How to Overcome the People Analytics Skills GapBy Ettie Holland on 29.11.2016
The people analytics skills gap is the biggest threat to progress in the sector. HR leaders must get a handle on the changing demands of a data-integrated space, or risk losing pace with competitors.
People analytics is one of the things HR is worst at, according to the Deloitte Human Capital Capability Gap. Aside from being a mouthful, the Gap report offers important insight into the state of people analytics readiness today. It turns out that we’re not very ready at all.
(Source: The Deloitte Human Capital Capability Gap report)
As HR consultant Steven Toft notes, speaking at the Tucana People Analytics Conference back in April, “There’s a lot of aspiration around HR analytics. But HR seems to be stuck in neutral”.
The problem isn’t a lack of enthusiasm. You’ve been living under a rock if you haven’t heard the people analytics hype, and everyone wants a slice of the pie. Like big data before it though, the people analytics sector is plagued by skill shortages.
People analytics is distressingly… new. Unlike other HR developments, people analytics hasn’t evolved so much as exploded onto the scene. There are no predecessors to guide us, and few people know what’s expected of them. Add the fact that people analytics insists on blurring the lines between HR and myriad other disciplines and, well, the problem’s clear.
People analytics takes skills that we don’t have, as HR professionals, because we’ve never had to have them. There’s a cross-discipline diversity called for here that leaves many of us floundering. You know what they say though. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem… so here goes.
The People Analytics Skills Gap
8 Essential Qualities and Skills For Effective People Analytics
#1 - HR Knowledge
This might seem obvious but it’s an important point. There’s a temptation to build people analytics teams by mining proven talent from other sectors. Many talented analysts have cut their teeth on Big Data, after all. Bringing in external talent should be commended (if you can find and afford it), but it shouldn’t be forgotten that people analytics is the natural domain of HR.
The most important people analytics skill is native to HR professionals: a deep understanding of HR. As we wrote in our piece on the people analytics methodology, the best results come when you ask the best questions.
#2 – Broader Business Acumen
Although HR has a critical role to play, people analytics should never be siloed in HR. As we wrote earlier this month, people analytics is useful when you use it to solve business problems. These questions are fundamentally rooted in HR, but they become powerful when they link back to the broader business. They must address business-significant problems.
#3 – Gravitas
Gravitas, or “executive presence”, is a strange and unquantifiable thing. It’s also one of the most essential people analytics skills. Gravitas is about credibility, and influence, and authority. It’s about trust.
Fundamentally it’s about earning buy-in with other senior decision-makers, so you can unlock resources and support instead of roadblocks and scepticism. Dissent in the ranks can cut your people analytics projects off before you start. Getting everyone to pull in the same direction will be critical: that’s where gravitas becomes so important.
#4 – Project Management Ability
People analytics can easily spiral, becoming unfocussed and ineffective. There’s just so much data, and many a well-intentioned people analytics team has got lost in the snowstorm. You find yourself throwing resources at a mountain of data that never yields meaningful insight; chasing your own tail.
#5 – Storytelling
Without a story, data is just data. The magic of people analytics happens when you apply the data to solve your problems, and that means weaving a meaningful narrative. Make that narrative compelling and you’re able to drive action – and that’s the true measure of success.
#6 –Understanding of Statistics & Analysis
This is the bit that puts most HR professionals off, because it’s the most obviously out-of-discipline. It plays a huge part in the people analytics skills gap, perhaps because people find the very idea of statistical analysis intimidating. It goes without saying that you can’t do people analytics without the analytics component though. Collecting data only gives you the jigsaw pieces; analysis is how you put everything together.
#7 – Tact & People Skills
Now more than ever, HR leaders must be able to effectively manage change. During the turbulent times of innovation both tact and people skills are demanded in order to manage uncertainty and drive clarity.
#8 – Passion
The importance of passion cannot be overstated. People analytics is still young, and many people are still underwhelmed. What’s really called for are people analytics advocates, whose contagious excitement will inspire and compel involvement.
Did this help you overcome your people analytics challenges? Was your problem one of the above, or is something else holding you back?
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