Analytics — The First Pass

October 7th, 2014 by Jay Shaw No comments »

Vendor AnalyticsLast year a group of executives at one of our big company clients decided to take a hard look at efficiency and outcome issues around learning.

Having to deal with a variety of use cases, end-user groups and training providers, not to mention the complications of operating in more than 50 countries and 18 languages, the executives saw their immediate task as getting on top of the data.

To this end, they put the following into effect:

  1. All courses, seminars and training events now end with a mandatory, standardized evaluation comprised of five questions, the first being the by-now-classic Net Promoter Score (“NPS” or the number of raving fans minus the number of complainers divided by the total number of responses multiplied by 100, this process yielding a number somewhere between minus and plus 100 – big positive numbers are good). The NPS question is followed by simple, sensible questions on each training program’s relevance by job role and topic, quality and effect.
  2. Individual employee progress is now measured the same way and on the same scale for all training.
  3. Costs are standardized on a per-employee basis and resolved to a base currency.
  4. Time costs are no longer only estimated by the provider, but also measured by the learning management system on a per-employee basis for training delivered online. Time taken is recorded for live and virtual events and estimated (or reported) for take-home assignments, again, all on a per-employee basis.
  5. All training is associated with a named provider, meaning a courseware-off-the-shelf, consulting or custom content vendor in the case of external training and an employee or department in the case of internally sourced training.
  6. All training is placed into one of five company-defined general topic categories.
  7. All training is sponsored by and associated with one of the company’s internal training academies (IT, product and services education, etc.).

The result after a year is that the company has a standardized report format for training, meaning company executives now have a shared language for cost vs. benefit issues, training take-up, attrition and mastery rates, lost-labor costs, unnecessary duplications, regulatory compliance vs. employee development spend, etc.

The company can also stack-rank vendors now, i.e., if the company is using three IT training vendors globally, company executives can see at a glance which vendor offers the most value for money, which vendor to drop and which vendor to squeeze on price come renewal.

All very clever but just the beginning.

The next steps will include getting a lot more sophisticated about data types and then marrying the learning data to line-of-business data.

This will be interesting.

Next Steps 2014 Chicago recap

September 24th, 2014 by Alex Poulos No comments »

Last week we were delighted to spend two days with our clients at Next Steps 2014 in Chicago. Next Steps is our annual user conference and our theme this year was innovation and business results. Innovation in terms of new technologies, tools, apps, practices, ways of thinking that shape how we work and live. New ways to take advantage of the NetDimensions Talent Suite across different functions in the organization. Business results in terms of how learning & talent management technologies and processes link to actual business metrics that are relevant to CxOs. Metrics relating to revenue contribution, cost control, change enablement, and risk management.

 

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My panel on talent analytics with Betty Mills of Centra Health, Jerry Bishop of Brigham Young University, Richard Beaumont of Omega Performance, Dan Sherman of The Nature Conservancy, and George Walker of NetDimensions.

 

» Read more: Next Steps 2014 Chicago recap

Are books for learning?

September 1st, 2014 by Jay Shaw No comments »

BooksNot an entirely silly rhetorical question — in our work world of endless data aggregation and analysis, the reading of books remains a curiously solitary and hard-to-track enterprise.

It’s easy enough to hand someone a book. It’s easy enough to require a signature acknowledging receipt and even demand answers to a compliance question or two to check headline-level comprehension.

But it’s hard to do anything with a book approaching a deep and actionable, let alone shared understanding of the content without classes and clubs — meaning that costly in-person conversations in and around the act of reading are still what makes reading, at least the extended kind, real and useful.

But for the corporate world, the idea of reading as a purely personal pursuit may be changing. Three developments — e-book readers, the advent of technology-mediated social reading and the X API (nee Tin Can) — together make books cost-efficient, communal and reportable in new ways.

e-book readers are now ubiquitous and cheap. Even general-purpose iOS and Android tablets support the e-pub standard. New services like Zola make reading a compelling group exercise (it’s very cool). Established services like Lulu let any company build its own libraries for private, on-demand distribution. The X API means that the reading of a book can be recorded by chapter and task in any competency framework a company may need.

Books Redux.

Announcing Next Steps 2014

May 4th, 2014 by Alex Poulos No comments »

Right after wrapping up Next Steps 2013, our annual user conference, we were already well into planning Next Steps 2014 (if you are curious, find out what happened at Next Steps 2013).  The overwhelmingly positive & exciting input from our clients, partners, and colleagues who attended last year’s conference in London, Chicago, or Shanghai, has reinforced our decision to keep investing in this event in terms of continued variety of what we add to the agenda, more interactivity in all our sessions, and ample opportunities for networking.

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We are very proud of what we’ve planned for next year. Here are some things to look forward to.
 
» Read more: Announcing Next Steps 2014

The End of the Annual Performance Review

April 1st, 2014 by Administrator No comments »

Ruth-Thomas-200x200Guest post by Ruth Thomas, Founder and Senior Consultant at Curo Compensation

Ruth has over 20 years of international experience in the management of compensation processes and the design of pay and benefit structures, salary progression systems, and management incentive plans. Her corporate experience includes Lloyds TSB Group, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Dow Jones Group and Credit Suisse.

If this is the end of the annual performance review what happens to pay for performance? 

