Don’t Fear the Analytics

Published On: May 22, 2017Categories: Analytics

On a Rival, formerly SilkRoad Technology webinar with HR Daily Advisor last week, we talked about how advances in people analytics are augmenting the business and HR operations of modern organizations. The event, called, The Next Frontier of People Analytics, explored how HR can up its game to become a strategic partner and essential source of analytical guidance. 

As our hour concluded, there were many terrific questions, but very honest one in particular caught our attention.

My company is scared of people analytics. What if the results show that something is really wrong?

People analytics involves the practice of extracting information from existing data sets in order to determine patterns and predict future outcomes and trends. It’s now possible to examine data regarding recruitment, performance, employee mobility, and other factors, and use it to determine what does (and doesn’t) drive business results.

People analytics holds the promise of incredible value. It’s not hard to get started, and analytics implementations are known to pay for themselves far more quickly than other types of technology. Yet there is fear: fear of risk and compliance issues, fear of a lack of available talent to leverage data insights, and fear that data is simply too “all over the place.”

But the biggest fear of all is exactly what this participant articulated: that having accurate measurements of talent management practices will reveal weaknesses. This scenario reminds me of the time I asked a fellow HR speaker why she didn’t use evaluation forms. She said: “I’m afraid they will tell me I’m bad.”

By passing up the opportunity to read evaluation forms, the speaker could not learn from her experiences. She would keep doing things the way she’d always done them, and if her approaches weren’t effective, she’d never know. As other speakers got hired over her, she’d lose business.

People analytics is not a panacea (i.e. implement it, and your talent management practices will be immediately bulletproof). As a human-run organization, you are bound to make mistakes, and bound even to fail totally in some cases. But people analytics will help you identify problems and address them sooner, before they put your business in major hot water. People analytics offer rare opportunities to strengthen your organization, to make it a better place to work and a better place from which to buy products and services.

Plus, people analytics data are more objective than speaker evaluation forms.

So, as legendary self-help guru Dale Carnegie said in his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, what’s the worst that can happen? A report shows that something is wrong. This just means that your analytics software is doing its job, and you are doing yours. Now, you have the power to use those insights to do even better. And if you position the news in a positive light, others within the organization will follow your lead. So take off those blinders: what you’ll see will be worth it, I promise.