Marcus Buckingham’s 3 Important Shifts HR Needs to Make

Marcus Buckingham, HR Shifts, HR Leaders, Real Time Data, Big Data

I ALWAYS enjoy listening to Marcus Buckingham (@mwbuckingham) – I always have key learnings and takeaways every time.

Today’s big takeaways? Buckingham reveals the three most important shifts in HR.

The most important shifts in HR

1. There will be a focus away from the organization and more towards the team leader.

We need to understand the importance of the QUALITY of the team leader – and not just focus on the range of the organization. Today, HR doesn’t build people tools for the team leader, we build them for the organization – as HR we have an opportunity to build tools for the team leader. HR has built systems that work for HR and senior leaders (performance management, engagement surveys, strengths finders/competencies), but they don’t work for managers who are trying to integrate those systems into actions to manage their people.

 2. Shift away from BIG data and move towards real-time reliable data.

We have a large focus on big data, but there is a problem. “So much of the people data that we pull is garbage,” states Buckingham and he goes on to explain that one of the biggest culprit is our performance management data. Often times a performance rating tells you more about the rater (the manager) than the person that you are rating. Its called the “The Idiosyncratic Rater Effect.” This effect states that a manager’s rating of their employee is driven not by who the employee is, rather on the manager’s  own idiosyncrasies.  Researchers estimate that 61% of an employee’s performance rating is more about the manager than employee.  Think that you can cancel out this effect by doing a 360 assessment? Sadly, you’d be mistaken.You take one piece of bad data and then combine it with 5 more pieces of bad data – so, you still bad data.  The shift needs to be how HR can get real time RELIABLE data. There are three keys to help you get to reliable data: 1)Decided what to do with each person; 2)Create a natural ‘unforced’ range of data, and then 3) Reveal the range (reliably).

Which leads into Buckingham’s third point.

3. Move away from Leadership to What Do the Best Leaders Actually Do

The best leaders have constant check in with their employees and inherently understand how to balance a team to focus on the “we” and the “me” — they have a pulse on their workers so that everyone has a sense of how to make the team work together towards a common goal (focus on the “we”) but to also balance the individual so that each worker knows that they are playing to their talents and strengths (focus on the “me”)Buckingham revealed 8 questions that team leaders should be asking. The key to these questions is that they don’t ask the employee to rate the manager on anything, it is asking the employee to rate THEIR experience or a rating of about themselves.

Buckinghams’s  speaking at #shrm15 about the 8 questions that all leaders should ask employees; photo source  Mary Faulkner via twitter @mfaulkner43

The eight questions will be released soon by Buckingham’s company, TMBC, to Survey Monkey for managers everywhere to use for free (Woot! Love free). Just in case you can’t wait, here there are:

Eight questions released


  • I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company
  • At work I clearly understand what is expected of me


  • In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values
  • I have a chance to use my strengths every day at work


  • My teammates have my back
  • I know I will be recognized for good work


  • I have great confidence in my company’s future
  • In my work, I am always challenged to grow

What do you think about Marcus Buckingham’s three important shifts for HR?

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Andrea Devers

Andrea is an HR technologist and change management expert. She’s has built her career in global HR Compliance, HR process improvement, and shared services across all functions of HR. Connect with Andrea.

Reader Interactions


  1. Paul Bailey says

    Thanks for sharing, fan of Marcus as well. I think he is right on. As a training and development strategist much of my time is spent with managers and supervisors and dealing with relationship building skills and tools. Leadership effectiveness is very much dependent on the relational strength. It takes skill and a lot of intentional effort but its not rocket science. As stated in your article it all comes down to what leaders do and how they behave.

    Great stuff, thanks for sharing


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