It would be really good to say that MI’s notion of HR maturity is rapidly catching on but, as with all brilliantly simple ideas, you need to be able to distinguish between the authentic version and the counterfeit. On the left is an alternative ‘maturity framework’ used by Mercer. It starts with “Step 1 – What is going on?” Yes, that is a good question, Mercer; what exactly is going on?
Mercer sells “Workforce Metrics Benchmarking Reports” but HR benchmarking is a very old and tired idea. Old-style HR benchmarking is a sure sign of immaturity because it fails to take into account the fact that each organizational context is unique: it is incapable of comparing apples with apples. The more intelligent Mercer consultants are only too well aware of this but if you make your living out of selling meaningless reports then all that matters is having enough immature HR customers who are willing to buy.
So who says Mercer produces meaningless reports? Well actually Mercer does.
Here is a slide that Mercer uses as part of its own promotional webcast. You will notice that when Mercer advises “When not to use benchmarks” it specifically refers to that ubiquitous HR metric “the number of people that should be in a (HR) function“. On this point MI and Mercer would be in total agreement.
However, compare that advice with this slide (from the same webcast) where Mercer declares that its “Average number of FTE’s supported by HR FTE” benchmark somehow reveals that “Mexico and Brazil seem to be understaffed”. What is going on Mercer?
There is not too much of a mystery here. The reason MI exists at all is to find the most intelligent HR people, from around the world, who can see this nonsense for what it is. HR departments that buy Mercer’s benchmarking reports are signing their own death warrants by revealing just how immature and nonsensical their thinking is. MI is here to promote the most effective HR practices and knows it can only do so with HR adults working to develop organizational maturity.
The other reason MI exists is to set objective, internationally recognised, professional HR standards. MI is a Professional Institute, not a consultancy, and any consultants who want to work under the MI umbrella will have to exhibit much greater intelligence and integrity than Mercer has managed to muster so far. To any intelligent Mercer consultants out there, who might have an aspiration to become MI-accredited, you will be made very welcome; as long as you check your meaningless benchmarks at the door.