Um, yeah. Talent Analytics, Data analysis, Big Data, Small Data. Heard about them? Of course you have. Lots of folks are on the HR circuit talking about data or selling tools so HR folks can better leverage data.
Keep in mind, folks, lesson number one about HR data. It’s just like giving a turkey fryer to your cousin Eddie—make sure your customer has a baseline intelligence about the topic, or disaster happens. Big data or small data doesn’t really matter if your leaders don’t know how to react when they see talent data for the first time.
Quick backstory: I work with engineers day in and day out—folks who design and construct the most challenging building projects on the planet—they’re not really down with gut decisions. A lot of black and white in their world, but they have never expected to get any from the HR nerds.
So, here’s the risk—when you give data-hungry people their first glimpse of talent analysis, they sorta freak out. Show an engineer a schematic drawing that she has seen 10,000 times, and she knows what to do with it. Show him a quality of hire analysis using source data tied to performance metrics, and he locks up.
Possible reactions they might have:
– Don’t believe the hype—this is natural. Given that HR folks are the soft science people, others assume that the data might be flawed. You have to get the front end right. Simple and correct beats complex and wrong every time.
– Totally over-correct—“Wait, 12% of hires from Texas A&M were considered high potentials 2 years after hire? Great, let’s only hire Aggie grads. All in to College Station, baby.”
– Look for an agenda—when you all of a sudden bring data to the table, some folks will wonder what you’re trying to do. Keep the analysis pure and agenda free. Bad first metric would be, “98% of people surveyed love our dress code policy.”
– Go Steve Jobs—“That’s nice. What else can you do?” This is the best response—an engaged client asking for additional features is a good thing.
Talent folks bringing data to the table? Just like America’s voters this primary season, expect some cynicism. You can overcome the above negative reactions by partnering with an Ops leader on the front end. Sally, the Production VP, will help you brainstorm how to avoid the traps above, and the bonus is that she’ll be in the room with you when you roll it out, so that adds to your street cred.
One warning—don’t be the Keyser Soze/surprise ending of data. Never show up to a meeting with a group of Ops leaders who aren’t even sure you can spell data, with a 20- slide deck of stuff no has ever seen before. Get some friends in the audience who co-own the analysis with you, and you’ll be on your way to having clients asking you what else you can do to make the talent part of the organization smarter.
FOT Note: This rant is brought to you by the good folks at OutMatch who like us enough to be an annual sponsor at FOT for all content in our Talent Selection and Employee Development track (and don’t expect that we run any of this by them ahead of time).
I have spent the last 20 years of my professional life advising leaders to make great talent decisions to drive business results. In my current gig, I lead talent acquisition and management for a multi-billion-dollar, 100% employee-owned construction company. I geek out on analytics, succession planning, etc. and love it when we position folks to do their best work. That’s fun stuff. I tease bad HR people, because I think we can all do better, myself included. That’s fun, too.