Talent Analytics Can Change the World, But Only if You're Ready to Challenge People

January 12, 2016 | Kris Dunn | HCI
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If there's anything we've learned in the last few years, it's that Big Data is going to change the way business gets done. That's true in Finance, it's true in Sales and Marketing and it's true in the Talent world—across both HR and Recruiting.

You can't walk 10 yards at a conference in our industry without seeing a vendor or service provider trumpeting the fact that their offering—regardless of the focus—helps you gain an analytical edge.

In many ways, it's true.  All providers who help you get work done in the Talent function have an unique opportunity to help you compile data. The best ones can even help you understand what it means.  But the brochures and the smooth GUIs hide an important point:

You can only maximize the use of great data if you're willing to use it—as a reward… and as a hammer.

What do I mean by that? If you're attending an HCI conference, odds are you're a Talent leader with an appetite and aptitude for analytics. You've probably got the existing spend that, if properly allocated across solutions, can give you the analytical horsepower you desire and long for.

[EVENT] Workforce Planning & Analytics Conference, February 10-12

Unfortunately, the Field of Dreams tagline, “Build it and they will come," doesn't apply to the masses of humanity in your company finding truth in the dataset you've built.  That goes for leaders as well as line managers who you support.

You build analytical capabilities in your Talent function.  They ignore the truth and keep doing whatever they want to do.

Unless… you have a plan in place to help you use analytics to influence the organization.  Need examples?  Here are four things your HR and Recruiting functions should be prepared to do in order to maximize the organizational impact of talent analytics:

1. Scoreboard the Data and make people change their view of the Talent function.  Most of the departments we support view us as lagging related to being data-driven.  If you don't scoreboard the data and show who's the best, you're missing out on an opportunity.  You've got to show your stakeholders your analytics give you a great view of who's good—and bad.

2. Use experiments and A/B Testing to prove the things you want to spend money on actually work. Smart talent pros with confidence understand data gives them leverage in this way.

3. Get strategic with department leaders by consulting on their team's weaknesses.  Back to the scoreboards for a second—the reporting you do in public doesn't have to include the individual manager level, especially if the data shows someone is weak.  But has their ever been a better consulting opportunity with the leadership of your company—as well as functional area leadership—to prove you can contribute to business results and help them fix problems?  It's consulting 101: Be data-driven, then make recommendations for change.

4. Use individual scores to apply pressure whenever it's needed.  Let's face it—there's always going to be people who don't care about your agenda on Talent.  Those people can cause a lot of harm to the business and create employee relations issues everywhere they go.  Assuming that management style shows up in your analytics, sometimes you're going to have to use that data to get behavioral  (or organizational) change.  Use the data to confront as necessary, or just accept that things won't change.

Learn More: Talent Strategies that Thrive

If you build it, will they come?  Not unless you have a plan in place to show the organization you've grown from a data perspective.  Plan to showcase your analytics in the ways I describe above, and you'll get the change you need.