So the summer holiday is over as August ends, September begins, the children are back at school and conference season is nearly upon us.
August was an eventful month for me. The first two weeks were spent in Singapore and then Australia and culminated in me speaking at LinkedIn’s Talent Intelligence Experience event in Sydney (see here). Thank you to Sarah Husbands and the LinkedIn team for looking after me and also the likes of Arun Sundar, Ben Bars, Priya Bagga, Chris Nguyen, Sally Smith, Philip Gibbs, Shaun Keating, Hunter Morgan Davis and especially Manish Goel, for hosting, meeting and/or eating with me during my memorable trip.
August was also a surprisingly prolific month for high-quality people analytics and future of work articles. My 12 favourite ones are presented below:
1. VOLKER JACOBS - A Maturity Model for Employee Experience
One of the biggest focus areas for HR leaders continues to be the need to understand and improve employee experience. People analytics teams are increasingly at the forefront of efforts to analyse, design and personalise compelling work experiences across the employee lifecycle. As such, the maturity model outlined by Volker Jacobs in this brilliant article (see also Figure 1) will undoubtedly assist many organisations in this effort. Look out for the examples provided on the ‘Moments that Matter’ in the employee journey. This is an approach and model that Volker and his team at TI People have created together with over 20 member companies including the likes of BMW, Bosch, Cisco, Roche and Zalando.
2. AMIT MOHINDRA – Poetry in People Analytics
This is a beautifully written piece by Amit Mohindra, one of the foremost people analytics leaders on the planet and who until recently led the people analytics team at Apple. As Amit states at the outset "people analytics leaders are in the business of change management". He then proceeds to outline a clear vision on how this can be achieved drawing a clever parallel with his boyhood poem of choice “Where the Mind is Without Fear”.
“The data to insight is the easy part. The real challenge comes in driving action based on that insight. This is truly where we need HR leaders to lead with their head held high”
3. GIOVANNI EVERDUIN - In Analytics, the Questions Come First | TRACEY SMITH - 17 Analytics Ideas to Get You Started
As Tracey Smith rightly advises in her article, the key to success in people analytics is to focus on and prioritise business questions of value to your company. Tracey then goes on to offer 17 examples of questions that you may want to consider. Giovanni Everduin’s article, which gives three steps to getting started with people analytics also gives primacy to formulating questions that are not just aimed at HR but are ones that the organisation’s leadership team want answered. Giovanni, who built people analytics from the ground-up at Tanfeeth, also outlines the importance of balancing small vs. big data as well as the imperative of getting the buy-in and active participation of key stakeholders within your company. Without this, you will not succeed. Two excellent articles.
"The key to success in analytics is to focus on and prioritize business questions of value to your company" Tracey Smith
4. STACEY HARRIS - When the Data Says You’re Wrong (and what to do about it)
Ensuring that you ask the right questions is also the first recommendation of Stacey Harris in her superb article on the consistently excellent HR Examiner. As Stacey outlines, data has a habit of busting myths and providing counterintuitive insights that suggest your original opinion is wrong. Beyond asking the right questions, Stacey provides a number of other steps you should take before you fall on your sword. This includes advice around areas such as data accuracy, sample size, comparative data sources, gathering more data, and of course being willing to change your mind.
“Data is just information – the actions we take based on the data have the real impact”
5. MADHURA CHAKRABARTI – Upskilling HR in People Analytics
When I speak to HR leaders about people analytics one of the most common challenges I hear is that of how to enable the wider HR function and particularly HR business partners. This article by Madhura Chakrabarti, which draws on her research at Bersin by Deloitte, covers this critical area and clearly sets out the importance of improving the data literacy of HR professionals. As Madhura describes (and as illustrated in Figure 2 below), the companies that develop advanced and sustainable capability in people analytics are those that focus on creating a culture of data-based decision making beyond that of the people analytics team itself.
6. KEITH MCNULTY - Beware of 'storytelling' in data and analytics
Like Amit Mohindra, who in the article at #2 warns that “storytelling can often end up becoming an editorial rather than an objective analysis”, Keith McNulty also urges caution in the use of ‘storytelling’ with data and analytics. He outlines ‘three key fails’ of storytelling in an analytics context: i) tying the analysis to an organisational objective instead of a question, ii) building a narrative before the results are completed and validated, and iii) prioritising the presentation of the results instead of testing their validity. Keith then goes on to describe how a research-based approach as opposed to one that focuses on ‘entertaining’ is a safer, more scientific and ultimately more sustainable approach to the thorny challenge of driving action from insight.
"Where conclusions are solid and pass scrutiny, consider the most compelling way to communicate them to stakeholders"
7. SHUJAAT AHMAD & KATIE SITTLER - Key to Catan and the War for Talent: Location, Location, Location!
Case studies help bring analytics to life and this article provides a perfect example. It describes how LinkedIn’s People Analytics team supported the business in formulating a geolocation strategy for its tech talent. Key insights covered include i) the cross-functional approach that was adopted and which saw the team work in tandem with the HRBP for Engineering, Head of Talent Acquisition and Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, ii) the focus on the 'why' and building a framework to support the 'why' and; iii) the emphasis on identifying and then answering the critical four questions that were identified for the initiative in Figure 3 below.
