How to Overcome the Greatest Risk to Your Company's Agenda

Using people analytics, business leaders can pull back the shroud and decode the mysterious inner workings of their organization.

learn more about Zachary Johnson

By Zachary Johnson


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Not having the right team ranks third on the long list of reasons startups fail (behind lacking a market for the product and running out of cash). Indeed, out of more than 100 startup failures analyzed, 23 percent placed their problems at the feet of people.

The good news: Most organizations already have the people necessary to drive a strategic agenda; the leaders just don't know their names yet.

Using people analytics -- essentially any type of data that provide insights into an organization's workforce -- can pull back the shroud and decode the mysterious inner workings of an organization.

HR data is pulled from a company's human resource information system or existing employee data, while relational data is found by asking employees questions about their co-workers. The combination of the two, plus the leaders' intuitions, provide important insights into what is happening at the company -- both what is going well and what isn't.

Related: 3 Destructive Employee Syndromes No Boss Can Tolerate

Few tools allow a leader to see an overall view of his company, but that's exactly what people analytics does. Here are some of the benefits of using people analytics:

1. Make a growing company seem smaller.

Companies often divide customers into segments, so why not do the same with talent pools? People analytics can help by creating a whole picture that shows who is bridging the gaps, who is already on the team but underutilized and who could be the next great change agent.

2. Identify allies.

When implementing any sort of agenda, especially one that will radically change the way an organization works, know the change agents. It's a mistake to think employees are interchangeable: They're not. But some can have greater overall impacts than others, and it isn't always obvious who they are. People analytics can help identify allies, and you can work with them to grow their abilities to positively affect your organization.

3. Smoke out enemies.

If members of the leadership staff feel negatively about a forthcoming change, they have the ability to totally overthrow the decision. Then, you are forced into a reactive position. But with people analytics, you can proactively identify who might stand in the way so you can think strategically when you prepare for changes -- and even predict outcomes.

Related: What You Can Learn From Hollywood on Hiring and Managing Employees

4. Stop focusing on everything but people.

Entrepreneurs sometimes forget about people, because they simply have too many other things to think about. But that needs to change. According to professional-service company KPMG, "Well thought-out predictive HR analytics could become as important to the CEO as the balance sheet and P&L statement."

The collection and use of people analytics can greatly enhance business outcomes and help solve problems. People analytics helps leaders see the totalities of their companies so they can effectively manage employees, mitigate risks and drive strategic agendas -- and ultimately avoid becoming just another startup failure statistic.

Related: 5 Tips to Master the Delicate Art of Delegation

Zachary Johnson

CEO and Co-Founder of Syndio

Zachary Johnson is the CEO and co-founder of Syndio, an enterprise people analytics company based in Chicago. Syndio uses a network-based approach to help organizations measure the critical intangibles of employee success: innovation, collaboration and trust.

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