Making Big Data Work For You


Big Data

What’s the big deal about big data? When it comes to employees, utilizing big data can be the difference between that perfect hire and a time soaking hiring debacle that makes you cringe each day as you drive to the office. It can be the difference between a well-aligned team and one that puts the “D” in dysfunctional.


Seven years ago, when I transitioned from leading human resources in large organizations to a smaller company, two things quickly became clear to me. On one hand, complicated projects that used to take me months and years to implement could now be done in weeks. On the other, I noticed that the rich employee data, big data, that I had been accustomed to was harder to come by.


In particular, I missed having employee style/behavioral related data. When working at large firms, I was fortunate to have access to several behavioral assessment tools and it was helpful that our current and prospective employees were willing to take the hour plus time needed to complete these assessments. The resultant data was helpful with recruiting, manager development, team selection/development and leadership development. Unfortunately, working at a smaller company, I found that these tools didn’t fit in my budget. Even if they had, getting current and prospective employees to take the one hour plus assessment would have proven a challenge in my new lean/ultra-competitive environment.


So, I decided to find a behavioral assessment tool that met my organization’s needs. Other than fitting my budget and taking a reasonable amount of time to administer, it was important to me that it worked and that validation tests had been completed that also verified it was not biased. I wanted a tool that allowed my team and me to do the driving. I didn’t have the patience or time to work with a team of I.O. Psychologists. I was fortunate to meet Steve Picarde, Jr from PI Midlantic who introduced me to a tool that met all if these criteria, Predictive Index.


PI initially proved its value with recruiting. We were already doing a good job of finding candidates that had the skills, background and experiences that we needed. We were frustrated, though when candidates with the right skills and experiences were sometimes not working out because they were either not a fit to the role, their team or our organization. This was perplexing because while on paper these looked like good hires, we missed assessing an attribute that was elusive with our interview process. We missed understanding their behavioral profile. Later on, there were indicators, though. Telltale feedback from managers frequently included some combination of the following:


  • doesn’t fit well with the team
  • not detail oriented enough
  • stuck in the details, I need more high-level focus
  • socializes too much
  • doesn’t integrate well with the team
  • tries too hard to do things he/her way
  • too quick to make decisions
  • just doesn’t get us


With PI, we initially established a job pattern that defined what behavioral profile we needed for the open position addressing the attributes above and many more. We then compared the PI job profiles of existing top performers in similar jobs, which helped us refine our target job profile pattern. Our candidates took the PI assessment early in the interview process. Our top candidates were the ones who fit our behavioral profile who also had the skills, background and experiences we needed. Data from the PI assessment helped us customize interview questions that gave us a higher level of confidence of behavioral fit.


In short order, we noticed two things. When we used PI as a component of the hiring process, results were much better than before. When we ignored PI data, our hiring success dropped. This resulted in PI becoming a key part of our hiring process. We then used PI to help our managers' development and grow our employees and for team building. PI became part of our culture. The “Big Data” we utilized from Predictive Index made a significant contribution to our ability to select and motivate our staff.


Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to transition once more. Instead of being a client of PI, I am now a part of the PI Midlantic team as a Certified PI Consultant.  This allows me to dedicate most of my time to the part of HR I enjoy the most, helping companies end up with motivated employees. The systems, tools and processes we implement help organizations avoid hiring debacles, motivate their existing staff and build effective teams.