Use Data to Build High Performing Teams

Building High Performing Teams with Data

The Power of Knowledge

Teams are crucial to the success of any organization; they are the parts that make the sum of your outcome. Your vision relies on the individual and interpersonal dynamics of those teams, and understanding them starts with identifying and measuring key points. But where do we start?

The first step should be clearly mapping the landscape of the problem you’re solving or the objective you’re looking to achieve. Here it is crucial to be as specific as possible, as this will be the lens through which you view your key performance indicators.

Companies are Made of People

In the realm of human dynamics, metrics are often difficult to measure. That’s because people are complicated, and they vary a lot.  Where knowledge areas such as technical expertise are easier to identify with a resume and interview, there are many other areas where measurement is more complex.

Human complexity can make a macroscopic view less than ideal as an organization grows. Errors in systems of personality and communication accumulate with subtlety, and can lead to unexpected and often undesirable results like brain drain. This leads to expending resources on problems you may have avoided with a clearer picture, such as turnover and laborious onboarding and training. Human data is instrumental to mitigating risk and reducing cost.

Surgical Interventions

The best information is useful both in terms of risk management, and opportunities to optimize. Every piece of data you collect must be justified in terms of return-on-investment (ROI), and you should look at data points you can influence with solutions such as training.

One example of this is stress – are you measuring your pressure points? A report published by Quinlan & Associates in 2017 found that nearly $1 billion in costs were accrued by banks due to people voluntarily leaving these institutions. They remarked that the problem “can only be solved through radically shifting culture.”

One way I work with companies to address this problem is engineering meaningful work practices through training.

This is a combination of implementing metacognitive systems while fine tuning corporate culture. Unveiling key data on the people that support your organizational goals reveals where training is most valuable and drives higher ROI.

Abundance of Data

These days it’s not hard to set up systems to measure accurately, at scale, and without too much cost, once you know what to look for. Innovations in measurement have made collecting data fast and extremely precise. There are also many new and useful techniques to aggregate and analyze that data such as with machine learning and specialized statistical analysis, but advanced computing systems aren’t necessary to take advantage of this information.

An Agile Management Approach

Understanding how people think and act can also empower you to better motivate individuals with customized management practices. It enables leaders to balance teams by personality, vet candidates quickly with role-centralized metrics, or support key high performing individuals with cognitive enhancement or other support systems.

This understanding is also an excellent way to differentiate candidates with similar qualifications and experience – giving you a robust, multidimensional hiring framework.

Systems Approach

Once you have mapped your problem landscape with key data points, begin to engineer a solution with this information. Your data landscape reveals where specialized training and hiring is most effective, driving high ROI. This is especially true for Canadian organizations who can leverage training grants such as those facilitated by Mentor Works.

Developing opportunities for meaningful training and team design principles comes from a combination of awareness and strategy. Once you have that strategy in place, real-time or fast-cycling data can quickly measure the effectiveness of your intervention, and allow you to iterate with agility.

As managers and leaders, we’re expected to predict, plan for, and act on behalf of a future goal – and to quote one of the greatest tacticians in history:

“If you know your enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”
– Sun Tsu

Author Profile

Ben Switzer is the Founder of True Focus, a cognitive enhancement and organizational optimization firm. He has worked in cognitive enhancement and sales management consulting for nearly a decade, working to empower teams with clarity and process to drive results.



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