EP 62: How to Use Data to Make a Big Impact with Rashad Nelms

How to Use Data to Make a Big Impact

There is plenty of data available to help companies answer key questions about their workforce and its needs. However, many businesses are not utilizing this approach for attracting and retaining staff. Instead, many businesses are searching externally for the answers that are available to them internally. So, in this episode, Rashad Nelms, Executive-in-Residence at Indiana University, will be joining the show to discuss how to use data to make an amazing impact within our organizations.

What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode

  • How to use data to improve your organization. (2:40)
  • The benefit of accessing data to bring more diversity into your organization. (8:40)
  • How to use data to help individuals and businesses meet their goals. (12:11)

Actionable Takeaway for HR Professionals:

  • Pay attention to the systems and the processes that you have in place. (16:45)

Actionable Takeaway for Executives:

  • In order to leverage data, there has to be a commitment. (15:50)

Ideas Worth Sharing

“Data can give you insight, when used strategically and correctly, into the problem areas {within your organization}.” - Rashad Nelms Click To Tweet

Resources In Today’s Episode

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Click Here for Audio Transcript

Traci Scherck: Welcome to talent optimization and today we are going to talk about how we attract and retain staff into our organizations, however, we have a fun little twist on this we’re going to talk about data.

Traci Scherck: And how we really utilize data in order to attract and retain staff, and let me tell you a data can be used in so many different ways.

Traci Scherck: And the data will always tell the story, as long as you don’t do it, so I have an amazing guest with me today rashad nelms is joining me from a number of different places, actually, but he is currently the executive in residence.

Traci Scherck: At indiana university and one of the things that rashad brings with him is.

Traci Scherck: Working with United Nations over several different years and I will let him tell you that story and then we’re going to dig into data and how we use it and how we can use it to really make amazing impacts inside of our organizations.

Rashad Nelms: Well, thanks Tracy for the introduction and thanks for having me a pleasure being here, love the podcast love the work that you’re doing and the insight that you’re sharing with your audience, so please keep it up.

Rashad Nelms: As you mentioned i’m currently working as one of several most active in residence with with indiana university, specifically the office of the Vice President for diversity and equity and multicultural affairs.

Rashad Nelms: And in addition to that work with several other institutional clients throughout the throughout the world, and then.

Rashad Nelms: i’m currently on sabbatical for the United Nations World Food program where I worked for 17 years and more than 20 countries so it’s been a pretty fascinating professional Arc.

Rashad Nelms: That hopefully we can we can discuss as we talked about data.

Traci Scherck: yeah absolutely so i’m curious because I you’ve played in the HR realm you’ve played in some executive coaching realms.

Traci Scherck: How has.

Traci Scherck: Data been used both harmfully and hopefully or employees in the organization seaforth that.

Rashad Nelms: data has been great in the sense that it can give you insight when used correctly and strategically.

Rashad Nelms: And to where the problem areas are or where there are some opportunities for strengthening right so, for instance, they can reveal where there are some inadequacies in terms of.

Rashad Nelms: hiring processes are we getting enough, why are we getting enough people of color into mid manager and senior executive positions, for instance, or why is it that we’re able to.

Rashad Nelms: were unable, or we are able to get pools of high quality individuals into the applicant pool, but then we’re not selecting them right, so it can be incredibly useful for uncovering that kind of those kind of things, the downside is is that.

Rashad Nelms: As you mentioned, people can skew data to fit their narrative right without fully.

Rashad Nelms: appreciate the nuances right, so a person might say, well you know we don’t get enough of xyz candidates and it’s because we just don’t they’re just not enough people so.

Rashad Nelms: that’s one way of looking at the data we can dig deeper, and we can explore did you reach out for us to historically black colleges and universities.

Rashad Nelms: To see if there are talented individuals there did you look at sororities or fraternities did you look at people, in other words, beyond your immediate facility or your network and the data was.

Rashad Nelms: That this is totally acceptable.

Rashad Nelms: Totally uncomfortable, however, for those HR officials and senior executives in particular who are committed to their organization or institution success isn’t company that they do that because that’s, the only way that we’re going to get the best out of the best.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely, you know, and when we look at this let’s talk about you know recruiting here for a second.

