The HR World is Moving Toward Data-Based Decisions

The HR World is Moving Toward Data-Based Decisions

Authored By: HR Performance on 6/1/2018

Why our HR Intuition is No Longer Enough

Like so many other areas of an organization, HR has historically relied on intuition to make decisions. However, in today’s society it’s becoming increasingly difficult to have accurate HR intuition. That is due, in large part, to the simultaneous changes in technology, the workforce, and the competitive landscape. By the time our HR intuition has had time to fine-tune itself to today’s environment, today’s environment will be long gone! 

While our HR intuition still plays an important role, we can no longer rely solely on it. We need to embrace the move toward data-based decisions. Data will help complement our HR intuition as we navigate these new times.

How to Hire the Very Best Sales People

Josh Bersin provides a case study that illustrates the need to review data. For example, a financial institution that had hundreds of sales people historically used their collective HR intuition for hiring - which told them that in order to get the best sales people they needed to go to the best universities and get the students with the best GPAs. But even with that fairly-uniform process they lacked consistent success in the results their sales team achieved. 

This financial institution began to look at the data of their top performers. They found that their top sales people had three things in common: 1) their resumes had no typos; 2) they had success selling real estate or cars; and 2) they had a degree of some sort. Neither the name of the university nor the GPA seemed to make a difference. They changed their hiring practices, based on these new findings, and sales increased by $4,000,000 within six months. It was a raging success.

These insights were only possible because the organization began to look at data. Even if the HR team had the ability to intuitively glean these three commonalities, without data they never would have been able to convince management to change hiring practices to such an unproven model. However, data changed everything.

One of the Tools of the Trade: Visualization

There are many tools that can help you in your journey to data-based decisions. A visualization tool is one such resource.  Some analytics tools, like IBM’s SPSS, are powerful but can be very complex. Visualization tools, on the other hand, are perfect for someone who isn’t formally trained in statistics and data analysis. These tools can help both the expert and the beginner get important insights.

A visualization tool gives you a way to take raw data and create intuitive images and charts which show how different data points affect each other. By sorting and playing with different variables, these interactive tools allow users to gather insights and then present them in a clear way. With actionable intelligence, visual graphs can help quickly tell the story to other leaders in the organization.

Watch the video at the top of this page to get a feel for how these tools function. You can also spend a few minutes watching David McCandless’ TED talk to see data visualization in action. At one point, David describes the process of visualizing information as “a form of knowledge compression.” He explains, “It’s a way of squeezing an enormous amount of information and understanding into a small place. And, once you’ve curated that data…you can do cool stuff.” (If you’ve ever wondered about the societal effect of killer-wasp induced fears, David has something to share with you!)

Data will become increasingly important as time goes on. Your competitors will use (or perhaps already are using­) it to make HR decisions. If you don’t counter them with your own insights, they will slowly but surely begin to take your business and talent. As you and the rest of the world begin to move toward data-based decisions, keep one thing in mind…it’s a good thing.


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