Reading Between The Numbers

reading between the numbers-1
(For complete PDF file click link above)

Efren Alvarez Galapon
Manager, Corporate Quality
Mobile Business Company Ltd. (MBUZZ)
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

A new Director of Administration & Finance has just come aboard a young business enterprise. His first major brief is the status of employee turnover for the year 2014 shown in the graph below.

Wikipedia quotes a common saying on photograph, “A picture is worth a thousand words” that “refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image.” The graph likewise tells something or a lot about the current state of affairs of employment in the company.

The Director is briefed by the Quality Management Representative who is in charge of and responsible for the entire Quality Management System of the company. A vital component of the system is process performance measure, analysis and improvement.

The graph is embedded in a report on Employment Duration of Personnel for the year 2014 aimed at determining employee turnover rate. The company’s goal on personnel employment duration is a minimum of two years—that is, an employee who completes two years of employment is good enough while a lesser duration is not.

Following is what is being read between the numbers.

From January to September 2014, a total of 14 employees left the company. Four stayed in the company within a range of 1-3 months; six within 4-6 months; two within 13-15 months; and one within 19-21 months.

Thirteen out of 14 who left the company within a 9-month period constitutes 92.86%. These employees did not meet the company’s goal of 24-month employment duration.

Only one (7.14%) out of the 14 leavers met the company’s goal by staying with the company for 32.39 months (2.7 years).

The 14 employees who left the company constitute 14% of the 100-manpower workforce.

The Director understood the statistical figures fully well and knew what questions to raise, for example, “Why did these personnel leave the company?” among other. Using the word “why” would lead to certain answers that could be true, false or in between.

We have heard this quotation many times in our corporate lives: “don’t read between the lines” meaning, do not assume or try to discern (on your own personal interpretation) the true meaning of what is being said by a person. On the other hand, reading between or interpreting the numbers of statistical figures as they are reported is what we usually do in our attempt to give meaning to numbers we come by.

After the analysis (scrutiny) and reporting of statistical figures, the recipient (e.g., senior management or decision-makers) is influenced to decide (or not) to direct, initiate or sponsor an improvement undertaking focused toward what the numbers indicate.

Statistical reports remain cold and insignificant pieces of paper destined to oblivion if the numbers they carry are not looked into (analyzed and interpreted appropriately) by management and decision-makers with seriousness.

reading between the numbers-1
(For complete PDF file click link above)


One Response to Reading Between The Numbers

  1. Pingback: Reading Between The Numbers | Industrial / Organizational Dynamics

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