for you to develop them. I offer a course as well as private one-to-one coaching.

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