Cream of the Crop: How Talent Analytics Can Fill Your Leadership Gaps

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Talent analytics can position your organization for future success by helping you identify individuals who can lead the business forward.

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Cream of the Crop: How Talent Analytics Can Fill Your Leadership Gaps
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Strong leadership is essential for any business that wants to achieve lasting success. But acquiring the talent you need to guide your organization to a bright future is certainly not easy.

Research has shown:

  • 83% of employers believe it's crucial to develop leaders at all levels
  • 63% of millennials feel their leadership skills aren’t being fully developed
  • Only 14% of CEOs feel confident they have the right talent at leadership level to grow their business
  • 70% of employees in the US say they're unhappy in their jobs because of bad management

If this is an area where you have room for improvement, one activity you might want to focus on is talent analytics, which will support your efforts to nurture the leaders of tomorrow and prepare for future success.

What is talent analytics?

Emilio J. Castilla, a professor of management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, defines talent analytics as:

"A data-driven approach to improving people-related decisions for the purpose of advancing the success of not only the organization but also of individual employees."
 

It's a process that can unlock many benefits for the average company. According to Professor Castilla, employers that had effective talent analytics strategies were in the best position to reorganize and optimize their workforce in response to COVID-19. The reason for this is that these organizations had the strongest understanding of the human skills, capabilities and experience available to them.

When you have up-to-date, data-driven insights into these aspects of your workforce, you're in a stronger position to respond to challenges and maintain operations even in a rapidly changing environment.

There's no doubt - in light of the rapid technological evolution and digital transformation that has defined the 21st century so far - that employers have more opportunities than ever to benefit from the power of people data and analytics.

But it also seems clear that many companies could be making better use of this potential. Gartner research has shown that only 21% of HR leaders think their organizations are effective at using talent data to inform business decisions.

So what steps can you take to harness the power of talent analytics and position yourself for future success?

How to use talent analytics to strengthen your leadership

There are various ways you can use talent analytics to pinpoint leadership gaps within your business and to address these deficiencies by identifying potential future leaders in the workforce.

1. Be clear about the 'why'

Before embarking on a talent analytics project, it's important to have a clear idea of why you're doing it and what you want to achieve, as opposed to viewing it as a simple box-ticking exercise. As far as strengthening your leadership is concerned, focus on the questions you want to answer, the problems you need to solve and how these connect to the company's broader objectives and bottom line.

2. Profiling and baselining

It's important to know what makes an effective leader, to inform your thinking on whether these qualities are already present in your workforce, where you have opportunities to cultivate them from within and how you should approach recruitment to acquire the talent you need. It can be beneficial to create profiles of particularly successful leaders from around the world, which can help you form a baseline picture of the skills and qualities your business needs.

3. Identifying potential within teams

As well as looking outwards to take inspiration and guidance from the success of other companies, you should be focusing on the leadership potential that already exists in the workforce. Talent analytics enables you to evaluate individual performance and identify individuals who are emerging as leaders within their teams. This could be people who are already in managerial or senior roles, but it could also be junior staff or associates showing initiative and inspiring others to raise their performance.

4. Prioritize quantity and quality

The amount of data available to you and the quality of that data are both extremely important if you want to get good results from talent analytics. According to Professor Castilla, one common problem to avoid is only focusing on data that includes the phenomenon you're interested in and excluding everything else. Having access to a broad range of information and variables can help you draw the most useful conclusions, such as why certain individuals are more productive or better suited to leadership than others.

5. Take a coherent approach

For talent analytics to deliver the best outcomes and help prepare your business for future success, the HR department needs to work closely with other teams and stakeholders within the organization. It's particularly important to be on the same page as senior management and decision-makers who are responsible for setting your long-term strategy and objectives. This helps to ensure that any actions you put in place to nurture leadership potential are aligned with the company's broader mission.

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