Traci Scherck: You know, when we look at that there’s so many ways, you know.

Traci Scherck: So much of it is outreach and we know that the number one source of of hires inside of our organization is our own staff right and knowing that and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it also means that hey if we know that we that we want to attract.

Traci Scherck: A different group of individuals, then guess what we have to consciously make certain choices, as to what that is.

Traci Scherck: You know.

Traci Scherck: You mentioned one which is you know reaching out into whether it’s historically black colleges and university, is whether it is different demographic groups, one of the.

Traci Scherck: Things that we you know learned at an organization that I had worked out, we had found that hey we were you know we were serving almost 80% minority populations, but yet guess what about 80% of the staff were Caucasian so they were non minority.

Traci Scherck: And so, when you look at that it was okay So what do we want to do here we’re recruiting individuals and we’re clearly not recruiting from the right pockets and.

Traci Scherck: So I started asking our clients where should I go recruit.

Traci Scherck: And their responses I loved so their responses were Tracy you need to go create really strong relationships with the African American churches in town.

Traci Scherck: And you need to build the like no trust right.

Traci Scherck: And then the other was from our Hispanic staff, they said hey Tracy actually Mexican grocery stores like what.

Rashad Nelms: they’re like yeah.

Traci Scherck: Because it’s very, very Community based goal posts things there.

Traci Scherck: i’m like Okay, so we did that and we started to see a shift in the applicants that were coming in right.

Traci Scherck: So it’s not just hey we’re not getting it it’s where you’re going to do it, and then you know, putting some things in place so, for example, our listeners know predictive index right.

Traci Scherck: So using some things like predictive index to say hey we’re going to bring it in and and do an interview with every single person that has a match score of a seven or above on the predictive.

Traci Scherck: index, and if this if you don’t know what this is, I will have a predictive index link that’s you know, in the show notes that you can click on and we can.

Traci Scherck: chat more about this, however, you know but naming and saying no matter what, if there’s a match score of seven or above to a position we’re going to interview interview you.

Traci Scherck: No matter what allows us to take that bias out of it because it’s.

Rashad Nelms: Exactly, and what I love about everything that you said, one of the things I loved the most was that it went beyond an individual effort.

Rashad Nelms: And it was institutionalized and so the trigger was if there was a seven or higher, then this responsible to occur.

Rashad Nelms: is not necessarily left up to an individual whether it’s a manager HR whomever to make the determination so that means that anytime that into an applicant hit that score, the response was triggered which I think is critical.

Rashad Nelms: Critical absolutely.

Traci Scherck: The other thing we did is we went beyond our current stuff to recruit.

Traci Scherck: And that was something that I think was really important, you know so when we look at data it’s not just saying hey you know what we’re not bringing in as many applicants it’s all looking at data to say, are we bringing in higher quality applicants.

Rashad Nelms: And then, using that same data to determine.

Rashad Nelms: How can we put them once they’re selected into places where they will succeed or how can we get the most out of them right.

Rashad Nelms: Right, because what we may find is is that whether it’s assigned a mentor whether it is a training Program.

Rashad Nelms: there’s not going to be a panacea, or one size fits solution, however, you can use that data to figure out Okay, so the individual that we brought in, is really great in writing.

Rashad Nelms: Or maybe they’re not so we can supplement that with a writing training or maybe their long term aspirations professional aspirations are to become a senior executive so maybe we meant to we connect them with a mentor who has a similar route.

Traci Scherck: Right right right.

Rashad Nelms: But you got to use data.

Traci Scherck: Yes, and this gets really to that retention piece right.

Traci Scherck: Which is what does that individual want what are those pathways inside your organization, are you making them known right so often as organizations, we have these great town pathways in our head, but we don’t tell the person that they’re on it.

Rashad Nelms: Exactly right that there is what it is like you said, like we.

Rashad Nelms: Think about mine is that, how do we make sure that those tracks or that those processes are as accessible right as possible to different groups yeah.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely and.

Traci Scherck: guess what For those of you out there going man, we don’t collect any of this data it’s not here it’s there you need.

Traci Scherck: to dig it and actually go pull it out, so you know.

Traci Scherck: My story here.

