A few thoughts on using data without dehumanizing

As we continue our look into applying data to human performance, you've probably asked yourself one (or all) of the following:

  1. “Is there proof that this works?”
  2. “How do I identify where to start?”
  3. "How do I apply the data to the human factor?”

As we address these three issues, realize that many will feel as if this process is dehumanizing. I would argue the exact opposite. People are not statistics alone; that is why the data is so critical – to define each person’s uniqueness.  That concept is supported with a four-year study conducted under strict university guidelines of the University of Chester and Westminster Theological Centre (WTC) in the United Kingdom. The personal formation study provided irrefutable results.

Benjamin Filip, a former colleague who holds a Master’s Degree in Statistical Analysis, independently validated the study results. The study illustrates an unusually high statistical improvement in human factor elements necessary for success. Those individuals who completed the Personal Formations process were able to identify their strengths and weakness, allowing them to define their roles and the cultural appropriateness of their work or profession.

Consider the following:

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As dramatic as these statistics are, they are not nearly as significant as the impact on the individual personally. Succeeding in your station of life is important, but an individual’s sense of self and personal direction is essential to contributing to a team, and being able to celebrate and embrace a peer’s knowledge, creativity, value, and success.

This shows that using data does more to enhance a person’s self-image than it “de-humanizes” them. It becomes apparent to them. It gives them an idea of their own abilities that they may not have been aware of before.

This kind of self-awareness is vital to success in any industry. It’s a matter of confidence, self-worth, and knowing oneself. Once people are given an idea of their lifetime and cultural abilities, they become comfortable in those abilities and are more inclined to succeed.

(Interested in seeing more? Get the free Personal Formation study.)

The importance of engaged employees -- a testimonial

10170578_s Human behavior, while generally predictable (with good human data,) cannot be insured. That is why human factor science is so critical to your organization's success. Every employee must be committed to your company’s agenda, goals, mission and vision.  To start the process properly you must begin with your job ads; the way you advertise, source, recruit, and hire new talent. Just as an employer wants to attract, retain and develop the best talent possible; employees want to work for the best company available. The job ad is one of the first indicators of a company’s organizational culture. If the job description and ad is boring, bland and uninspired, guess what kind of talent do you think you’re going to attract?

Unfortunately most of us have worked for more bad companies and leaders than good ones. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witness employees quit either during training or immediately afterwards because they felt the company misled them during the interview process. The job, the employees, and culture were totally different than the opportunity that was sold in the screening process.

It’s not hard for new employees to get a feel for the culture. The behavior of your current employees, the type of welcome they receive, the technology that you use and the essential job duties, all indicate the type of company you are and if your employees are excited to work for you. Disengaged employees are like bloodthirsty zombies, and they can suck the life’s blood right out of your new employees.

Finally, it’s important to remember that every communication, correspondence and press release is a reflection of your corporate culture. Your DNA comes through on your digital footprints and external communications.  So be careful how you brand yourself. Employees source online for great employers just like employers source for great employees. Potential hires use social media, they look at the “about us” corporate pages, and they pay attention to the job board descriptions. Be aware of ways to you engage current and new talent in all phases of your organizations, including community events and volunteer work.

Consider that most employees would love to work for companies like Google, Microsoft or Starbucks. But why? It’s because these companies have reputations for taking care of their people; both internally and externally. They seem to really care about their corporate reputation.  And they are socially aware, that means they use social networks and give back the community.

They get it, smart employers know that by treating employees well it increases employee engagement, and that increases the chances of organizational success.

How can data help build a strong and growing business?

Fundamentally, any business must have three important things in place in order to be successful. They are:

  1. A business plan
  2. A financial plan
  3. A “people” plan

Of these three fundamentals, the one that is widely overlooked or underutilized is the people plan.

Most businesses build their companies by hiring competencies, often overlooking the Human (“H”) Factor data. The reality is that we must view the full human picture, not just a person’s skill sets. Hiring and developing the right people, who have the appropriate skill sets, are compatible with the corporate culture and will perform their function without stress is not nearly as hard as it may seem.

The heart of the matter is that merely hiring the right people is not enough. They must be kept on the right path, and their abilities maximized for the company to benefit. The following diagram will be used to help us remember the importance of not only hiring the right person but the value in the secondary steps, which must be individualized to help managers and employees attain their potential. Only then will they position themselves to impact corporate productivity, performance and profitability.

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America’s most successful companies have found that an investment in data research and analysis yields significant returns. This is a huge advantage afforded large companies over medium and small organizations. Data directs them toward bottom-line results that cannot be obtained any other way to identify, develop and retain clients. Once acquired, the data creates efficiencies and opportunities for growth and development of their business.

The challenge for most organizations is acquiring the right data and applying the gained information in the proper context. What most organizations worldwide have failed to do at this point is to use the same types of research and analysis -- already used on their business and financial plans -- and apply them to the human factor.

We must realize that our job is not just to accumulate data about employees’ abilities, but rather to make sure we are gathering the right data and applying it correctly. In fact, many organizations do not know what they need to know.

Why? Because there is more data out there than they need. There are tens of thousands of validated assessments available for use. You must be astute enough to know which data mining tool will give you the information appropriate for your corporate culture, not just information for a seminar or the personnel file to justify the hire.