Using Analytics for Executive Search

Many big organizations are failing to see much return from investment in people analytics. But those that continue building such capabilities discover how powerful the systematic harnessing of people data can be in the long run. Talent experts Tim Gardner of Teamalytics, Tuck Rickards of Russell Reynolds Associates, Gus de Camargo of Leathwaite, Jacob Zabkowicz of Korn Ferry, and Erin Callaghan of Wilton & Bain weigh in!

March 23, 2023 – As the competition for highly skilled talent intensifies, companies are turning to big data and analytics to gain a competitive edge. With the help of these tools, businesses can now identify top candidates with precision and speed, reducing the time and resources required to fill executive-level positions. By measuring data on the success of previous hires, companies can improve the quality of future hires by identifying key attributes and characteristics that have led to success in the past. Predictive analytics is also becoming increasingly popular in executive recruitment. By analyzing data on past hiring trends, companies are building predictive models that can identify potential future trends and help them make more informed decisions about recruitment strategies. These models can provide valuable insights into the types of candidates that are most likely to succeed in particular roles and within certain industries.

But big data and analytics are not just about improving outcomes – they can also play a crucial role in improving company culture and promoting diverse hiring decisions. By analyzing data on employee engagement and retention, companies can identify areas where they may need to make changes to improve the overall employee experience. Additionally, by analyzing data on past hiring practices, companies can identify areas where they may be falling short in terms of diversity and inclusion, and take steps to improve their hiring processes.

Overall, the power of big data and analytics are transforming the way companies approach executive recruitment, providing valuable insights and predictive models that can help companies identify top talent, improve the quality of their hires, and promote a more diverse and inclusive workplace culture.

Talent Experts Weigh In

“Companies typically don’t have data around soft skills like leadership development,” said Tim Gardner, SVP of consulting, at Teamalytics. “We believe that data is critical: You measure what you treasure. For more than 25 years, Teamalytics has collected and analyzed behavioral data from over 500,000 individuals in many of the largest and most respected organizations in the world. Our proprietary behavioral analytics system, which employs a 360 process, enables us to quickly give leaders insight into what it feels like to be around them through the perception of the people who work with them. This insight helps us assist individuals and teams build and implement action plans that lead to lasting change and to happy, more productive, and inclusive teams.”

Having healthy team relationships is critical to building elite teams that get lasting results,” Mr. Gardner said. “Our approach to building elite teams is grounded in the recognition that healthy relationships coupled with a drive to deliver outstanding results are critical ingredients for team success. Based on our analysis and experience working with over 500,000 individuals and thousands of teams in various sectors, including Fortune 500 companies, the military, professional sports, and education, we have identified critical leadership behaviors that are necessary to cultivate strong relationships while not sacrificing a focus on accountability and results in order to develop elite teams that lead to improved performance.”

Despite the aspirational statements that most organizations use to describe their culture, in reality your culture is the behaviors that you teach and tolerate,” said Mr. Gardner. “We use behavioral analytics to measure individuals, teams, and organizations to determine a snapshot of the current culture and recommend processes to drive behaviors closer to the aspirational culture that gives the company a competitive advantage.”

“More and better data leads to better talent decisions.,” said Tuck Rickards, managing director and co-leader core and growth technology practice at Russell Reynolds Associates. “We’ve found that bringing multiple lenses and sources of data into the process of evaluating leaders reduces risk around high stakes talent decisions. Adding psychometric tools to the candidate assessment process ensures that we’re balancing subjective data with objective insights.  This balanced approach helps us reduce bias in the selection process and create more dynamic models around predictors of executive performance and success.”

“Analytics help with supporting context but cannot be used in a vacuum,” said Mr. Rickards. “Company needs and role requirements are unique – by stage, function, etc., and analytics need to be targeted and precise to be helpful.”

“Russell Reynolds Associates embeds analytics end to end in the search process to supplement our knowledge of markets, talent pools and candidates,” Mr. Rickards said. “We also use analytics to accelerate development of long lists and to ensure inclusive candidate slates.”

“For executive search, it’s less about big data and analytics and more about artificial intelligence and machine learning,” said Gus De Camargo, partner at Leathwaite. “Tools are being built and used to advance and automate the candidate identification process. That is where the value-add is. Technology cannot replace or replicate the art of contacting someone, delivering a value proposition, and reacting to the dynamics of a person’s personal and professional circumstance. This will always be a human-led activity, no matter how much big tech tries to automate that process.”

“However, regarding the candidate identification aspect, technology is playing a key role there,” Mr. De Camargo said. “AI and ML technology allows for the creation of a source list of candidates very quickly and fairly targeted with little human interaction. The tools can then produce a list of candidates for review. As you are doing this, the ML engine is getting smarter and making conclusions and determinations on what good looks like on the basis of your selections. The end result is a fast and extensive candidate source list.”

“However, it’s important to highlight again that the value-add is in producing a comprehensive source list and automating the research aspect of the process, something that a human would take longer to do,” said Mr. De Camargo. “The real value in what we do is in story-telling and influencing/persuading people to take action on something they otherwise would not without our involvement.”

Analytics help recruiters understand the market and communicate the market to the hiring manager, effectively setting and managing expectations,” said Jacob Zabkowicz, vice president and general manager at Korn Ferry global RPO. “It also helps direct sourcing strategies, by informing which sources will be more beneficial. This allows for better cost controls and time management.“

“Analytics also helps shape the communication with the candidate to effectively position the employer’s employer value proposition,” Mr. Zabkowicz said. “Analytics are just that, numbers, stats and trends. They are not 100 percent accurate all the time and we have to remember we are still in the business of people. Emotions play a lot into the decisions of candidates.”

“It really depends on the situation for my personal use of analytics, but often we use analytics for market insights and trends, setting expectations on timelines and candidate pools, and consulting on offer packages,” Mr. Zabkowicz said.

Using data science backed tools for hiring – like the talent analytics platform Wisnio who Wilton & Bain partner with – offer multiple benefits,” said Erin Callaghan, global technology, telecoms and digital partner of Wilton & Bain. “They reduce time to hire by streamlining decisions and aligning stakeholders, they take bias from decision making as the results of the assessments are data and science backed, and they help businesses and hiring managers understand where talent gaps are, meaning talent planning is more efficient.”

I believe all forward-thinking executive search firms and talent acquisition specialists should have a suite of analytical tools as part of their professional toolkit,” said Ms. Callaghan. We use analytics tools to benchmark the existing team by understanding their competencies, values, and personalities. This means we can accurately capture talent gaps and strengths and therefore understand – through data, facts, and behavioral science – what would be most additive when making a new hire into that organization. It adds speed and objectivity and reduces bias in the decision-making process. We have follow on tools not just for executive recruitment, but for onboarding and development, too.”

Related: Hiring Top Talent in Unprecedented Times

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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