Sustainable People Analytics – See it. Own it. Live it.


In this blog we’ll introduce a change management approach that can help you get there, and delve into 3 components:

  1. See It
  2. Own It
  3. Live It.

These elements are required to build a successful and sustainable approach to people analytics and data-driven decision making.

This is an excerpt from our Playbook 4 – A Practical Guide to Becoming Data-Driven.

Becoming data-driven is not a one-off project – it’s about building a new way of approaching HR – one which is sustainable that builds and improves over time.

This means having clarity of purpose, building adoption and motivation for the future state, demonstrating leadership support around a concrete plan for implementation, and most importantly, having clearly defined and achievable criteria for success.

While there are many models for managing change, you should use the one you are most comfortable and proficient with – if you don’t have one at your fingertips, this can serve as a guide:

Component 1: See it

Let’s take a look at the first component of this model – See it. This is about creating the Case for Change and bringing onside Committed Leadership. These are essential ingredients to your success.

See It: Case For Change

  • You will want to communicate the urgency of your data-driven HR projects – and how they tie to delivering hard business results for your LoB clients.
  • Using your outputs from Playbook 3 – specifically Step 4 (Estimate & Articulate Value of Each Use Case) and Step 5 (Assess & Map Use Cases to a Decision-Making Framework to Help You Prioritize), you should meet with key people from your Line of Business, brief them on your work and seek their input.
  • You will have to define who these “key people” from your Line of Business should be – it will be different in every organization but should probably include the VP or executive who leads that business unit.
  • You should look for support from the Head of HR, the Head of HR Business Partners, or the internal HR Champion for data-driven HR.
  • You will need to convince your Line of Business clients that these projects are both aligned with their strategic and operational goals, and juicy from a benefits perspective.

See It: Committed Leadership

  • First, you should look for the direct support of any leader in the business who has articulated the need for evidence-based or data-driven decision-making – whether this be your CEO, COO or CFO, the head of a business unit, or anyone else who has spoken up. This might be in the form of a strategic imperative in your 3 year plan like “become data-driven” or a quote from the CFO from last month’s all-staff meeting when she said “we need to improve overall productivity to ensure we stay competitive in our market”.
  • Be creative, look for ways to build upon things already understood in your organization, and make a direct link to how data-driven HR can help deliver tangible results.
  • Then, your goal is to work with your Line of Business client(s) to affirm that data-driven HR, and in particular, the projects which you have identified (3 x Do. 2 x Help. 1 x Fix) are important and need to be addressed. Once you are aligned, you need to ask for their help in selling these projects, in clearing hurdles, in engaging in reviews and status meetings, and in holding you and others accountable for project execution. Yes, it’s an ask for help – and it’s not only okay, it’s critical.
  • Many leaders think it is good enough to be simply knowledgeable and vocalize their “support” for an initiative, but my experience tells me differently. Oftentimes, you need to be very specific and ask them to do something specific – outline the behavior you are looking for them to demonstrate and the messages you’d like them to share.

Component 2: Own it

As we continue our look at the ways we can make data-driven HR a sustainable capability – one that is ongoing and evolving. Let’s take a look at component 2 of our change management approach: Owing it. Here we look at how to get at what really matters to your stakeholders and the importance of building out a concrete plan.

Own It: Clear What’s in it for Me?

  • The concept of “what’s in it for me” really translates into motivation. What naturally motivates your colleagues and clients and how will your data-driven HR projects help them?
  • Building upon the Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose model from Daniel Pink’s book Drive:
  • Autonomy – how can data-driven HR help your clients increase the level of control they have in their work, or in accomplishing their goals? How can this initiative help them be more self-sufficient and independent?
  • How can data-driven HR give your clients the ability to be better at what they do – and become more successful?
  • What is the link between smarter hiring decisions, retaining key talent, better people programs, and your overall purpose as an organization – or Line of Business? How will this project help you accomplish this purpose?
  • Thank goodness you identified your Customers, what’s important to them and their requirements in Step 1 of Playbook 3!!! You’re welcome 🙂 and you will now be prepared to hit all of their hot buttons in the attempt to get them highly engaged.
  • You may need to repeat this exercise for a few different audiences or individuals to ensure data-driven HR sticks.
  • Be aware and be ready to diplomatically overcome possible bumps along the way. For example:
  • The head of Talent Acquisition will be critical in supplying you with recruitment data, yet possibly concerned about exposing recruiter productivity, success rates and candidate pipeline blockages
  • Your HRIS Analyst who will be critical in supplying you other data, but has 15 other projects on the go with your data extract being last in the list
  • Your Line of Business Hiring Managers who have long complained they aren’t well equipped or supported in the recruitment process, might fear the data you’ll present will expose their lack of proficiency.
  • You’ll need to answer these questions for each audience, and keep eyes and ears wide open for any barriers. Focus on how they will see a benefit – the what’s in it for me.

