Who, Not What: Predicting Critical Hires with Data-Driven Talent Management By Frank Costanzo

  By Anonymous  |    Posted on Tuesday May 25, 2016 at 07:03:34 PM

Category: Expert Advice



“The most important decisions that business people make are not what decisions, but who decisions.”

Jim Collins, Author of Good to Great

Over the past two years, we have had the unique experience associated with introducing and educating many corporations regarding the power of People Analytics. One of the most basic principles that we encourage as we introduce People Analytics to Talent Management professionals is to first determine the big questions to be answered and then deploy People Analytics to strategically analyze your data to arrive at meaningful answers which support the business objectives and strategies of your organization. 

I am sure that many have observed the downfall of the division of a company or even a complete failure of a company caused by the application of a weak or inconsistent method for selecting a leader and in some cases the team that surrounds the leader. Yes, it can take some time for the newly hired leader to have a significant negative effect but it usually shows up when the competition heats up or a downturn in the economy causes increased financial pressure. Of course, we also see the opposite situation where a leader is hired correctly and that has a rapid positive effect on the company.

It has been well documented that one of the fastest ways to improve a company’s performance is to improve the talent of leadership and the greater workforce. 

As Geoff Smart and Randy Street outline in their book titled “Who: The Method for Hiring”, a critical ingredient in the best practice tool kit for hiring is a scorecard. Smart and Street describe a scorecard as “a document that describes exactly what you want a person to accomplish in the role. It is not a job description, but rather a list of outcomes and competencies that define a job well done.”  Street and Smart go on to provide more detail and state that “Scorecards describe the mission for the position, outcomes that must be accomplished and competencies that fit with both the culture of the company and the role.” Think of the scorecard as a summary of what needs to be accomplished and how it will be accomplished.

I recently attended an HCI conference in Boston and one of the most informative key note speakers referenced his use of a scorecard when hiring. As this speaker explained his use of the hiring scorecard I realized that it is critical for scorecards to support the analysis of the changing needs of a job by including online predictive analytics capabilities combined with a valid and reliable competency library as part of the scorecard process. 

Competencies: Ensuring a Behavioral Fit

Street and Smart describe the importance of well-defined competencies within a scorecard and state that “Competencies define how you expect a new hire to operate in the fulfillment of the new job and the achievement of the outcomes.”

We have discovered that the greatest challenge for many corporations is how to determine which competencies to select for each position? The problem is that many companies are simply handed a list of competencies to consider without fully understanding or agreeing upon the meaning and definition for each competency. We have found that significant confusion can result when each individual hiring managers develops their own list of competencies and their own descriptions for the observable behaviors for each. One of the most frequent mistakes is that hiring managers confuse behavioral competencies with skills. The second mistake is creating a list of competencies with descriptions of behaviors which are not consistently measurable. 

Ensuring a Cultural Fit

In addition to ensuring a behavioral fit to the position it is critical to confirm that a cultural fir exists as well. By translating your culture and values into a series of competencies that matter for your organization, you can avoid making the mistake of not evaluating candidates for the cultural fits that are absolutely crucial to your enterprise. 

Smart and Street conducted in-depth research into the consequences of overlooking cultural fit a “fully one in three of the billionaires and CEO’s told us not evaluating cultural fit was one of their biggest reasons for hiring mistakes.”

Ensure Alignment 

We recommend that all job profiles and scorecard be road-tested through a comparison with the business plan and scorecards of the people who will interface with the role. This helps to ensure that there is consistency and alignment.  This can best be accomplished with a predictive analytics platform that is calibrated with a proven, valid and reliable competency library. Caliper Corporation offers such a combination.

Pulling it all together

Once a scorecard is developed for each critical position it can be used for all aspects of hiring from sourcing into all stages of interviewing as well as onboarding. Beyond better hiring and retention, scorecards combined with People Analytics and scientifically valid competencies can help to solve even more complex, team-based problems including:

Rapidly assessing and analyzing hundreds of candidates for an entry level position and predicting the potential fit for future positions.

Career path and bench strength analysis for existing teams.

Comparison of a recently promoted senior leader to their new teams or predicting the fit of a potential manager with various teams.

Identification of high-potential candidates for specialized emerging leader programs.

Analysis and development of precise onboarding programs based on results of People Analytics analysis.

Assembling innovation teams with a proper mix of not only strategically focused individuals but also those that can facilitate, implement, and execute.

Mining existing talent pools for people that can fit a wide range of positions – People Analytics plays a critical role, by allowing managers to compare individuals with a wide range of future positions, and predict the potential for success.

As Herb Greenberg, Caliper’s founder frequently stated “Success results from having the right person in the right position at the right time with the right skills and the correct behavioral competencies.

I recommend that you check out Smart and Street’s book “Who: The Method for Hiring”. Add to their solid scorecard framework by including a predictive analytics platform and a proven measurable competency library as a starting point for predicting the potential success of critical hires.


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