We’ve reached the end of our step-by-step breakdown of becoming a more human leader. Step six is about using data to understand the state of your workforce. Without data, managers and leaders must rely solely on their gut instinct to make decisions, and they often end up promoting broken processes or ignoring major problems in their business.
In this episode, you’ll hear how data gives you a clear picture of engagement levels in your organization so you can make better decisions for your company and your people.
To guide us on this last stage of the journey, we’ll hear from Christine Kaszubski, Chief People Officer at Pindrop Security. Christine has over 30 years of experience in the HR or people operations space, and she joins Emplify’s Co-founder and Chief People Officer, Adam Weber to discuss the importance of using data to measure employee engagement.
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[00:00:00] Welcome back. So lead like a human, the latest season of insights and original series by amplify I'm Nicole MacLean. And today we are wrapping up our journey through Adam Weber's newest book. We'd like a human, which is now an Amazon bestseller and also available at target Walmart and Barnes and noble.
Can you believe how we made it? We're on the final step in our breakdown and becoming a better leader. In this episode, we're talking about step six, using data to help make the best decisions for your company and your employees along the way. We'll hear from Christine, coz sheepskin, chief people, officer at pin drop security.
Now you might be wondering, Nicole, what does data have to do with leading like a human? Well, I'm glad you asked, but first let me ask you. As a leader, how do you make decisions? And what information do you draw from to make those decisions [00:01:00] over the course of this season, we've broken down the steps you can take to become a better leader and create engaged teams.
Leveraging data is simply where it all comes together. You see, without data, you won't have a clear picture of your team, the most pressing issues that they need, your help to solve, or a true sense of if you're moving the needle. After all, we don't know what we don't know. Right. Well, to make sure for this unknown, most managers and leaders make decisions based on their gut or intuition, either with influence from most recent employee interactions.
The problem is without an unbiased source of information, like data, we ended up listening to the loudest voices in the room and can't accurately predict what impact a decision will have on the business. Now I'm not faulting leaders for relying on these subjective influences, leveraging gut and intuition are vital elements to leadership, but when combined with objective and [00:02:00] valid data, this unlocks incredible opportunity and can revolutionize how we engage our people.
So the first step is admitting that you may not know something. And remember part of learning to lead like a human means being vulnerable
for me to lead like a human means, being your true, genuine self, it means that you have the courage in order to show up with vulnerability, being genuine, leading with trust, and really having the best intent for those that follow you under your leadership. I think it's so important and a huge lesson that I've learned along the way.
And the fact that being vulnerable as a leader is a good thing. It opens you up to asking more questions, learning more, being self reflective, and being more easily readily accessible [00:03:00] for your employee base. I think that is in particular when a people operations leader shows vulnerability to an entire organization.
It helps to remove the veil of intimidation that sometimes can come and being in the HR people, operations function. Christine is absolutely right. Being vulnerable as a leader is a good thing. And we touched on this a little bit in step three, when we talked about sharing your personal gaps with your team and committing to personal growth.
Alright. So when we talk about data, what kind of data are we looking for? Well, it's not one of those surveys matching your team with their corresponding office character as much fun as that would be. What we need is data that gives us a clear picture of engagement levels across your organization. We utilize data because data tells the story.
When you look at analyze feedback and data points that you get back, you can use that in order to direct your focus. [00:04:00] Here's one example. So we do an engagement survey. We understand what the key drivers are to our employee's level of engagement within the organization. If we see a 2% drop in quarter over quarter, we know we're missing the Mark somewhere.
If we see a 3% increase in other areas, we know that we are successfully executing on the action plans that we created previously. And how do we continue to build on that? Literally data distracts your focus and how we can make sure that we're creating our strategic operating plan in order to bust to support the engagement of our employees, therefore drive action and accountability within the business.
Before we go any further. I want to take a moment and point out a few key things about the actual process of gathering data. There were a few criteria that you should pay attention to if you want reliable and actionable data that will help you lead your people more effectively. First, you have to ask the [00:05:00] right questions in order to get the right answers, having a trusted partner to help you craft your questions and make sense of all the data is crucial.
