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3 Ways to Use Data to Set and Track Your Organizational Goals Data, used appropriately, can be the best tool in a company's toolbox.

By Andre Lavoie Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Data is finding its footing in the workplace: A 2016 survey from i4cp found that 67 percent of organizations surveyed said they now use results from human capital analytics projects. This increase in the use of analytics shows a shift toward predictive practices that will likely have a huge impact on the way companies run their operations.

Related: Without Good Analysis, Big Data Is Just a Big Trash Dump

In short, employers -- recognizing that data is crucial in goal-setting and other business aspects -- are using tracking information to made educated decisions. Here are some ways your company can use data to set and track your organizational and employee goals.

1. Define 'OKRs.'

Objectives and key results (OKRs) is a popular technique that helps get whole teams moving in one direction. No more one-time "tips" and "tricks" for a quick boost that fails to sustain continued success. Instead, OKRs use data to create long-lasting solutions.

This way, companies can set objectives and come up with key results that are metric-based indicators of success. Companies can then make those key results visible, to encourage accountability at all levels of their organizations.

A May 2016 survey of 250 companies from Geckoboard found that those companies considered keeping their employees aware of key metrics and setting clear objectives the top important factors for company growth. When employees are given and are aware of specific targets to aim for, they are more engaged in their work and motivated because they know what success looks like.

So, how should companies start setting their goals?

The answer is to begin at the top. Set broad goals that are large in scale; then cascade the objectives down to your teams and individual employees. Define what the objective is and the key result you expect to be accomplished. For example, for marketers, that objective might be "Build brand awareness to create more leads and conversions." The key result would be "Increase website traffic by X percent."

Related: 4 Things Data is Not and Where to Focus Instead

Ensure that each key result is trackable and has a time frame. As the Geckoboard survey found, 92 percent of participating companies that tracked their metrics in real time had met some or all of their goals in the previoius 12 months -- compared to 64 percent of companies that did not track in real time.

When tracking metrics like traffic, keep each team's members informed about how their work is contributing to this goal. Objectives need to be large enough to break down into smaller steps; and these objectives should consist of several key results because every goal should have several possible routes to attainment.

Overall, data can drive performance and help teams hit their goals. Keep a finger on the pulse of the OKRs at your company and focus on organizational alignment.

2. Align and track team members.

Set each employee up for success with realistic goals to aim for. When objectives seem out of reach, the team's performance suffers. A study from the University at Buffalo School of Management found that even teams that had been successful in the past and had plenty of resources became less efficient when management set unrealistic expectations.

Don't let that be you. Instead, structure each goal to build toward the organization's overall goals. Provide real-time tracking and visuals so your staffers can see how they are progressing, and take corrective actions if needed. This will help leaders see how work is allocated.

Performance data adds depth and value to employee evaluations and informs better, more constructive feedback. It can also act as crucial evidence of, and show employees and employers alike where, each person is struggling -- or succeeding. This information may help adjust organizational expectations and provide more accurate project-assignment and task allocation.

3. Improve quality of hire.

Goal-tracking data can inform your company's post-hire quality metric to measure how your talent acquisition is progressing. Using performance data, hiring managers can provide detailed, informed opinions and solutions for newer employees to improve on, and determine what the hiring team should look for in future candidates.

It's important to conduct surveys to measure your workforce's satisfaction levels and analyze how your employees align with the company's culture and values. This gauges how well the team is hiring for cultural fit.

Also, revenue-per-employee data helps determine your company's costs of turnover and hiring. Recruiting goals factor into larger, organizational goals, which is why quality of hire is a crucial factor to measure and analyze.

Predictive analytics can be analyzed to guide the talent acquisition team to make better hiring decisions and improve its entire recruitment process.

Related: Not Using Big Data for Hiring? You May Be Missing Out on the Best Candidates.

When used appropriately, data is the best tool in the toolbox for employers to set and track goals that contribute to organizational alignment and sustained growth.

Andre Lavoie

Entrepreneur; CEO and Co-Founder, ClearCompany

Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the talent-management solution that helps companies identify, hire and retain more A players. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter.


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