Insights and News /

22 June 2018 3 min read

Intelligent people and talent data – Let’s start with what's missing

Catherine Walker

Catherine Walker
Senior Manager | People and process excellence | London

It's a sad state of affairs when the interview process amounts to one of the most detailed discussions about aspirations and talent that an employer and employee typically have. Given the personal data revealed in answer to rigorous interview questions, it’s miraculous that so few companies revisit or really utilise this data. In highlighting this common pitfall, I look to make the following statement: When it comes to meaningful talent data; next generation improvements need to start with what’s missing.

People and talent data – What’s missing?
So what is missing and where can it be found? You’ll be pleased to know upfront that so called ‘missing’ people and talent data, which can be leveraged to promote mobility through vacancy filling, rotation opportunities, and succession planning, is hiding in plain sight.
Through business growth and expansion people can, and have in many cases, become faceless. Conversations about talent often become updates about rating labels, year on year fluctuations and gender statistics. What starts as a conversation about people quickly becomes impersonal and statistics driven. 
To improve processes like this, a blend of ‘hard’ and ‘soft data’ is needed. Why? Because what good is knowing that someone is considered for vertical progression in the Finance function when you can’t contextualise it with personal circumstance and business need.
By blending hard data with softer elements, action to outcome becomes a lot easier…
All businesses have access to these softer types of data; it’s just a case of bringing it together to allow intelligent insights to be made.


The tables above give an indication of the sorts of valuable people data that is often missing

  • ‘Right first time’ decision making fuelled by people data  
  • Enables people and talent planning that isn’t biased to the business by not neglecting the motivation and aspiration of those being discussed
  • Leadership visibility of talent and succession in the context of reality  
  • Reduction in expensive and lengthy external hiring habits by enabling action to outcome e.g. matching “looking to hire” with “ready to move”
  • Drives increased engagement levels amongst key talent by focusing on the personal factors that inform career decisions e.g. motivations, aspirations, mobility constraints etc.
  • The benefits are cumulative. Capturing ‘missing’ people and talent data is engaging and empowering and having visibility of this enables intelligent business planning and action

Alongside other priorities, being more intelligent about people and talent data often drops down the list. Why? Because it’s not thought to be associated with immediate revenue loss, it’s not something businesses are fined for, the list goes on!
As team augmentation, project based roles, younger workforces, and flexible working increase; a more people-focused understanding of motivations, preferences and constraints will provide a competitive advantage in the battle for talent retention. It’s therefore essential that as businesses continue to grow and develop from a technological perspective, the focus and intelligent management of underlying people and talent data keep pace.