When you need more than ‘a hunch’

Acting on a hunch – it’s something we often do, and sometimes with positive results. But what happens when you present your ‘hunch’ in the Boardroom? What about when you meet with your Leadership Team at your annual meeting, deliver your 3-year talent strategy and back it up with your hunch? Does it hold up?

As we know, sometimes it can work. But wouldn’t your confidence be boosted before even stepping into that meeting if your arguments were backed up by facts?

Presenting the truth, backed by data, is much more compelling – even if it’s not what people want to hear. There’s no greater rationale for change than delivering a fact-based argument. It gives you the confidence to make your case, and your stakeholders the confidence to act.

Let’s play this out in a role-play situation. In both examples, our fictitious Head of Talent has prepared an update for key stakeholders on attracting and retaining talent. [I’m adding a disclaimer here! Example 1 is by no means meant to offend the excellent Heads of Talent I’ve had the pleasure of encountering over the years – or those I don’t know! I’m just simplifying the scenario for the purpose of making my point!).

Example 1 – without research and data:

Talent Director: “I have a feeling our employees aren’t recommending us as a great place to work within their peer groups as much as they might – which means we’re missing a huge opportunity to recruit new talent”.

Board response might include: “How do you know this? Do we know which levels / teams are least likely to recommend us as a place to work? How does that compare to our competitors?”

Talent Director: “I’ve heard comments and feedback from people recently, and our recruitment agency costs have increased.”

Board response: “Can you provide us with more solid examples, so that we can look to take action? We know this is important, but would like to better understand the impact.”

Example 2 – same scenario, with research and data:

Talent Director: “Last quarter’s employee engagement survey told us that 64% of our current staff would recommend us as a place to work to their friends/peer group. Digging deeper, this number was lower among mid-level managers. I’ve compared this to our Top 10 competitors, and as an example, Glassdoor shows that 87%* of employees/former employees at Google would recommend working there to a friend. We are looking deeper into the survey results for some specifics, and will work with Managers and teams to improve this. This will increase our talent search pool at the same time as reducing recruitment agency spend.”

Board response: “That’s great insight. Let’s prioritise this to ensure we’re fully understanding the reasons. As we all know, attracting and retaining the best talent is critical.”

Note that this could of course be applied in any scenario – I’m just using Talent as I recently had a conversation about it! 

So whether it’s an internal meeting, an external pitch, or you need to arm yourself with the right information to do your job… Amy Cuddy’s power pose** will get you so far, but it’s research and data that will give you the real confidence you need.

So do get in touch if you’d like to talk about how research and data can help you. I work with clients to give them the confidence to act out their hunches – turning their data into a compelling narrative.

Sources: (* Glassdoor, Google overview, Aug 2019)

(**Amy Cuddy, ‘Your body language may shape who you are’, TEDGlobal 2012)

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