Flying on Instruments

Enabling the modern multinational to pilot its people to positive experience and productivity

This week marks the 112-year anniversary of the first controlled and sustained human flight in an airplane. Designed and built by two American aviation pioneers, brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright, the first flight took off on December 17, 1903, flew for 12 seconds and covered 120 feet.

While other pioneers were also certainly building and flying primitive aircraft at the turn of the last century, the Wright brothers’ innovative axis control system was unique in that it enabled pilots to effectively navigate and maintain equilibrium for the first time – a feature that is still used on modern fixed-wing aircraft today. Where competing inventors focused their efforts on optimizing power and speed, the Wright brothers viewed pilot control as more important – something that, together with their efforts to source and interpret accurate data as a means of improving their designs – was to cement their legacy in the aviation hall of fame.

So how is this relevant to HR technology?

There are clear parallels between the Wright brothers’ desire for data-driven insight and control, and the modern business leaders’ need for this to enable strategic, technology-assisted HR planning.

In multinational organizations where the modern workforce is often transient, diverse and disparately located, the need for real and credible workforce insight to inform planning and facilitate great employee experiences is greater than ever before. Without it, business leaders simply will not be able to develop tailored workforce management plans that engage and motivate, and people productivity will suffer as a result.

It comes down to a question of flying blind versus flying on instruments but how do you know which of these two categories your company falls into? Ask yourself: How many employees do we have? Which of our best performers are flight risks? What is our biggest retention risk?

If you’re unable to answer one or more of these questions, you may be flying completely blind and you’re not likely to be progressing as quickly as you should, nor as competitively. But trust us, you are also not the only organization in this situation, you are probably among the majority.

The ‘Flying on Instruments’ flight path

The marriage of IT and HR has created new avenues for the modern global organization that allow HR leaders to really see and really understand what is happening across the collective workforce at the touch of a button. Not only this, global cloud HR systems are opening business leaders’ eyes to a whole new era of people potential and talent management which results in the best from their people in the business. While this may still be unchartered skies for many, they can rest assured it will deliver a more proactive, objective, automated and consistent approach to HR for the long term – and the benefits of that in business terms are going to be immense.

In 2016 you should be aiming for the very least in real-time workforce visibility, knowing your numbers rather than management by Excel spreadsheets. Beyond that it’s remarkable what intelligent analytics can start to do for you:

  • Using data, dashboards and charts are able to answer questions in real-time, on demand
  • Deploying ‘people scientists’ will enable you to interrogate, question and explore data, spot trends and identify patterns that are not obvious
  • Using analytics you will be able to understand, explain, predict and model different business scenarios and outcomes
  • Using data will help you to drive top down business decisions regarding people and business growth and direction

Flying in the future

The idea of data-driven insight and control has become widely recognized in 2015 – something that was not the case for Orville and Wilbur Wright in the early 1900s, a factor that makes their ‘ahead-of-the-times’ approach even more impressive.

However, for the rest of us in industry today, making data-driven decisions and proactively managing people should be where business is on autopilot in 2016.

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