Second, make sure that you're measuring the right thing. Meaning we're looking for data on engagement, not satisfaction. Now we've talked a lot about the difference between these two terms on the show, but as a quick reminder, satisfaction questions will look something like. Are you satisfied with compensation and benefits or would you recommend to a friend that they should work here?
And these aren't bad questions, they just won't give you meaningful information in order to inspire and truly engage your team. And third, keep results completely confidential. This is vital to the entire process of gathering data. If your team has even the slightest suspicion that their individual responses could be seen by management, it will skew their answers and invalidate your data.
This is another reason why having a trusted partner is extremely beneficial [00:06:00] because bringing in a third party adds a layer of separation that will put your employee's minds more at ease than if you were to do this internally. All right. So once we've gathered the data, the next piece is to understand the insights from that data.
This is where a light begins to shine on the unknown and creates a path for how to take meaningful action for your team. I asked Christine to share a concrete example of how this has played out in her career. One key example, where we use data in order to drive our strategy was in engagement levels of new hires between six and 12 months, we saw that their level of engagement, interaction, and confidence in their ability to do the job was dropping during that time frame.
What was so interesting is, is that individuals that were coming into the organization had exceptionally high levels of engagement zero to six months. And then when they hit that six month Mark, we saw a drastic decrease. Well, we knew that we needed to engage those individuals at a higher level. [00:07:00] And so we created a longer term action plan in order to continue to do the onboarding process from six to 12 months.
And included. What have you learned so far? Where are the gaps and your skills that you feel you need to solve for in order to be successful? We included at that point also more interaction from our founders so that they continue to get visibility and exposure to leadership within the organization.
After we put some of those things in place. We saw that that level of engagement and confidence and ability to do the job shot right back up. Now I have an entire year of an engaged employee that feels confident in their ability, skill set, and ability to accomplish their job. Then we do that and we apply that to the next year because of course that's life cycle for the employee between 12, 18 months and 12 and 24 months.
Now Christine highlights a couple key points in this process that I want to bring your attention to. When they found out that engagement was [00:08:00] dropping from high to low, around that six month Mark, it was an early indication that they had to take action in order to correct it, but to truly understand they needed another set of data to see what happens to engagement during an employee's tenure between that six and 12 month Mark.
The insight here is that you may not have enough information after just one round of a service. And this is why animals surveys can be so ineffectual instead, measuring at the rate of change of your business will ensure that you're getting relevant and helpful information. So once Christine and her team had these insights into engagement, I took action.
And this is key. All the data in the world. Won't do you any good if you don't act on it? This is one of the most common reasons I hear as to why a company won't survey their team, because they don't know what they'll do with the data. Once they get it again, working with a third party can help you understand to action quickly.
So what comes next? Well, [00:09:00] keep measuring. Get that feedback from your team to see if your action actually solved the problem. Are you starting to see the cycle here, measure, analyze act, and then measure again, engagement isn't a onetime event or something that you can just check the box on. It's an ongoing process, but this process gives you a consistent stream of information.
So you're never charging into a decision blindly with only your gut or intuition to go on. Speaking of where does intuition factor into this process? Well, as I said earlier, your gut is a valuable asset as a leader, but how much should you really trust? It is a delicate balance between data and trusting your gut instinct.
So, as I mentioned before, data does tell the story. You can see trends, you can identify gaps. We use that in order to create a strategic operating plan. But your gut instinct in particular, those of us that lead other individuals is so vital in how we lead [00:10:00] and making sure that we're making the right decisions.
But what's super interesting. Is it that actually a gut instinct is a derivative of your own personal beliefs and experiences. So if you think about it in that way, it's actually other data points. It's some of the experiences that we have gone through previously that helps to drive that gut instinct.
So the delicate balance between the two is absolutely taking the data into consideration, but then I like to ask leaders, what do you know to be true? And when they're able to reflect on just believe this to be true, or I just think this will happen well, then we get to flush out. Okay. How accurate do we think that that is?
What is the probability that, that outcome will occur? What don't we know, what are we trying to solve for? And when we balance those two things out, It is really creating the best solution of what is true, what is genuine to the leader [00:11:00] and what is genuine to the culture. And I think that that's, what's really important.
