The CEOs People Dilemma

11 Apr 2023

How many times have you presented strategies that haven’t worked out as you intended? How many times have you made plans only to realise that you didn’t have the capacity to implement these plans? How many times have you turned to your people and felt frustrated at their lack of motivation, lack of drive or even lack of understanding? How many times have you heard yourself think ‘my people are not up to the task’ or wondered ‘how can I get my people to do this?’


Whichever industry you are in, whatever initiative you are driving and irrespective of how digitised you have become, ultimately your business will depend on the people. It makes sense therefore to take a closer look at your greatest investment and greatest competitive differentiator in the market. It is your people that define you and it is your people that will bring your business goals to light. Yet in reality, how much do we know about our people?


How often do you look at your wage bill on your P&L and wonder why it is increasing? How often do you wonder where this investment is going and what added value it is bringing to your business? Your wage bill is probably your biggest cost. It is also your biggest investment. Yet, how much do you actually know about this cost? How much data have you got in hand to analyse this cost?


The world of people analytics is a relatively old concept yet one that boggles the mind as to how to extract this data and analyse it properly. Beyond the excel formulas and brackets, inverted commas, pivot tables and v-look ups, there is a wealth of information to be explored and analysed. I have always wondered why it comes so naturally to finance driven people to understand a company just by looking at a P&L, yet struggle to explore the data behind their people costs.


In all honesty I do not blame CEOs for this oversight. People are often complicated and difficult to understand. One can be forgiven for thinking this area is best left undiscovered. Yet who wouldn’t want to be given a clear picture of their people in an objective and non-judgemental way? Numbers and dashboards don’t lie. They represent a picture. It’s the information that picture gives us that allows us to make informed decisions. Decisions that are not based on opinion or on gut feeling or even on a whim. Decisions that are taken on fact.


Just imagine what insight you can gain with data that can be extracted from your people analytics. Are your staff on the verge of burnout? Is there a toxic manager in your midst? Are your people abusing of sick leave? Is there a staff member at risk in your company? Are your staff engaged and, if not, why? What is my wage bill projection for the next few years? How sustainable are my teams in the current environment? The list of analytics is extensive. It’s a question of how to obtain this insight.


People data gives you the opportunity to dig beneath the surface of your largest line item – your people. Understanding what’s at play and what decisions are required to maximise this investment will ensure it adds the required value to your business. For, after all, our people are our major competitive advantage.


Author: Mikela Fenech Pace – HR Consultant, Executive & Team Coach

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