Traci Scherck: I.

Traci Scherck: You know in this organization, one of the things so we were in a three or cultural competency kind of journey essentially.

Traci Scherck: And one of the things that we looked at was you know we’re not really.

Traci Scherck: Promoting you know minority isn’t, why is that so I took I sat down and I started digging through all of the interview notes and figuring out why right.

Traci Scherck: So the data is there, it may just be hard to uncover so i’ll just name it right um and really figuring out why you know why are we not promoting individuals.

Rashad Nelms: And what we found out were two key things.

Traci Scherck: And when I tell you the answer to this you’re gonna be like oh my gosh that’s so easy but we didn’t.

Traci Scherck: write so much of this is, are you willing to see the answer that’s right in front of you.

Traci Scherck: Exactly, and so one of them was what.

Traci Scherck: We for so so many of these positions didn’t feel that these individuals had the the writing or the speaking skills to be in manager or leadership positions and then the second thing was that there was a lack.

Traci Scherck: of technology, the.

Traci Scherck: Lack of using excel or the lack of using word.

Traci Scherck: And i’m like actually, but these can be pretty easy fixes.

Traci Scherck: They have the drive they have the.

Traci Scherck: passion, they have the connections, they have the knowledge or just things that hey it’s like taking a stone and like you know.

Traci Scherck: Offering it a little bit to get it to where we want it to go on, so we connected with our local technical college we brought in some some training and you know I just.

Traci Scherck: kind of went around attack folks on the shoulder and said hey you know that this training, you want to go and do it, I think, should I can.

Traci Scherck: On number shifted after that but.

Traci Scherck: it’s using the data to say what’s happening here.

Traci Scherck: yeah and.

Traci Scherck: You know, really paying close attention to look at your turnover data it’s so telling.

Rashad Nelms: You know.

Traci Scherck: But don’t just look at what’s on the surface really look at what’s underneath it.

Rashad Nelms: Exactly, and you know could be looking at our data is also looking at you know, perhaps conducting exit interviews.

Rashad Nelms: is looking at interviewing or speaking with individuals who didn’t necessarily meet the threshold figure out Okay, are there, what are some issues, there are there’s some trends that we noticed.

Rashad Nelms: And I would say more practical thing, more importantly, but I think, for your listeners, particularly those who are in positions.

Rashad Nelms: of formal positions of leadership, who can effectuate this institutional change that we were discussing there has to be a commitment right, and I think that’s what you and and others within this that institution show right and we need more of that.

Traci Scherck: Right and.

Traci Scherck: So you’re like I won’t take credit for this, because it was not.

Rashad Nelms: Right, but you just as easily could have been a thorn in the side, you could have created a set of obstacles, but you did right, and so it really flows down, then it starts at the top, and it continues spread throughout an institution, but it has to start at the top.

Traci Scherck: Right, and I think the other thing with data and with what you just stated, you have to be curious about it.

Traci Scherck: You know.

Traci Scherck: Yes.

Traci Scherck: i’m sorry, so what these numbers are telling me because that’s going to lead to the creativity and things that are right in front of you going Oh, I know, see it right.

Rashad Nelms: Exactly and quite simply.

Traci Scherck: So what what I was curious about is you know you’ve worked around the world, with United Nations, and you know people are people and i’m curious about you know how you use data to really further.

Traci Scherck: Individuals meeting their personal goals but also businesses meeting their business objectives.

Rashad Nelms: Well it’s.

Rashad Nelms: The way i’ve done it has not necessarily use formal data it’s been personal observations right and and discussions for me to realize that let’s say if i’m dealing with someone from a specific country or region of the world that they may respond more.

Rashad Nelms: quickly to a one on one conversation right in which i’m able to glean from them, what are your aspirations right, and then I can figure out.

Rashad Nelms: You know, can you send me a writing sample so I can determine how good of a writer, you are or, can you tell me a little bit about your network.

Rashad Nelms: And through that one on one discussion is less embarrassing is on their terms is consistent with whatever the cultural norms may be for an individual, I can then.

Rashad Nelms: leverage my expertise to assist them right, whereas in other instances, it might be doing something as simple as.

