What is a People Analyst? A People Analyst is a person that guides others to a mathematical model of how people relate to business outcomes to produce a more decisive allocation of resources and a plan to conquer serious competitors before running out of time and resources.
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A People Analyst specializes in helping companies measure, analyze and change people inputs to drive different business outputs using mathematical models, as opposed to producing canned reports. Here is a preview of several key differences that distinguish a People Analyst approach to people analytics from conventional approaches to people analytics.
1 people analyst process design - Rapid collaborative impact
People Analyst’s apply frameworks, process and tools to design and validate a conceptual variable relationship model. People analyst only implements permanent systems once a conceptual model has been validated and and only when the the associated data model useful to repeat. The result is much faster cycle time from problem identification, to solution validation, to problem resolution.
Speed is a result of investment in preparation. A people analyst applies base models to get to impactful insights - that justify their own investment - faster than could be obtained without bas models. A people analyst doesn’t take the risk (and spend the time and money) to implement expensive systems just to get started. That is exactly the opposite of the approach a people analyst takes . . . We design projects to take out risk and waste.
The point is that a validated conceptual model that connects people measures to outcome measures matters more than the systems. The process a people analyst takes will guide you to a validated model and then the system design will flow naturally from there. This approach is very different than conventional approaches.
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2 people analyst team design
A people analyst project is staffed in a very different way.
Each team is comprised of experienced people analytics, organization behavior and HR data professionals whom are paired with project specific functional business experts; all of whom spend their time working together on one thing: how do people inputs drive business performance?
During the initial discovery phase the People Analyst determines the necessary team structure. The People Analyst always pairs project specific people analytics professionals with project specific functional business partners (Sales, Finance, HR, Talent Acquisition, …), all of whom have real-world experience, with which results in practical approaches and solutions that actually get implemented and produce results. (as opposed to yet another dashboard that people look at one time and then nobody looks at again )
People Analysts have a demonstrated legacy of making a measurable and lasting impact on the the companies they have worked for through their work in people analytics, which necessarily intersects four very different areas of expertise: people strategy, science, statistics and systems. People Analysts work together with business partners to tap their subject matter experience and knowledge to iteratively test and modify the model until results are achieved. As a result, as long as all parties are committed a People Analyst should never fail.
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3 model design - what PEOPLE ANALYSTS actually do & deliver
People Analyst pairs a common people measurement framework key performance indicators (built from a base model) with custom key driver analysis. From there the People Analyst iterates until they can mathematically defend a working variable relationship model for a specific context. Once a conceptual model has been validated the People Analyst supports their stakeholders in implementing a people data collection, management, analysis and delivery environment that can be used to continuously learn from, challenge and update the variable relationship model.
The combination of common key performance indicators that can be trended and compared + custom key driver analysis allows stakeholders to apply over-sized resources to an under-sized differentiating focus, producing an advantage that will have meaningful impact on business results. Most companies follow the same sets of “best practices” and spread their people dollars too thin, which creates waste, but more importantly leaves substantial hole in their defenses for an adept People Analyst to drive a spear through to beat them.
Unlike canned HR data reporting solutions - People Analyst’s don’t just create more reports to sift through - People Analyst’s design and implement a conceptual model that guides them to people measures they can correlate to organization specific outcomes, to identify the people drivers of business performance and present insights that relate to this. From here stakeholders take action and then the People Analyst helps the stakeholder measure the impact of that action using the model. People Analyst’s are prepared to mathematically defend all of the advice they provide - or they don’t provide it in the first place!
Since products can be quickly copied and off the shelf systems and processes are not differentiating - we believe the careful measurement, analysis and management of people inputs in a mathematical model that is unique to your company is the only way you can create sustained differentiated business performance.
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4 PEOPLE ANALYST SUCCESS criteria
A People Analyst defines success by the recognized value of insights produced & $ impact of change, not hours or systems delivered.
People Analysts are not spokespeople, arbitrators and project managers of conventional technology and analytics providers. People Analysts may necessarily use or suggest technology but don’t sell software. A People Analysts doesn’t implement either a canned data reporting solution or sandbox. A People Analyst does not use waterfall project management methodology because waterfall does not work for people analytics - or any project with an unknown solutions, which is what people analytics is by definition. If we knew the answer, we wouldn’t need analytics!
After our initial discovery project, a People Analyst will provide stakeholders with a rough estimate on the effort for the analysis that they recommend. After that, a People Analyst works in sprints 2 weeks at a time.
50% of every People Analyst’s employee compensation package should be tied to a bonus that is entirely based on stakeholder engagement & measurable results, which naturally fosters collaboration and intimacy between People Analysts and business partners.
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um, Who is mike west, anyway?
Mike West was a pioneer of people analytics at Merck, PetSmart, Google, Children’s Health Dallas, Jawbone, and Pure Storage. Mike has made other data informed human resource management contributions at Molekule, Atlassian, Udemy, Otsuka, AstraZeneca, University of Minnesota Clerical Labor Union & Hallmark. The weird combination of experiences developing people analytics from scratch where none had existed before in companies of different sizes and in different industries forced Mike to have a different perspective on what works and what doesn’t. Mike spends nearly all of his time trying to communicate his weird ideas.
Interesting Stories Mike Can Tell. Mike was one of a few early analyst hires on Google’s world-renowned People Operations team credited with using data to reinvent HR and turn Google into the talent magnet that it is today. Mike’s contributions at Google included many firsts for people analytics at Google*.
*Mike’s firsts for People Analtyics at Google included work on Google's first HR data reporting architecture, Google's first employee survey (Happiness Survey and later renamed Googlegeist), Google's first benefits analytics, Google's first employee on-boarding analytics and Google's first employee attrition analytics, which included Google’s first employee exit prediction model.
Since that time Google has built on early success to create an unparalleled people analytics reputation and capability to create sustained business growth and win the #1 spot on the Global Fortune Best Company to Work For list an unprecedented eight times. (No other company in history has won the overall award more than two times)
Why would anyone leave Google? Seeing how important people analytics is to creating better companies, better places to work and a better world, Mike left Google, making it his life mission to share people analytics with companies of all sizes, shapes and colors.
Mike wrote People Analytics for Dummies (Wiley) You are only a dummy if you judge a book by it’s cover - just buy it!
Mike has published over 50+ articles on people analytics. It is hard to keep track of them. Here are some of them.
Ton’s more detail, and public references, are available on Mike’s LinkedIn profile.
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