First and foremost, I want to say that people are not numbers. Ok? Ok. Got that out of the way. I'd also like to let y'all know that I am historically *not* a numbers person. I might even say that I actively avoid numbers as much as possible. I can manage a budget. I can balance a checkbook. But if someone else wants to mess around in Excel, I'll gladly hand over the task. But alas, like I said, today's modern world and all. A girl (or guy) cannot simply bury her (his) head in the sand and pretend like the numbers don't exist. Obvi.
In my day job, I run PeopleOps at Disqus - we have around 50 employees, and a data-driven CEO. He and I get along swimmingly, but it can sometimes be tough to translate my warm fuzzy people projects into metrics-driven business initiatives. And heck, keeping the lights for all these people is no easy feat. We need systems and checklists and yes, data, to help us make good decisions. "BUT KIM! HOW DO YOU USE THIS 'DATA'? GIVE ME SOME IDEAS!" You got it, buddy.
Here are a few examples of ways my team and I use data to do our jobs better:
- Managing our office snacks program - When we first launched the program, we surveyed the team to see what they wanted. We send semi-regular surveys to assess how folks feel about our offerings so we can make changes. Being able to say that 62% of employees asked for healthier snacks is a great way to back up your decisions to supply more carrots.
- Launching new PeopleOps projects - It's one thing to rely on your gut and your boss to figure out what projects to work on. It's another to ask measured questions and present the data. We run engagement surveys twice a year, and we use the lowest-scoring categories to figure out where to focus our efforts in upcoming quarters.
- Improving our recruiting process - By using data like time-to-hire and candidate-dropout-rate (our ATS, Greenhouse, has excellent reporting built-in), along with anecdotal data from followup surveys, we were able to target specific parts of our interview process that could be tightened up. We improved the candidate experience by preparing interviewers more thoroughly and making the process move faster.
- Cleaning up internal tools - We're looking at usage data for the different tools and systems we use internally, looking at what we're using and what it's costing us. Understanding that only a small percentage of our team was using IRC helped us make the case to move to Slack, which appealed to a wider percentage of employees.
- Choosing Benefits & Perks - Leaning on our brokers, news articles, and the fine folks of OrgOrg, we've been able to pull industry data and review the benefits and perks we offer to stay competitive. We also survey employees periodically to see what's most important to them. That way, we're able to design plans that fit our company culture and position us well in the marketplace.
When I'm thinking about projects for my team, I look at past successes and known issues. When I want to make big changes, I back my suggestions up with data.
Data helps you get a seat at that elusive table. It helps you feel more secure in your decisions (especially in a sort of nebulous or undefined role - I'm sure none of you know what I'm talking about!). It gives you something to measure against, so you know if your plans were successful.
What are your favorite tools for collecting and measuring data? How have you found success letting the numbers be your friends?