At McKinsey, we’ve been developing our own approach to retention: to detect previously unobserved behavioral patterns, we combine various data sources with machine-learning algorithms. We first held workshops and interviews to generate ideas and a set of hypotheses. Over time, we collected hundreds of data points to test. Then we ran different algorithms to get insights at a broad organizational level, to identify specific employee clusters, and to make individual predictions. Last, we held a series of workshops and focus groups to validate the insights from our models and to develop a series of concrete interventions.Reference: Power to the new people analytics.
The insights have been surprising and at times counterintuitive. We expected factors such as an individual’s performance rating or compensation to be the top predictors of unwanted attrition. But our analysis revealed that a lack of mentoring and coaching and of “affiliation” with people who have similar interests were actually top of list. More specifically, “flight risk” across the firm fell by 20 to 40 percent when coaching and mentoring were deemed satisfying.
My intent in this article is neither to summarize it nor even comment on it. Rather, I mean to prompt CEOs and their leadership teams to pause and reflect on their business and industry, their market and competition, and their people and resources vis-a-vis the advent of people analytics.
- How do you understand what is going on within and outside your company, and what is your experience of it, both individually and collectively?
- What are gaps in your understanding, which require bridging, and what haven't you experienced, which require experiencing?
- What meaning can you draw from such reflection and understanding, that is, in relation to the vision, the purpose, and the values that are at the heart and soul of your business?
- Besides your analytic or rational thinking hat, what does your intuitive, creative or non-rational brain say about all of this?
- What diverse or critical points of view do you need to engage in this reflection, that is, from your people, networks, advisers, competitors, customers, and resources?
- What would you like to do about it, or more pointedly what do you need to do about it; that is, what is it that you aim to accomplish?
- How can you best accomplish what you want and need to accomplish, given the capability, motivation and energy in your current and prospective people?
- What other reflective questions do you need to ask yourselves?