Building a People Analytics Team With Amit Mohindra

By Perceptyx - March 05, 2020

At last year’s Perceptyx Innovations Conference, Amit Mohindra, founder of People Analytics Success, addressed the topic of building a people analytics team. Drawing on his HR and people analytics experience at the World Bank, Lehmann Brothers, Lucent Technologies, IBM, Goldman Sachs, McKesson, Apple, and in his own company, Mohindra traced the development of people analytics as a new HR function and offered his observations about the most important factors in building a people analytics team and practice. This article summarizes his presentation; if you’d rather watch than read, click on the video below.

The Big Picture

Mohindra’s observations are drawn from more than two decades of experience:

  1. This is the age of analytics; data will become increasingly important in driving decisions.
  2. People analytics practitioners are in the business of change.
  3. The head of HR must be totally invested in the people analytics function.
  4. Building a solid people analytics practice is all about the team—having the right people, nurturing them, and making them successful.
  5. If you don’t have a good plan for what you want to achieve with people analytics, you’ll be lost.
  6. The last mile of the journey is the most difficult—but also the most important. The entire purpose of people analytics is to provide data for making better decisions; without action on those decisions, the entire exercise is pointless.

Successful people analytics practice relies on a good team—and the right listening strategy. Determine the right strategy for your company with our free guide, Continuous Listening: Developing the Right Strategy for Your Organization.

The People Analytics Team: Agents of Change

The people analytics team is in the business of driving and sustaining change. In an era where the value of many businesses is determined more by their human capital rather than physical assets, people analytics helps quantify the value of human capital—and increase and sustain that value.

People analytics practice is led by strategy, but driven by data. (Tweet this!) It encompasses business strategy, workforce strategy, and HR strategy, as well as the interplay between each. It is also outcome-oriented: the various strategies lead to outcomes in terms of what employees feel, which determines what employees do in their jobs. Employee behavior leads to customer and operational outcomes, and ultimately, financial outcomes. People analytics encompasses all of these strategies and outcomes.

Strategies and outcomes are not static; they must change in response to the changing business environment. As the team in charge of monitoring human capital—many organizations’ most valuable asset—the people analytics team plays the central role in change leadership.

Features Of A Successful People Analytics Team

People analytics is a new function in HR, so many HR leaders are unsure of what a people analytics team does, who leads the team, and whether the team takes over existing functions or manages new ones. A successful practice relies on more than managing data; the team also works across the organization, planning and communicating with multiple stakeholders to drive change. As a result, the team needs a wide variety of skills:

  • Consulting
  • Statistics
  • Storytelling
  • Coding
  • Technology
  • HR experience
  • Data management

High-performing people analytics teams, in addition to including members with the skills above, have the following characteristics:

  • Teams tend to be small, at least initially. A small team makes it easier to focus on the right things, and promotes complete transparency.
  • Team members have complementary skills.
  • The team has a culture of accountability, transparency, and coordination.
  • Team members are invested in one another’s success.
  • The people analytics manager or leader provides task, relational, and environmental support.

Incorporating these skills and characteristics in the organization’s office of people analytics ensures that the team will be as adept in working with stakeholders as it is in analyzing data—crucial for change leadership.

The Role Of The People Analytics Manager

Within the team, the people analytics manager is responsible for making decisions. Should the data be monitored further, or is it time to take action? Is the needed leadership action internal to the team, or external, managing the team’s relationship to the rest of the organization?

Internal leadership actions are focused on tasks and relationships. Actions related to tasks include:

  • Goal focusing
  • Structuring for results
  • Facilitating decision making
  • Training
  • Maintaining standards

Leadership actions focused on relationships include:

  • Coaching
  • Collaborating
  • Managing conflict
  • Building commitment
  • Satisfying needs
  • Modeling principles

External leadership actions are just as important to the success of the people analytics function. They include:

  • Networking
  • Advocating
  • Negotiating support
  • Buffering
  • Assessing
  • Sharing information

All of these leadership actions are critical for team effectiveness, performance, and development. In the organization’s chain of command, the people analytics manager should report directly to the CHRO, to maintain HR leadership’s buy-in to the function and promote visibility of the team’s work and progress.

Designing A Roadmap For The People Analytics Function

A plan for developing your people analytics function is crucial for managing expectations. Over time, expectations will increase; if they aren’t managed, the time and resources devoted to analytics will be seen as ineffective.

The roadmap should include the pillars of practice to be implemented in successive years or quarters, the desired outcomes, and the sequence of implementation. This type of plan will get everyone in the organization on the same page in regard to expectations—as well as provide a sense of direction to the people analytics team.

An “environmental scan” assessing the opportunities, challenges, and considerations in developing the people analytics function should be shared with stakeholders. This will put the possibilities into perspective and secure buy-in throughout the organization, by illustrating how the practice can provide value to each of the various stakeholders.

Complete The Journey By Taking Action

The entire purpose of people analytics is to enable more effective decision-making. Getting the data and analysis is only the beginning of the work; HR then has to go to work to implement decisions and changes. The last mile of the journey is where cultural change must occur, making it the most difficult part of the process—but also the ultimate goal and the reason for the entire exercise. In the end, there’s no reason to collect and analyze data unless the insights you gain are put to use to improve the organization.

Want to develop a people analytics practice in your organization?

At Perceptyx, helping companies develop a robust people analytics practice that drives organizations forward is our goal. With custom surveys paired to our people analytics platform and expertise in all aspects of survey design, strategy, and communication, we can help you manage your most important asset—your human capital. Get in touch and let us show you how.

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