Own It: Concrete Plan

When you have a concrete and credible plan for implementation, you will be taken seriously – and have a plan of action in getting data-driven HR implemented and part of the fabric.

The plan shouldn’t be a hundred-activity project plan that might be developed by a high-priced consultant – but it should clearly lay out:

  • The steps and tasks which need to be accomplished over the short term – for this case, let’s flesh out a 6 month view – with the understanding that as this six month phase is being completed, you will have to develop another plan for the next phase
  • The objectives, goals and/or outputs of the 6 month phase, and of the steps to get the phase completed
  • For each step, define the effort you will need to invest to complete the step, the length of time it will take and who will work on that specific task (i.e., Pat, 6 days of effort, between January 1 and January 31)

Finally, find your key stakeholders and gain their input and support. Ensure you’ve got access to the appropriate resources to get your project phase completed – otherwise you’ll need to gain more alignment, and possibly rescope.

Don’t start without a plan which has the support of your Champion(s) and key clients.

Component 3: Live it

Lastly we look at the 3rd component of our change management approach: Live It. Here we look at the tools required to continually execute on your analytics plan. We also look at the important steps of measuring and reinforcing success so that the momentum is not lost. We offer an example of calculating ROI from one of our clients.

Live It: Tools in Place

Part of developing your plan will be to understand and define the requirements for the tools, resources and support mechanisms which need to be in place for implementation to be a success.

“Tools” which might be considered:

  • Communications and Training Plans
  • Briefing, working or training sessions to introduce and instruct impacted employees on what data-driven HR should mean to them
  • These 4 Playbooks
  • Cheat sheets on the new reports, analytics, data points and metrics they will start to see
  • Interpretations and instructions on thresholds and triggers – and how to respond
  • Access to the reporting and analytical tools/platform
  • Checklists, processes or standard approaches for sharing insights, obtaining input and contextual understanding
  • Checklists, processes or standard approaches to driving a decision, implementing change and tracking benefits

Live It: Reinforcement

This final component to this simple change management methodology is Reinforcement.

Reinforcement should be extended to include defining success criteria, measuring results, harvesting benefits, and celebrating success.

While the art form of reinforcement will be unique for you, your business and clients, there are five fundamentals you shouldn’t forget.

  1. Defining success criteria should not be done in a vacuum – you must engage stakeholders (senior level and the front-lines) in defining a jointly agreed picture of success.
  2. At the individual and team level, the recipient of reinforcement and recognition has a personal and preferred style – use the approach which will elicit the best response to your recognition.
  3. Reinforcement is about managing performance and ensuring you are accomplishing the goals you set out to accomplish. This might mean a course correction – a rescoping activity – or a redefinition of what is achievable. Just be timely, honest and upfront with your governance committee (See Playbook 3).
  4. Remarkably, “Business Case Realization” is incredibly easy to ignore – in fact, we are often systematically forced to move onto the next activity before we have captured results – and metaphorically “banked the winnings”. You must try and avoid this pitfall at all costs:
    1. Remember, the only reason why you’ve been trusted to invest in data-driven HR is to chase juicy business outcomes.
    2. You’ve sold this initiative on a business case – so you must spend some time quantifying and counting your accomplishments and success – and sharing that with those that matter.
    3. Simply determine the ROI of your initiative
      1. On one side of the ROI equation you will articulate the “New Value” you have created through this initiative.
      2. On the other side of the equation, articulate the Cost of the initiative (days effort in working this project can be converted to a daily internal loaded cost rate). You will use this as your denominator.
      3. Subtract the Cost from the New Value and call the result your “Net New Value” – use this as your numerator.
      4. Divide the Net New Value by Cost and multiply by 100.
      5. You now have your Return on Investment for this data-driven HR project.

ROI Calculation – Example

  • Here’s an example from a technology client of ours at PeopleInsight:
    • The turnover of one specific Key Technical Role decreased by 25% in the first year after implementing analytics tools which gave managers deep visibility into their turnover – enabling them to segment on-the-fly.
    • The VPHR directly attributed the impacts to having increased visibility.
    • This resulted in a cost avoidance of approximately $750k for this year.
    • The cost of investment was less than $25k.
    • The Net New Value is $750k-$25k = $725k
    • The ROI of this investment in data-driven HR was:
      • ($725k divided by $25k) x 100 = 2,900%
      • Yes, 2,900% 🙂

And don’t forget to celebrate your Success – however that looks in your organization. Schedule a demo today.