Data is everywhere! Twenty years ago, people would say "you’re living in the information age.” With technology advancements, pieces of data are thrown at us more than ever. Your “likes” on social media are tracked and stored in a “data lake” somewhere so some sophisticated algorithm can determine what ads appear on the side bar in your internet browser. You can install a device in your car to monitor your driving habits, such as your speed and how hard you hit your brakes. Then, the insurance company can use this data to adjust your insurance rate. And, if you're like me, you probably have considered buying a fitness tracker to monitor your daily steps, heart rate, and sleep patterns to help you reach your health goals. With or without your consensus (and awareness), we are in an era where data is being created and used constantly.
If data can help companies market products based on your interests, give you reasonable car insurance rates, and motivate you to live healthier, wouldn’t it be cool if data could help you find the right people to work with you? What if the data could help you optimize your talent pool? It can!
Data, regardless of size, format, and quality, has been used for centuries to aid in all kinds of decisions, from whom you’re going to hire to babysit your kids on date night, to personnel selection in the pre-employment phase, to mapping out talent management strategies and increasing employment engagement. Data points in the hiring and talent management process include:
- Ratings from a phone interview
- Responses to online personality assessments, either for pre-employment screening or leadership development
- Performance metrics, like scrape rate, in manufacturing settings
- Average handling time in call centers
To get the most out of your data, we have compiled five steps to make better data-driven decisions:
1. Identify the Right Data
2. Collect Data Wisely
3. Analyze Data Responsibly
4. Interpret Results with Visual Aids
5. Cross-validate, Cross-validate, Cross-validate!
You’ve gotten your results and developed a new strategy for making data-driven decisions, but your strategy should be adaptable. Change is constant. What worked yesterday and today might not work tomorrow. What you find in one set of data might not generalize to another job, position, or under new leadership. Jobs, positions, organizations, industries, and economy will change over time. Keep in mind that you’ll want to devote a little time to reevaluate and restart the data analysis cycle with any organizational changes.
Remember: to be a savvy user of today’s abundant data, you still need to exercise your judgment. Statistics and data are double-edged swords that can steer you in the direction of higher productivity and profitability, or could dangerously mislead you if executed with little care. Data-driven decisions are fortified when used with assessments and behavioral based interviews to evaluate things like safety, culture fit, and motivational fit.