Six Questions to Evaluate Data Quality for Career Pathing

By Rachel Brown

We’ve all heard the phrase garbage in, garbage out, but is HR data really that bad?

With the breakneck speed of ever-evolving job and skills requirements and growing responsibilities across the HR function, most of us don’t have the time to do all the things we would like to do. Postponing projects isn’t a result of laziness or lack of desire as much it is a lack of resources and time to complete all the projects that come up in a day – or a year. Data clean up and competency projects often fall into this category, which leads us to a revised version of that old saying: compromised data in, compromised results out.

If this sounds like you, below are six questions to help determine the impact of data quality on your career pathing initiatives. These provide a high-level assessment of your data quality without requiring extensive investigative work.

1. How many of your organization's jobs and skills descriptions are stored in your HRIS?

a) 25%

b) 50%

c) 75%

d) 100%

Most traditional career planning technology solutions require job and skills data to be in a standardized file format using consistent language and codes. New AI-based career management applications have similar requirements. Data stored in more than one location or platform is more likely to be inconsistent in format, language, and coding. Also, it is likely that the level of effort required to review, reformat, and clean that data will increase with the number of data sources used to compile it.

2. How many of the jobs in your organization have five or more associated skills defined?

a) 25%

b) 50%

c) 75%

d) 100%

One of the key pieces of data used within career planning and job recommendation solutions is skills. Defining more of the required skills for each role will enable more accurate comparisons with an individual employee’s current level of proficiency. This will identify new opportunities that may suit them best, as well as areas for improvement – whether through experience in their current role or personalized training.

3. Are skills across the organization consistently defined?

a) Not defined

b) Mostly inconsistent

c) Somewhat consistent

d) Very consistent

Consistently defining competencies not only helps to identify new opportunities that match employees’ skills, it also enables you to more easily identify company-wide knowledge gaps and align them with training plans. For example, if different parts of your organization require the same skills, but are defining these competencies differently, your learning curriculum may need to be revised so that everyone has the same expectations.

4. How many of the job roles in your organization include skills in the following key categories: core, leadership, and functional/technical?

a) 25%

b) 50%

c) 75%

d) 100%

Like the point above, breadth across defined skills within a single job role is also important when leveraging career planning tools. Many organizations have core skills defined for most job roles, but core skills do not fully describe the range of critical requirements by role.

For example, while both project managers and cybersecurity specialists likely require problem solving to be a core skill, they will also require different technical skills such as Six Sigma project management or network/internet security. To appropriately surface and define career recommendations for employees, a balance of core and technical requirements by job role is best.

5. Have global stakeholders in related function areas reviewed common job descriptions and associated skills?

a) Not at all

b) To some extent

c) To a moderate extent

d) To a great extent

If functional leaders do not agree with defined requirements, employees are less likely to adopt them. Worse, employees may build proficiencies in skills that will not adequately or appropriately impact their individual success or the success of your organization. It is critical to ensure that role descriptions and defined skills accurately reflect the jobs to be done and associated success criteria.

6. In the past two years, has your team reviewed and/or updated job descriptions and associated skills for roles that are quickly evolving?

a) Not at all

b) To some extent

c) To a moderate extent

d) To a great extent

In the recently released IBM Global C-suite Study report for CHROs, Gina Dellabarca, General Manager of Human Resources for Westpac New Zealand, said: ”Our most important priority in HR is finding talent for the future, not just for now. We’re focused on the formidable challenge of attracting, developing, and retaining employees with skills we haven’t yet determined.”

Relying on dated job descriptions and skills requirements makes it harder to create future career paths for employees. It can also affect business growth by lowering operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

If you answered mostly a’s and b’s to all of the questions above, an additional competency or skills framework can supplement your existing organizational data for use in career pathing and coaching initiatives. Successful talent development not only helps employees achieve their potential and develop a rewarding career path within your organization, but ultimately helps your company sustain and grow.

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