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:



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.)

Using Marketing 101 to build a team of quality employees

stockvault-pen-on-diagram103904 Because of today’s fierce marketplace competition, marketers are always looking for ways to build and enhance a customer base, deepen customer loyalty, and improve user experience. Marketers’ extensive use of data has paved the way to create a user experience that treats customers in ways that they want to be treated.

Guess what? Employees are individuals, just like customers.

CMOs from large organizations have known for a long time that data tells a story and provides answers you cannot get anyplace else. In turn, marketers use split tests, multivariate tests and more to make sure the information they seek is telling them what they need to know.

Let's think about marketers’ process to see if it provides insight about how we might approach dealing with the human factor. The first step a marketer considers is developing a “Buyer Persona.” In other words, asking, “What is my target audience?” and, “Who will want to purchase my product or service?”  This can be compared to benchmarking a position. Investment, time and research are important to gathering elements that are key to understanding the buyer.

Some of these key elements include:

  • Buyer demographics
  • Problems buyers face (understanding their pain)
  • Buyer priorities and values
  • Buyer habits and characteristics
  • Buyer psychographics

Marketers know that when they have this information they have a foundation for building an argument supporting their product and/or service. Most marketers will not begin a full-scale strategy trying to meet market needs until they have this data. Wise marketers learn what it takes to acquire, build repeated use, and maintain a customer BEFORE they begin a campaign.

When hiring, most organizations try their best to minimize costs and invest as little as possible, while still believing they can find the right person for the right position without any data to support their search.

Maintaining a customer is about 20% of the cost that it takes to find a new one. Should we not apply the same mentality to hiring and retaining quality employees?

Without data, you cannot hire, manage and retain qualified professionals

Several years ago, I conducted and managed a survey that collected data from more than 1,600 organizations worldwide (80% were U.S. based). Not surprisingly, six of the respondent organization’s eight greatest concerns were human (“H”) factor issues, and how those issues impacted their company’s ability to succeed and profit. There is one consistent factor within each of the six issues that led to dysfunction, inefficiencies, lack of performance and departmental synergy. It is how people viewed themselves and those with whom they worked.

With that single issue in mind, consider the following statistics. As we progress through this journey on these pages, you will see the correlation and how these statistics are a natural outgrowth of this core issue.

  • 45% of employees dislike their work and feel it is unrewarding (USA Today – January 2010)
  • 32% of employees are actively looking and 74% would consider a change in positions if offered the opportunity (Forbes – March 2013)
  • “53% of Recent College Grads Are Jobless or Underemployed” based on education or direction (The Atlantic – April 2012)

When leaders from virtually every industry indicate the same problem, we must reconsider the way we are approaching the “people” business of people management. Because most systems are broken.

And, with a broken system, company stability is negatively affected, because people aren't aware of how to best fix it (hint: understanding the data).  Even though relevant data is made available, most managers do not know how to mine it, apply it, and make it work to a company’s advantage.

The following chart is from the 2012 Executive Guide to Marketing Personnel, and supports how lack of people management understanding is leading to turnover and knowledge management issues in organizations of all sizes, especially large organizations that often have the data at the ready, but aren't using it properly:



As mentioned above, the system is clearly broken. However, many companies don't realize they have a fix at their fingertips -- a systematic, data-driven approach to hiring, training, developing and retaining quality talent across all divisions of a company.