An emerging theme amongst the various analyst predictions for HR trends in 2014 is the belief that the traditional annual performance management cycle is no longer fit for purpose. The forecast is that forward thinking organisations are now looking at moving from an annual evaluation-only approach to performance management that is achieved through on-going feedback and coaching designed to promote continuous development.  This is in response to a number of factors including the increasingly dynamic business environment that has emerged where business goals and strategies are changing at a rate that outpaces an annual setting and assessment of performance goals.  Similarly forced ranking or competitive calibration is generally seen as counterproductive in the drive for high performance and engagement. Organisations are also trying to consider how to engage and motivate the growing workforce population of millennials who are characterised by their need for more regular feedback and reinforcement.

So does this also mean the end of the annual compensation review as well?

I think this is unlikely; many organisations have strived to move away from the ad hoc or anniversary based review approach with its inherent problems of budget creep and limited ability for peer/market ranking.  This combined with the reality that many organisations still struggle to manage a single annual review cycle in a way that prevents it from being anything other than a challenging administrative exercise.

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A better approach is to extend the range of factors that drive effective compensation decisions, to include:

  • Individual performance will move to be assessed more regularly but still provide input into variable pay decisions annually.
  • Annual business outcomes will continue to drive variable pay outcomes, particularly at more senior levels.
  • An assessment of an employee’s talent potential and leadership capabilities should influence compensation decisions, particularly salary in order to retain and motivate high potential employees.
  • More focus on recognising those employees with critical skills or indeed business relationships and networks required to support future business strategy should influence salary decisions.
  • Fairness and equity and market competitiveness will remain overriding principals for all compensation decisions.

Presenting the data on this broader range of factors to Line Managers to enable them to make informed compensation decisions will be a challenge for many organisations that are struggling to effectively access and calibrate HR and talent data.  Now is the time to start adapting reward policies for the new post-recession landscape and preparing yourselves for the data management and analytics required to support these changes.

 

Home schooling, home college, company college

March 1st, 2014 by Jay Shaw 1 comment »

Peabody Institute Chair Hollis Robbins at Johns Hopkins University just wrote a provocative piece in The Chronicle Of Higher Education on an idea so simple and so intuitively right that it feels like it should already be in wide use. Dr. Robbins looks at the broad skill sets of multi-discipline PhDs and asks why one or some of them banded together couldn’t offer the equivalent of at least the first year of a liberal arts university education on a home schooling basis — and do so with better outcomes (and at lower cost) than the students would likely get at a good private liberal arts college or university; the idea being for the students to earn home college credits and transfer in to “formal” programs after they’ve done the first year or two with the private providers.

As you would expect from a humanities professor, the piece is balanced, subtle and eminently reasonable.

You can read the article here.

It got me thinking. The home college idea begs the question — Why couldn’t companies do the same thing? What a perk it would be for employees to be able to get, on a part-time basis, a top-flight liberal arts education through work. For companies of a certain size, hiring three or four full-time PhDs is a small cost. The professors might easily handle up to 100 company students a year. Smaller companies could band together to share costs.

Though such a program could easily be run by a corporate university, this idea is nothing like traditional corporate universities, which are generally driven by line-of-business needs and are vocational in purpose rather than about explicitly building employees’ personal capabilities.

It’s a radical and I think powerful idea. It’s kind of an anti-MOOC (though there’s nothing stopping any such program from incorporating MOOCs into the curriculum). It could also turn out to be cheaper (and a lot better) than sending an equivalent number of staff to community college.

The benefits to the business of setting up a company college might include:

  • An increase in employee engagement (and thus higher employee retention rates)
  • A reputation boost for the company in its industry and communities
  • A smarter workforce (hat tip to IBM) — let’s be honest, though humanities training does not easily translate into job-specific skill-set libraries, the general truth is clear — over the long run, better people means better business

On that last point, one of the downsides of doing what everybody else is doing is that there’s no strategic competitive advantage to be had in the process: your best outcome is to not fall behind your peers. The upside of doing something different, something like Dr. Robbins’ suggests for example, is that, if it works, you’re in blue water.

Your employer is watching

February 17th, 2014 by Jay Shaw No comments »

And listening, and applying predictive analytics at the same time.

Excellent shout-out in Marginal Revolution (a blog by a couple of award-winning economists, not rebel types) on an FT piece (gated for most of us, unfortunately) on how some employers are improving productivity by measuring employee interactions with each other (interestingly not with clients) and noting employee tone of voice in the process.

It seems talking things through with your peers really does make things better. It also turns out that a sustained spike in dulcet tones while mixing it up on break is in fact highly correlated with productivity improvement.

Employers take note: this kind of experiment is the tip of the iceberg and only goes to prove the old saw, “What get measured gets improved.”

Read it here.

A spoonful of sugar . . .

February 15th, 2014 by Jay Shaw No comments »

A nice note on how both casual and formal recognition, as long as it’s sincere and relevant, drives group and individual performance, loyalty and engagement:

Mooconomics

February 12th, 2014 by Jay Shaw No comments »

An excellent post from John Cochrane (The Grumpy Economist) on what works about online learning.

Read it here.

The flipped classroom discussion is particularly good and has implications for corporate training strategies.

Worth a look.

 

Take no prisoners HR

January 23rd, 2014 by Jay Shaw No comments »

The Harvard Business Review just published an article on human resource practices at Netflix.

You can find the article here.

It’s not for the faint of heart. The key question? Which members of your team, if they got offers somewhere else, would you fight to keep? Okay now, let’s talk about everybody else on your team — if you wouldn’t fight to keep them, why are they still here?

The article includes a slideshare presentation. It’s worth reading.