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Graphs or Gut Instinct? How Research Can Improve Your Talent Pool

by Alison Tubay on

Most of our clients understand the pain and suffering associated with a bad hire – it’s why they invest in pre-employment assessments. According to Fast Company and the U.S. Department of Labor, the estimated cost of making the wrong choice can cost upwards of $50,000 per candidate, or at least 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings. Unfortunately, it often takes a while to identify hiring mistakes and wins, and apply the lessons learned to improve talent decisions moving forward. Nonetheless, we see this as a critical and best-practice step in our assessment work, and it is where research and information-gathering take center stage. How can a company truly improve if they don’t have a point of reference from the past? Utilizing data is crucial when it comes to a company’s ability to recognize and report back on the effectiveness of talent decisions, track results, and make future adjustments to benefit both the employee and business as a whole. Although this may not seem like a top priority in your hiring process, we have found it to be an effective means of helping our clients assess and develop world-class leaders; it affords them the opportunity to get a birds-eye view of their talent pool and identify trends to inform their strategy. We find encouraging clients to think beyond today’s hiring decision and survey the landscape of talent threats and possibilities helps them add greater value to their talent initiatives.

Case Study: Maximizing Acquisition Through Analysis

One of our largest assessment clients has been engaged in ongoing talent research with us for more than a decade. As they acquire new businesses (a key part of their growth strategy), we often assess leaders to help them understand the talent they are inheriting. Having a robust and long-established database of leaders we’ve assessed for their legacy businesses provides a meaningful point of comparison, and allows them to tailor the integration process to address key differences between the merging organizations. We practice what we preach by conducting rolling validation research to make sure our assessment process is accurate and predictive of future performance and advancement; we also create annual account reviews for many of our clients to paint a picture of what we have learned about their organization over the course of the year. By breaking down and analyzing our data, we can depict trends in job fit, promotability, and demographic traits of assessed candidates to shed light on a company’s talent. This research can then be used by the company to adjust in the upcoming year. For example, leaders can make more of a conscious effort to promote diversity in their workforce, or put in place selection practices to attract high potential leaders. Additionally, if they notice that employees are consistently scoring lower in a specific aspect of their leadership (e.g., standing firm in their decisions, building relationships across the business, adapting to changing priorities), the company can offer additional training opportunities to bolster support in that area.

Bolster Perception with Proof

Although it may appear time-consuming on the front end, having statistical evidence to support your reasoning is now almost a necessity for any company making hiring decisions. Not only can it provide legal defensibility, but it is also reassuring to know that you can rely on factual data, rather than intuition alone, to determine whether a candidate is the right fit. If you aren’t utilizing research or getting the most from your talent data, take some time and ask yourself why. Are you feeling confident in your decisions? Do you want to make sure you are investing resources in the right candidates? If so, how can you make research work for you?

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