What is People Analytics really about? How does it work? How will it impact your job and how can it help organisations enhance their talent assessments?
For a lot of us, data can feel like a distant concept. This magical data we can’t see or touch that’s all around us, patiently waiting for someone to figure out how to use it and then change the world. Whilst we’re not quite there yet in the world of Talent Assessment, we’re starting to see People Analytics have a rapidly growing impact across almost every aspect of our work…
What does People Analytics promise us?
At its core, the promise of data in the context of People Analytics is about redefining what we mean by success at work. The ‘what’ being the criteria we use to assess talent. Whether it’s competencies, strengths, motivation, engagement or ability, People Analytics changes our approach to criteria modelling and design. It does this in two simple but significant ways; through speed and by offering access to more data than ever before.
This increased pace will inevitably bring quicker and more nuanced insights into the markers of success. For me, the most exciting prospect is the real possibility of creating ‘Talent Loops’; whereby there’s a continuous flow of data bridging the gap between selection assessments and on-going development. Over time, this will help us unlock some of the complexities of human behaviour that predict success, gaining insight into new areas we simply don’t know about yet.
People Analytics in practice
Well, that’s the grand plan. But the practical impact on my day-to-day consultant life is already clear. I continue to ask questions like ‘what are your talent challenges?’, but with a slight shift to ‘what data, any data, (assessment, development, commercial, people, customer-related), can you share with us?’. And it’s obviously the ‘any data’ bit that’s changed. It’s subtle, but important.
To make People Analytics coherent and practical, Cubiks has established a unique mix of Psychologists and Data Scientists collaborating to analyse data and contextualise it within the world of Human Behaviour. We call this ‘Humanising Data’. Our Data Scientists have created neat frameworks that match and pair data to enable advanced analysis almost automatically, with psychologists exploring the impact on people at work. We then collaborate with our IT Teams to transform new insights into exciting tech-led solutions.
The 3i Model: Intelligence, Insight, Inspiration
At Cubiks, we call our approach to Analytics the 3i Model, and it requires the explicit sharing of data at every step of the design process and beyond.
What’s the business question, and what data exists that we can explore?
Our Data Scientists take this data and throw it into their Data Frameworks to highlight things that may or may not be useful.
Our Psychologists work with Data Scientists and IT Experts to make sense of these strange new insights, using technology to find the most cost effective and impactful solutions.
Sharpen your assessment criteria
People Analytics can therefore help businesses sharpen the criteria used to assess candidates for specific and general roles as well as target salient talent challenges, such as retention. For Cubiks, it means our psychologists work faster to enhance theoretical models and keep up with insights from this new data. No longer will the pace of technological change be the primary focus, but how the data could shape a global, generic model of predicting job success that either enhances or completely reworks our existing knowledge. Is there such thing as a global criteria for success? Is potential a useful concept? Should we be focusing on competence or strength, or more likely, a combination of multiple criteria?
If you’ve heard murmurs that nothing’s changed in our industry over the past 30 years; that it’s still based on the Big 5 and competencies, then People Analytics may be the breath of fresh air you’re waiting for. It could make the next 5 years look unrecognisable in comparison, let alone the next 30.
Whether social media algorithms suggest what we ‘like’ is a much better predictor than direct observation of behaviour, or artificial intelligence learns how a single micro-expression predicts career success in 5 years’ time, People Analytics is so exciting because we just don’t yet know what we might find. We thought virtual reality or some clever augmented reality was the next great talent innovation, but for me, it’s how data will shape criteria which could have the greatest impact on the next Talent Revolution, whenever that is.
And there’s only one question left – where is all of your fascinating talent data?
James is a principal psychologist working in Cubiks' UK team based in Guildford. His role involves interacting with a wide range of clients, helping them explore their HR challenges and how they can be turned into opportunities. James often writes on talent management issues and trends for industry publications in the UK.
Originally published by HR Grapevine.