Stop the Revolving Door With People Analytics

By Wayne Elsey

You want the best talent for your business, nonprofit or social enterprise.

I know, I’m a CEO and leader and I want the best people on my team too.

We’re now in the era of “people analytics.”

What’s People Analytics?

I think you know we’re living in the world of big data. That’s not a bad thing. In the case of hiring talent, I believe firmly there will always be a need for the art of it. I want to meet and get a feel for the people I hire on my team. I think chemistry is important. I want to know what makes people tick. I want to know what excites them. I want to know how they think.

People analytics helps give managers more information. Understand this. Work is becoming more complex, not less. The infusion of technology into the workspace has forced practically everyone-no matter what age-to adapt. At a minimum, every person on my team, for example, better understand social media. It doesn’t matter what they do or their job function. If they don’t understand social media, and it’s importance to our business, they don’t understand the business. Period.

People analytics provides managers with quantitative information. In the old days, we were talking about talent acquisition, development, and retention. In many ways, it was almost in its own silo outside of business strategy and planning. People analytics brings human talent squarely into business decisions. It brings concrete information into the hands of managers who can then make strategic business decisions based on performance and scalability.

In other words, human resources has entered into the heart of business strategy.

People analytics helps managers and leaders to influence behaviors that will lead to better outcomes. It’s more strategic and it’s based on data. Yes, data has to have context for interpretation, but data is solid.

We have now entered the era of fully using data to manage people and business outcomes.


Bye, Bye Talent Management

Business leaders throughout the country are moving away from the squishy talent management paradigm. Again, I think a part of that will always be essential, but the move to data to analyze performance is critical. It’s so critical that in my own businesses, I’m looking at data on performance each and every day. I quantify jobs and that helps me, as a manager, to make better decisions about the people and work we do. I understand how the people on my teams are actually driving the revenue-even if they have nothing to do with sales.

It might sound like a game of semantics, but talent management is giving way to people management and analytics. Talent management implied the need for talent. In other words, scarcity. People management implies knowledge, engagement, and empowerment of the teams.

Think about it. That’s so essential to the world we live in today. How can we possibly think we can engage the outside world if we can’t actively engage our own work teams? How can we know what will work for those outside of our organizations if we don’t know what works for those inside our organizations to provide better impact?

That means we, as managers, have to not only attract people, but they have to be the right people. With today’s people analytics tools a manager can see with the data if the people who are on the team are actually the right people for the job. It goes beyond just the qualitative information and adds a whole other layer of information.


People Analytics Helps Find the Leaders

If you work on my team, you’re going to know that I care very much about developing leaders. As a matter of fact, I make strategic decisions that will compel people to become leaders. This is driven by the performance data that comes across my desk every day. I know when we’re doing well and I know when the data is telling me we have a problem. I know what behaviors may be contributing to low performance and I address it.

This data is empowering workers. The ones who can work successfully and in every aspect outperform, including in data, are the ones who are rising to the top within my organization. These people are self-identifying and when I see that spark, I pay attention.

I want leaders. I would be happy to spend my entire time developing leaders. It’s fascinating to me to pay it forward this way. Rest assured, when I see the qualitative and quantitative data come together for an individual, I will do everything I can to make sure this person begins to have leadership opportunities.


What Does People Analytics Mean for the Future?

The next time you’re looking to see who’s on the HR team, check out the statisticians and engineers working with that person. People analytics has blown up the old paradigm.

What’s fascinating about it is that data is being used to understand everything. By capturing and analyzing data, teams and leadership are understanding their businesses. It’s all one and the same. I’ll give you an easy way to think about it. Up until recently, if you ended up in a hospital and got an infection, perhaps you would pique the interest of a lawyer. Today, whole teams are working on people analytics to understand what medical staff is doing (and why) within hospitals and units to cause high levels of infections. Once they get that information, they are then understanding the issues related to human error or understanding of directives and they are proactively addressing these things to drive down infections.

What does people analytics mean for the future? It means we are going to become incredibly precise at understanding the reasons why of things-with data-and then turn that information into better management practices of our teams. It means that the more we understand, the more we can change behaviors and increase retention. When something works like a well-oiled machine, employees typically want to stay there.




Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)


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