8. GREG NEWMAN - Using Organizational Network Analytics (ONA) to measure the impact of Leadership Development
Another case study, where Greg Newman describes how one of the world's largest FMCG companies worked with TrustSphere to harness passive ONA data in order to measure the Social Capital of the participants of its leadership development program. The results Greg outlines are significant, not least that as a direct result there was a 40% improvement in the collaboration of the teams whose leaders were involved in the program. ONA continues to be a huge area of interest for people analytics team and this case study offers a practical example of the unique insights and outcomes ONA can provide.
9. JOSH BERSIN - Diversity and Inclusion Is A Business Strategy, Not An HR Program | OLIVIER BLUM - Building an Inclusive Company in a Diverse World
In this article, Josh Bersin highlights how Schneider Electric has embraced diversity as a business strategy and in doing so shifted from a ‘one-headquarters’ Paris-centric model to one that now has three global leadership hubs in Boston, Hong Kong and Paris. As Josh outlines, the impact on business performance and growth has been significant as has the speed of the company’s digital transformation. It is an inspiring story and one where further detail is provided in Schneider Electric’s CHRO Olivier Blum’s article.
"Diversity and Inclusion is one of the most powerful business tools you have, take it seriously and you’ll see the needle move" Josh Bersin
10. ANDREW MARRITT - How to understand open-question employee feedback
As Andrew Marritt writes, most large organisations have vast amounts of employee text feedback that thus far they’ve done very little with (Figure 5 below provides some examples of the types of questions that can be answered with open-question employee text feedback). Given that this data is invariably the most valuable part of a questionnaire or survey, it is not surprising that many people analytics teams are looking to explore these potential gold mines. Andrew is one of the leading proponents of text analytics and this article describes how to code or categorise employee feedback. The section on the difference between deductive and inductive coding is particularly illuminating even for this lay writer. For those that haven’t already subscribed to Andrew’s weekly Empirical HR newsletter, I strongly recommend you do.
11. DAVE ULRICH - How Should the HR Department be Organized? Relationships Over Roles | IAN BAILIE – How to use Design Thinking in HR
"Merely changing boxes on organisation charts won’t help HR professionals work better together" Dave Ulrich
The HR function is transforming – whether it is the need to become more data driven, be more agile and ultimately increase its impact in the business. This means the HR operating model itself and the skills HR practitioners need to possess both have to adapt to this new reality. Dave Ulrich examines the former in his article with the overriding premise being that upgrades to the HR operating model should focus more on improving relationships within and outside the department as opposed to redefining roles based on organisation charts. In the second article, Ian Bailie defines design thinking and how it can be applied in the HR space particularly with regards to creating and personalising the employee experience.
"Design Thinking enables HR to think beyond the typical process and programmatic approach to service delivery and focus instead on the experience and outcomes that it is looking to drive" Ian Bailie
12. TEAMS SPECIAL
Oliver Bossert, Alena Kretzberg, and Jürgen Laartz - Unleashing the power of small, independent teams | N. Sharon Hill and Kathryn M. Bartol - Five Ways to Improve Communication in Virtual Teams | ALLISON MOSER - How to improve the gender diversity of work teams | JENNIFER ROBERTSON & DAVID CLUTTERBUCK - AI and human coaching — don’t be afraid of the bot
People Analytics is increasingly being used to understand how teams work, collaborate, perform and thrive. August saw a glut of excellent articles centred on ‘teams’. The first article from McKinsey examines how to enable small independent teams, which according to the authors are the lifeblood of a truly agile organisation (see Figure 6). The second article outlines five ways to harness technology to improve communication and collaboration within virtual teams. Then, Allison Moser provides examples of how eBay, Buzzfeed and Etsy have improved the gender diversity of their teams. Finally, Jennifer Robertsoninterviews leading team coach David Clutterbuck on the role he sees AI playing in team coaching.
PODCAST OF THE MONTH
MATT ALDER & ALISTAIR SHEPHERD – Recruiting Future Podcast: #140 – Recruiting to Build Great Teams
August was perhaps unsurprisingly a quiet month for podcasts, but you can always rely on Matt Alder’s Recruiting Future podcast to save the day. It also continues the ‘team’ theme, as Matt chats with Alistair Shepherd of Saberr (do check them out) about the collaborative nature of work, the power of predictive people analytics and why recruiting hasn’t traditionally been geared up to build great teams.
VIDEO OF THE MONTH
IAN BAILIE, GEETANJALI GAMEL, HEATHER WHITEMAN, MICHELLE DENEAU, JEREMY WELLAND, RICHARD ROSENOW & MICHAEL ARENA – What are the Challenges Facing People Analytics Today?
Many of the challenges facing people analytics are outlined in the articles I’ve selected this month. Therefore, it seems apt that my choice as video of the month features six people analytics leaders describing these and other challenges facing the space. Ian Bailie’s accompanying article is a helpful companion piece too.
A quick note about the People Analytics and Future of Work (otherwise known as PAFOW) East conference, which I am co-chairing with Al Adamsen on 4-5 October in Philadelphia. As ever, Al has lined up a veritable who’s who of speakers, a terrific agenda and a blend of learning, collaboration and networking.
If you want to see the likes of Amit Mohindra, Ian O’Keefe, Arun Chidambaram, Cassie Kozyrkov, Michelle Deneau, Alec Levenson, Charlotte Nagy, Ramesh Karpagavinayagam, Durrell Blake Robinson, Stefan Hierl, Ian Bailie, Marilyn Becker and Richard Rosenow speak then please click here and use my discount code DG200 by 14th September for a $200 discount when you book your ticket.
This article was originally published on myHRfuture on 6 September 2018: The best HR & People Analytics articles of August 2018