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30 July, 2013 by

3 Things Google Taught Us about Talent Analytics

Google LogoOne of the favorite parts of my job is speaking with progressive business leaders around the world to learn how they solve their most pressing challenges.  And recently, I was fortunate enough to speak with Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of HR.

We talked about what it takes to develop talent analytics that actually improve business outcomes. This is a really big challenge for HR executives.  How big?  In spite of the hype around companies using big data, only 15% of leaders we’ve surveyed, from front-line managers to CFOs, changed a decision in the past year because of data from HR.

Here are the three things Laszlo said about talent analytics that have stuck with me:

1.    Data does not lead to perfect decisions.
Google analyzed all sorts of ways to develop a better hiring process and found that four 30-minute interviews let them predict whether they should hire someone with about 90% accuracy. Google doesn’t do more than four interviews anymore, because every additional interview only increased accuracy by 1%, so the ROI just isn’t there.

2.    Smart people are more important than smart technology.
Laszlo says technology investments often don’t pay off by themselves.  Software systems take a long time to develop and implementation can take years.   So if forced to prioritize one over the other—people vs. technology investments—he believes HR leaders “are far better off having the most brilliant people you can get.” (Our recent research on talent analytics backs him up.) For about one-third of all HR positions, Google recruits people with unusual backgrounds in working creatively with data: engineers, social network analysts, and even experts in artificial intelligence.

3.    It’s never too late to use data.
Laszlo admitted that there are a lot of times he still has to use his gut to make decisions, like taking action on an employee in a tough situation, or deciding promotions. But he makes sure to go back 3 or 6 months later to collect data and see if his decision was right or wrong. It can be hard to see your mistakes, but Laszlo strongly believes this is the secret to improving his own personal decision-making.

Check out the full interview with Laszlo and see how other HR leaders are improving business outcomes with talent data in the CHRO Quarterly Magazine.

Download an excerpt of The Analytics Era to preview our latest insights for increasing the impact of HR data on the business.

Register for our complimentary webinar on talent analytics (Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. EDT).

One Response

  • Rajan says:

    Firstly appreciate the statement “Data does not lead to perfect decisions”. It only echoes the footprint of an investment instrument which reads “Investments involve market risks; past performance do not guarantee results in the future”. Secondly, everyone will agree to “Smart people are more important than smart technology. Its rephrased as “to use smart gadgets one need not be smart”. Third, data only supports or validates. Gut feeling or intuition matters the most.

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