When you think about the balance between data and gut instinct. When making decisions as a human, you bring unique history of experiences, beliefs, and values to your role. And if you're going to lead like a human, you can't just ignore these things, but data helps you find a balance between what you think is true and what's actually happening.
And as odd as it sounds, data actually helps you lead more like a human. Data can help an individual lead more like a human that might sound like a country diction, but let me explain. I think that that individual can review and analyze data all day long, but at the end of the day, it needs to make sure that we're always encompassing that human component.
We are people we're each unique unto ourselves and we have our own history of beliefs, experiences, and [00:12:00] values that we bring to the table. Understanding that we even in a big business need to make sure that we are taking those things into account when we're dealing with individuals as essential. I think that being, making sure that we have the balance between the data and the human component is so important and because.
We use data more and more. It is actually making sure that we have that balance. So, you know, think about the data and the scales. And if we don't have that human component on the other side, then it is far too weighted to only make decisions based on data points. And the reverse is true. If we lean too much on the human component and don't take data into considerations and we can have blind spots into making those decisions because we're leaning too heavily on the human component.
So I think that it's actually a call to action or a checks and balances between the two. I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating, leading like a human means. You can't ignore that you as the leader are well, human [00:13:00] and listening to your intuition is a huge, huge part of that. I asked Adam to offer his perspective on ignoring your gut in favor of data.
What I don't want to do is entirely dismissed. Following of your gut concept, intuition as a leader or their compass is a very real thing, but I would caution against following it exclusively. And I would encourage leaders to balance that against data because the problem with your gut is that it often misses the majority of your people.
Because your, your gut has bias. It, here's what it wants to hear. It has a predictable narrative that aligns to your narrative and it listens to the loudest voices, the most influential voices. Oftentimes it listens to the top 20% of the org and the bottom 20% of the org. It misses is that, that, that majority right in the middle.
Where we don't have clarity on what is truly causing them, [00:14:00] just to show every day clock in clock out. We're not hearing from those people. And so our gut will lead us to hear those words, voices, and make decisions on as opposed to truly understanding what is, what is impacting that group in the middle.
This all goes back to what we said earlier about leaders, making decisions based on the loudest voices. It's so easy to let yourself get taken with the latest problems. According to the water cooler human leaders want to solve challenges and create a healthy environment, but to do it effectively, it all goes back to the theme of this episode.
Data. The data is all about focus. I think every leader, there are an infinite amount of priorities that can, that can fight in buy for your attention. And I have seen the most well-intentioned leaders who are just worn ragged, because they're trying so many things to drive engagement on their team. And they have the spirit [00:15:00] behind it is great, but it is absolutely exhausting.
What using data does is it gives you clarity and it gives you focus because you can take that spirit that you have, which says, like, I care about my employees, but instead of feeling this overwhelming nature or this frustration, like why don't they appreciate me? Don't they see all I'm doing and it gives them.
Really practical focused things that are actually aligned with the employees. And on top of that, what it also does is it creates alignment between the employee and the leader. Like you hear us. We're all speaking the same language and it also takes away the politics as well, that are involved. Like this is not a political thing.
Our goal here is to understand the state of the employees and make sound wise leadership decisions that unlocked the performance and engagement of our team. There it is unlocking the [00:16:00] performance and engagement of your team is what leading like a human is all about. It's solving real problems for real people.
Your people, which means being willing to ask hard questions, to find out what those problems exactly are. Well friends, it seems our journey together is nearing its end. And as we wrap up the step-by-step breakdown of what it means to lead like a human, I congratulate you on taking your first step on the journey to becoming your best self by unlocking your own potential, seeing the best in your team and leading them and unlocking their potential.
You will create an engaged, loyal, and high performing team. And you'll become the type of leader that you can really be proud of. Of course, you'll experience difficulties along the way, but don't let them stop. You find the why that drives you and become the leader that you were always meant to be. Thank you for joining us for this special season of insight.
Be sure to pick up your [00:17:00] copy of lead, like a human on Amazon Barnes and noble or wherever you get books. Now, before we go, I do have an ask. We want to know what are the biggest questions on your mind as we head into 2021, a lot of snow at amplify.com/questions. That's emplify.com/questions. We'll use these to help bring you even more insights in our next season.
See you then.