What Analytics Should Mean to You

Big Data is shaping up to be the buzz trend of the 21st century with the widest-ranging implications and impacts. I can’t think of a single aspect of business where it won’t come into play in some form, including talent management and HR. This is one of those areas where talent management and HR could really blow it and miss leveraging big data and analytics into business-boosting results.


Perhaps the biggest challenge of all is for TM/HR departments to immediately stop thinking of analytics as something someone else will do for them. Too many are relying on their company’s IT departments or outside consultants to fulfill their analytics needs, and that’s the wrong approach.

The promise of big data and analytics includes guidance for more informed decision-making leading to improved practices that drive business results. Despite what consultants may promise, you will not reap the full benefits of analytics until you develop the capacity to do it in your department, independent of your company’s IT department and outside consultants. That may seem like a pretty bold statement, but I’m convinced it’s the only way to go.

Whether it’s hiring, training, boosting productivity, or retaining top-notch talent, analytics can give you the competitive edge you’re looking for. You needn’t leave your critical decisions in these areas up to hunches and intuition – you can leverage big data through analytics to make well-informed evidence-based decisions.

Much of what’s out there, however, fails to go beyond merely saying you need to be doing analytics, focusing on the why rather than the how. If you want to get serious about leveraging Big Data for greater success, then you need to start developing the following skills in your department:

  • Analytical and critical thinking.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Drawing conclusions from data analysis.
  • Predictive modeling.
  • Presenting and communicating findings.
  • Decision-making.

Think about some of the things you pay attention to in the hiring process to figure out who you think will excel at your company. You might look at grade point average from a candidate’s college education, or how they scored on standardized tests, and of course whatever you can glean from the interview process. Google has learned that all of those are poor predictors of performance compared to what you can learn from workforce analytics. Google collects the data about why its top performers do well and then feeds that back into the hiring process. The results are much more effective than the more traditional approaches mentioned. In fact, quality analytics might render those approaches largely obsolete.

But make no mistake – there are more than ample opportunities to make missteps in attempting to use data to guide your hiring activities. That’s why it’s worth putting the time and effort into developing your in-department analytics capabilities.

An excellent place to start is assessing your staff’s analytics competency. A useful tool for doing this is the CEB Insight IQ from the Corporate Executive Board. It assesses a person’s ability to both find and analyze relevant data to make better decisions. The Insight IQ measures a combination of three critical elements, including information attainability, information usefulness, and employee capability. Don’t be surprised if fewer than half of your employees achieve a score indicating the level of competency you need to reap the benefits of Big Data. Although such a finding is sobering, it’s also something that can be changed with the right training.

It’s also worth noting that just because someone is good at analytics doesn’t mean they’re good at figuring out the best ways to communicate the findings. If anything, the opposite tends to be true. You’ll need to make sure you’ve got staff on hand who can translate the data into formats that help people understand it and use it in the decision-making process.

The final think to keep in mind is that you’ll want to begin establishing a data-driven culture not only in your department but throughout your company in order to reap the full benefits of Big Data and analytics. Cultural change is never easy to achieve in the corporate setting, but in this case it’s both necessary and well worth the effort.

May 28, 2015   Updated :May 28, 2015   analytics, talent management   

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