Arguing or finally talking?

I looove the movie Jerry Maguire.  It’s one of those movies I watch whenever it’s on TV, along with The Wedding Singer or The Sound of Music.  Everytime I watch it, I unpeel another layer and discover that I love it even more, especially for its classic quotes from Tom Cruise (aka Jerry Maguire):

Show me the money!”

“Help me help you!”

“You complete me.”

And my personal but perhaps more obscure favourites (and go figure, they’re all from Cuba Gooding Jr. aka Rod Tidwell):

“You are hanging on by a very thin thread.  And I DIG THAT ABOUT YOU!”

“You bet on me like I bet on you.”

“See, some dudes might have the coin, but they will never have the kwan. Truth, love, respect.”

I find that quotes and lessons from Jerry Maguire can be applied to several moments of my life, in the same way that folks claim that episodes of Friends frequently parallel their own lives.  Let’s take last week as an example… I facilitated an HR metrics course and was challenged left right and centre about the standard HR metric formulas and some example calculations.  After all the explaining and defending, I felt exhausted and exposed.  It was a tough morning and I wondered if this is what it felt like being in Scared Straight!.

I snuck out at lunch for a walk around the block to clear my head and just chill out.  The morning was disaster, disaster I say!  I felt like I was arguing with the students and defending my work all morning.  Then it hit me that I’ve seen this pattern in the past.  All the best teams I’ve worked with and all the successful endeavours I’ve been a part of, they all started off with good, old-fashioned have at ‘er debates.

I needed to keep in mind that people are new to this measuring thing and everyone has gotten used to measuring turnover or absenteeism in one way.  Being presented with one standard formula as the end all and be all is a difficult pill to swallow.  At the initial stages of anything, people question everything and that’s a good thing.

It’s only through different perspectives and by questioning everything do you think through everything, make good decisions and are ready to defend/explain them at any time.  By questioning what I was doing, these students were thinking, learning, and absorbing, getting ready to go out in the world and apply their knowledge and defend it to the ones who question them.  This was just one of those times that I needed reminding to keep my ego in check because at the end of the day, it’s not all about me.

And yet sometimes it is.  Here’s where Jerry Maguire and my life intersect once again, with Rod standing in the locker room and screaming at his agent Jerry:

“See, that’s the difference between us.  You think we’re fighting, and I think we’re finally talking.”

rod tidwell

Introducing, the Rod Tidwell



2 Responses

  1. Helen,

    I agree with you that it is good to question and challenge HR metrics, and especially the formulas. HR professionals need to have data credibility (founded on solid transactional data management, consistent formulas, and clear data-driven insights) when communicating results to management.

    However, having led numerous workshops where the audience spent the bulk of time arguing about formulas, I have to ask: What workforce risks and opportunities are we missing in our focus on getting the denominator correct?

    The more we can encourage HR professionals to spend time learning about the business drivers impacting talent management decisions, translating headcount numbers into financial results, and finding segments (critical job families, new hires, etc) we they can run analysis of the issues, the greater the likelihood that their metrics will drive action.

    If start with the big picture, then find the right level of data accuracy (high for reporting, lower for workforce planning), we stand a much better chance of creating a culture of data utilization inside and outside of HR.


    • I agree with you that HR needs to spend time learning about business drivers, translating HR into dollars and segmenting data to glean the real valuable information. Without this knowledge, HR metrics is a useless exercise! Luckily, I cover all this stuff in the afternoon portion of my course! =)

      But the morning is spent in detail getting down and dirty with the formulas as I find that’s where HR people get scared off and they start in on the “I hate math” bit. Based on an HR metrics trends survey I recently did, people complained the most about not having access to standardized formulas. When I first started in my measurement journey at a major local company, I spent lots of time learning the basics of metrics, understanding the data elements and providing quality data because more than anything I was questioned on the formulas and the data. Once I got street cred, I got to focus on the bigger picture and was listened to.

      It’s all so chicken or the egg… wouldn’t mind hearing if you have any additional insights!

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