What is the single largest driver of success for your business? It’s your people. Without them, your business does not exist, is unable to do what it does, and cannot serve your customers or clients.
Performance management is the art of managing people and helping them to grow and thrive, all while taking the organization forward. However, there’s often a disconnect between organizational growth and the success of its employees. People analytics (PA) promises to help improve performance outcomes across the board.
What Is People Analytics?
People analytics is a relatively new term that’s been kicking around for a decade or so, all the while growing in popularity. What started with a handful of big companies like Google is now becoming more and more mainstream: it’s the application of advanced analytics and Big Data to help manage your in-house talent. As it becomes more popular, people analytics is also changing.
Originally, PA focused on either individual HR processes or specialized talent. That’s natural considering where the practice originated (within Silicon Valley, where specialized talent is the most common type). However, PA is being adapted to suit a growing number of needs, including fostering performance improvements for entire businesses, not just individual departments or processes.
In fact, with the right application and dedication to collecting data and mapping the talent chain, it is possible to improve customer service and satisfaction, job performance, profitability, and more.
Turning Employee Behavior and Experience into Usable Data
If you think about it, managers have always turned employee behavior and experience into data. An underperforming employee is measured, potential solutions are gauged, corrective actions are taken, and the results are then measured, parsed, and studied. People analytics allows you to do something similar on a much larger scale.
Does It Matter?
The first step in this process is to define what matters most. Not all outcomes can have the same value, so it is important to determine what you are shooting for and for all stakeholders to agree in advance. You cannot afford to get through the process only to find out that Stakeholder A and Stakeholder C have dramatically different ideas about the outcomes.
Will you focus on revenue growth? Customer satisfaction? Speed of service? A combination of the three? Any metrics (or combination of metrics) can be used here. However, the C-suite will need to delve deep and discuss what metrics to track, why they matter, and how they will be used.
Know What You Don’t Know
People analytics is based on data (what you know). However, there are gaps here. You must define what you don’t know (which requires the knowledge of not knowing) and begin to fill those gaps.
Depending on the metrics you choose, you will need to augment your existing data in a wide range of other areas. For instance, if you are attempting to measure performance within a specific location, you should have access to information about shift performance, individual performance, profitability over time, and more. However, you might require additional information regarding:
- Who is being hired
- The talents, traits, and skills they bring to the table
- The personalities and cognitive capabilities of existing and new employees
- How your people are managed in a particular location on a day-to-day basis
- What employees do during their shifts, including behavior and interactions with customers, with one another, and with managers/leaders
Connect the Dots
Once you surface new sources of data, it is time to put them to work and combine them with other sources of information. Traditional information sources can include HR profiles of employees, business financial performance information, and more. You need to align each of those sources to build learning models that display the relationship between reality and desired outcomes.
Once you have your learning models in hand, you must begin testing ideas on changing the paradigm. What happens to customer service quality when X occurs? What happens with customer satisfaction ratings when Y occurs? How will employees react to A, B, and C in terms of job performance? What impact does combining H, I, and J have on job performance and employee attitudes?
Note that the process of connecting the dots can be lengthy and will require a deep commitment. It’s tempting to just start throwing possible solutions at the problem and hoping that something “sticks”, but that’s the wrong path to take. Without an accurate, measured approach, you’re just guessing, although those guesses might be based on factual data.
Prepare for Surprises
Stakeholders must go into this process with an open mind. There will be surprises. For instance, you might find that employee personality has as much to do with profitability as employee skills or hours worked during a shift. For instance, people who socialize more are often risk-takers (for good or ill) and many times have a more altruistic outlook on the world. On the other hand, people who are good at following up with others but are less altruistic could be better suited for management roles.
You may also find that shorter shifts more times per week deliver better performance, although they increase managerial complexity, that monetary compensation does not matter as much as a performance lever as career advancement, and that “good” management does not necessarily mean managers who have been with the company the longest, but those who create a stronger team environment and inspire their team members.
Apply What You’ve Learned
At the end of the day, all the knowledge in the world is useless if you do not apply it. Take the insights gleaned through your in-depth analysis, hypothesis testing, and other efforts and put them to work. Set meaningful performance goals and then empower your people to reach them through levers that have meaning for them.
Tracking all that data is a big ask, though. Make sure you have the right technology to support success and make gleaning critical insights simpler. Contact us at eLeaP to learn more about how our digital performance management system can help improve your people analytics.