HR and business leaders have increasingly more data at their disposal thanks to predictive analytics and personnel monitoring. One Deloitte study revealed over 70% of surveyed organizations are investing more in people analytics, as data shows it improves business performance.

Predicting behavior gives HR the information to make data-driven decisions from the first point of contact with employees. Many platforms begin the data collection during the hiring process through recruitment assessments, then onboarding interviews, performance reviews, and team and leadership feedback.

That information plays into your company’s relationship with and decisions regarding each employee, including team formation, managerial policies, and personal development opportunities. Behavioral prediction helps you better understand your workforce so you can match the right managers to your personnel, define success metrics across roles, and provide multiple avenues for professional development.

Collect and maintain data

Most HR teams already have some behavioral data on employees. However, mapping personalities and behaviors across your organization enables you to align behavior with role expectations, performance, management preferences, and development. You can collect this data in several ways, but the three most common methods are behavioral interviewing, performance reviews, and personality tests.

Behavioral interviewing

Behavioral interviewing is considered a standard technique in recruitment. While this approach requires people trained to interpret the results, over 50% of surveyed senior HR staff planned to keep using behavioral interviewing.

Most importantly, while it’s often your first touch point with a candidate, you should continue interviewing at regular intervals (e.g., six months, annually, every two years). Provided you have the infrastructure to store data, it can give insight into why people make certain decisions, their behavior, and their attitude towards the company.

Performance reviews

Most performance reviews (especially 360-degree feedback) incorporate some level of behavioral analysis. Combine formal reviews (e.g., with matrices) and casual feedback solicitation to gather a comprehensive picture of your employees. That information then informs your databases as to employee work ethic, leadership traits, communication skills, interpersonal relationship management, time management, and more. From there, you can tailor performance questions to target certain abilities and collect more robust data that, in turn, will guide your business decisions.

Personality tests

Personality and behavioral tests can help fill in the blanks in roles and teams, but most only reveal indications and tendencies rather than exact types. For example, the FIRO-B personality assessment delivers a high level of repeatability. It also maps to behaviors measured in the Benchmarks 360-degree feedback tool, meaning you can use personality testing to group behavior types by leadership style, work methodology, and managerial philosophy. You can combine it with another behavioral profiling tool as well, depending on what your organization has available.

Before you launch these assessments though, you need to implement a way to collect and retain this data, connect it to employee profiles, and integrate it with people analytics so you can use it for other business and managerial decisions. In some cases, HR can also rely on these tests, as well as simulations and group dynamic assessments, but again, that requires investing in the necessary tools, so consider your budget before jumping on the personality test bandwagon.

Apply predictive analytics

Behavioral mapping allows you to correlate employee behaviors to their performance. You can do this individually, which allows you to pinpoint high-value behaviors. Or, you can create group behaviors to hone in on how people are alike across roles and how similar profiles function in different types of roles.

For instance, does behavioral success look the same for most positions? Do people who succeed in one role struggle in another? Various metrics and achievements constitute “success” in any given position, so, rather than generating one profile that aligns with every role, you should build a general overview using pieces assembled from your employees.

That behavioral mapping can then predict potential barriers to success, uncover what makes people succeed in their roles, and highlight behavior gaps. If you know what strong leadership looks like, you can open opportunities to progress people who match those profiles. Or, if you know you have a change initiative coming up and behavioral mapping shows a lack of change management or adaptability, you can take preemptive steps to correct the issue before the initiative begins.

Align managerial styles and personnel

Whether you use DISC, FIRO-B, Management Behavior Profile, or other behavioral profiles, these predictive analysis tools can help you match managerial styles to employee communication and work methodologies. In some cases, that may be as simple as ensuring leaders and managers are aware of the differences between how people work and approach their responsibilities. At other times, it involves assigning people to teams based on their behavioral profiles.

For example, you may want more detail- and task-oriented individuals on maintenance teams where you can hand them a to-do list and leave them to it, with management priorities based on work completed. On the other hand, people who are more creative and result driven may be better off in roles where they’re asked to produce specific outcomes. Management would then facilitate their progress (measured based on total outcomes).

These intra-organizational differences can introduce complexities in performance analytics. However, people can (and do) work in different ways and take varying paths to be successful. If you understand how that aligns across your organization, you’ll consistently assign the right people to the right role.

Introduce soft skills development

Behavioral mapping reveals what behaviors are present in your organization, what competencies are needed, and why. As a result, you can:

  • Identify behaviors and personality traits that contribute to performance and productive teamwork
  • Promote the development of positive behaviors through workshops, coaching, and mentoring
  • Hire or train to fill behavioral gaps in teams
  • Create professional development opportunities for employees

To realize this potential, you can construct on-demand learning platforms, such as digital learning portals, to help people develop the basis for soft skills. However, behaviors are notoriously difficult to train for and may require workshops, coaching, and long-term follow-ups to ensure your workforce nurtures and applies them.

You’ll also need a way to track who enrolls, how consistent they are with the training or programs, and how their performance or behavior changes over time. With that data, you can then predict when people might need help incorporating their training into their day-to-day work routines.

Understand why people work the way they do

Behavioral analytics gives you insight into how to improve employee behavior, provide people opportunities for professional development, and match managerial styles to personnel. It also allows HR to understand why people work the way they do. For example, if someone has a poor performance year for the first time, behavioral analysis can help you hone in on the reason for it. People analytics relies on those same metrics to predict low performance based on factors like engagement, motivation, time management, etc., allowing you to remediate before performance reviews take place.

Understanding how behavior contributes to work performance helps you make better judgment calls when offering training, remediation, or rehabilitation. It also improves how you approach people and guides decisions about hiring, training, and role placement.

HR’s pool of valuable data is expanding, so it’s important to combine the information you already have with analytics to create predictive modeling that’s accurate and robust. Your organization can then confidently forecast when people will perform well, when they’ll need training or remediation, if they’re strong candidates for leadership, and other performance metrics — creating a more productive and loyal workforce.

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick