Ford CEO Alan Mulally is known for starting meetings by saying “Data will set you free” and for trying to change Ford’s culture to one that is based on increased accountability,

Ford CEO Alan Mulally is renowned for kickstarting meetings with the mantra “Data will set you free” and spearheading efforts to transform Ford’s culture into one rooted in heightened accountability, increased information sharing, and stringent metrics. Mulally emphasizes the futility of managing secrets, underscoring the necessity of transparency. While the effectiveness of Mulally’s approach at Ford, a company notorious for its siloed divisions and limited information exchange, remains uncertain, some firms have thrived by managing employees through concrete metrics. Freescale Semiconductor, based in Austin, Texas, exemplifies this approach.

At Freescale, a computer chip manufacturer with 24,000 employees across 30 countries, the critical focus is on ensuring the right people are in the right roles at the right time. This requires an extensive framework of metrics to guide management decisions. Employee retention is of paramount concern, as Jignasha Patel, Freescale’s director of global talent sourcing and inclusion, emphasizes, "There’s no greater cost than human capital, especially in the technology industry." The departure of a seasoned employee represents a loss of invaluable knowledge, networks, and skills.

To combat turnover and effectively manage talent, Freescale holds line managers accountable for recruitment, hiring, and retention. Managers must forecast future talent needs and align them with projected availability. Patel equips them with census data to inform their projections, but ultimately, the onus lies with the managers. "We have consolidated all our inclusion data and metrics, transferring accountability to the business units," Patel explains.

Additionally, Patel furnishes Freescale managers with benchmark data for performance comparison across units. This includes metrics on hiring, turnover, promotions, and demographic breakdowns. Patel underscores, "There’s a return on investment for every action we take," highlighting the strategic value of data-driven management practices.