Compensation Data vs Compensation Intelligence

Compensation Data vs Compensation Intelligence

A few months ago at the request of one of my HR colleagues, I did a little informal presentation on the topic of “Data is not the same as Intelligence” to her team.

Her challenge was that her department was tracking a lot of information, but no-one was finding it relevant or useful. They were spending a lot of time producing KPIs and reports that did not attract any feedback or readership from the rest of the HR Leadership team or from the company’s management.

When she tried to discuss the topic with her team, they did not understand her message and felt that because of the efforts they were putting in order to produce the report, “people” should be reading it. No-one thought to query whether the information they were producing was relevant or informative to any audience. They were data-tracking for the sake of data-tracking and had lost the sense of purpose that had led to the creation of the data capture in the first place.

Compensation data or compensation intelligence ?The difference between data and information, and how to turn this information into value for our clients (employees and managers), is what makes us into trusted partners – or not.

This applies to all aspects of HR, from internal KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to external SLAs (Service Level Agreements), to identifying trends and proactively proposing programmes that support the business strategy… and it’s also valid in any field (R&D, Marketing, Sales, Finance…).

So next time you will produce a report, try to remember the following things :

  • Who is the audience ? Is it internal to your team, or “external” ie to the rest of HR, to other departments, to Top Management ?
  • What will bring value to them ? KPIs and SLAs are useful, especially when you want to check if your operations are running smoothly. And I understand that you feel proud of your achievements and want to show off all the clever things you did when you implemented this new bonus system or that retention scheme… but to be honest, other than you (and your boss so that she can evaluate your performance), no-one really cares about it.


You should always strive to achieve Intelligence, or insight as Geoffrey James described it in The Four Levels of Business Knowledge.

This is the minimum that senior management will expect from anyone. This way they can have a clear understanding of what is going on in their organisation. This intelligence, when you are able to add your own recommendations to it, transforms C&B into one of the most useful partners to the organisation.

Yes, the CFO and CEO want to know how much the latest bonus payout cost to the company… but this is only data. Provide them with correlation statistics between performance ratings and the size of the bonus payment (is it 150% of target bonus, or is 102%), and some proposals to improve the link between pay and performance, and you become the star who provided intelligence into the future disengagement of top performers and their potential resignation – which could be a big blow to your company.

So go for it and try to produce the most relevant reports, targeted to your exact audience!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Great, I loved it. We can so easily fall into this trap and that’s precisely when HR/C&B stops being relevant for the organization.


  1. […] bore them with excruciating details of your technical prowess. Your value will shine if you provide the insight they need, not if you scream for attention with a useless KPI […]

Speak Your Mind