Rashad Nelms: Recognizing them in front of their colleagues right that can be enough to to light that fire that thing continues throughout their their amazing career right so Those are just a few of the ways, but it all started with me paying attention.

Rashad Nelms: Right and also paying attention to what I was feeling to say something’s off.

Rashad Nelms: can’t put my finger on it, let me, let me, let me, let me test out their hypothesis, let me go and ask or let me.

Rashad Nelms: Look at the performance reviews, let me, let me, let me verify the accuracy of their offices and then from there, making a calculated decision on how I was going to approach and engage.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely, and I think one of the things with data that we don’t always think about is, we have to ask right.

Traci Scherck: Yes, ask, in order to collect that.

Rashad Nelms: And one thing is that.

Traci Scherck: We have done is um you know, first of all for clients whatever is when someone’s higher we actually have them fill out a new hire questionnaire, which is as silly, as you know what beverage do you like to drink.

Rashad Nelms: During the workday.

Traci Scherck: During the workday on to that.

Traci Scherck: Exactly.

Traci Scherck: Exactly um because, otherwise, you might get back in the middle of the workday right and.

Traci Scherck: It may not be appropriate, however um but, but then like what’s your favorite snack into you know why did you choose our organization and.

Traci Scherck: You know what is your goal in the first three months in the first year.

Traci Scherck: And then you know, using a slightly different questionnaire.

Traci Scherck: it’s really about them.

Traci Scherck: We do a lot of check ins with you know climate surveys and exit interviews and stay interviews.

Traci Scherck: But do you are you consistently collecting data on your staff it’s really about their goals and that alignment with the goals of the organization.

Rashad Nelms: Exactly exactly into kind of piggyback off that is also asking questions of When are they at their best.

Rashad Nelms: Right, what does that look like, is it when they’re working by themselves, is it when they’re working on a single piece of a project is it when is it morning afternoon, in other words.

Rashad Nelms: that’s the future I think of employment, particularly globally, is going to be much more about creating or tailoring experiences to our employees.

Rashad Nelms: So the institutions that can do that more quickly and more effectively will arguably be more profitable and be more sustainable.

Rashad Nelms: yeah.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely so as we kind of start to land the plane here with this what’s the key takeaway that you have for executives listing into our conversation today.

Rashad Nelms: I always say in order to leverage data there has to be a commitment.

Rashad Nelms: that’s number one that probably the main takeaway and then number two or part two of that is it’s going to feel uncomfortable because it is uncomfortable.

Rashad Nelms: Right, you are challenging proactively challenging long held assumptions challenging long health behaviors.

Rashad Nelms: And is going to feel uncomfortable because it also means that the equilibrium that you’ve known for so much of your life is suddenly thrown into disarray, and so it’s going to be incumbent upon that leader to figure out ways to.

Rashad Nelms: create a new kind of stability, but one where you’re leveraging data to get the most out of your personnel.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely, and then, what would your key takeaway be for our HR professionals listening in today.

Rashad Nelms: I always say that within reason right.

Rashad Nelms: Question or an.

Rashad Nelms: analyze pay closer attention to the systems and the processes that you have in place right because they are reflections of the biases both you know unconscious as well as conscious that we bring to bear.

Rashad Nelms: And so, if you really want data to be used effectively.

Rashad Nelms: you’ve got to look at what already exists, how are the system setup to figure out where there might be opportunities to collect data what currently identify the type of data that you want to collect the frequency look at your systems and your processes right.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely so I have a question.

Rashad Nelms: Is it data.

Traci Scherck: Or is it data because.

Rashad Nelms: You know exactly I don’t know I wish I.

Traci Scherck: Were chatting today i’m like I keep seeing data and you keep saying data and i’m like I don’t know which ones right whatever.

Rashad Nelms: Exactly potato potato.

Rashad Nelms: Potato potato.

Traci Scherck: Oh what’s that Thank you so much for joining us today, and if you are curious.

Traci Scherck: About rashad I have his information in the show notes, and you know, we do have a keynote here at elevated telling consulting on, you know how to use that to create powerhouse teams really kind of talking about this specific topic and.

Traci Scherck: So we can’t wait to chat with you next week, and with that Thank you so much for joining us and have a great rest of your day.