An interactive introduction to the stories HR data can tell

People Analytics 101

An interactive introduction to the stories HR data can tell.

Welcome back to our discussion on People Analytics. We wrote an introduction to this series in our recent blog articles Part 1: An Introduction to People Data and Part 2: The Analytics Gap and Storytelling with HR Data. If you haven’t read those articles yet, I’d suggest giving them a quick read now. 

Our team have been working in the strategic human resources field since 1998. Our goal is to empower human resources and line executives with the same robust business (people) intelligence that is used to make financial, operational, and marketing decisions. Our business is founded on a robust talent process, driven through insightful talent analytics and powered by employee-centric technology. We hope to share some of our people analytics lessons with you during this series People Analytics 101. We use Tableau as our data visualisation tool of choice, but there are many other tools available. We use Tableau Online, but you can get started with Tableau Desktop or Tableau Public for free. Workbooks and data formats for the dashboards in this People Analytics 101 series are available for you to download and create working visualisations with your own data.

Chapter 1.


Chapter 2.

Combining two data points

Chapter 3.

The misunderstood 9-block matrix

Chapter 4.

Turning Analytics into Action

Chapter 1.

A Talent Segmentation Methodology

Why use talent segments?

1. Each segment has a certain set of conditions and these create specific challenges for an individual and the organisation. 

2. Segments help us to allocate resources to people in a way that is relevant, useful and timeous. 

3. Segments allow us to examine similar groups of people and extract insights. 

What are talent segments?​

Segmentation is a method of differentiating talent based on multiple, ideally objective and easily accessible criteria that offers more insight than using just one criteria like level or grade. If these criteria are all objective, then people can be automatically assigned to these segments as they progress and their circumstances change.

This data will use criteria to assign people into a segment. 

  • Performance
  • Age
  • Role: People or Process Manager (determined by the number of direct reports) 
  • Organisational level: Grades from 14-21 (21 being the highest)
  • Career Trajectory (Age vs Level) 


Chapter 1.

The fun stuff

Right below you’ll find a working dashboard that you can use to interact with our talent segmentation data. Use the filters on the top right to narrow down the data set, and click around within the dashboard to discover more detail. Please note that although mobile friendly dashboards are available for our clients, this example will work best on desktop.

Talent Segmentation by PeopleTree Group

Chapter 2.

Combining two data points to create a matrix

Two readily accessible data points in most organisations are tenure (time with company) and age. The best way to find out the meaning of a data point is to ask “So What?”

So What?


So what if someone has been here less than 5 years? 

The longer you spend in a company the more likely you are to understand it’s business, products, people, culture, mistakes, initiatives, policies, practices, strategies, customers, suppliers, technology and the list goes on


So what if someone is older than 55? ​

When someone is coming the the mandatory end of their career, that is the time that they have the most experience to offer and the shortest time to offer it. Losing valuable skills and knowledge can cripple a business so retirement represents a risk to the business in terms of lost knowledge and experience. ​

Chapter 2.

The fun stuff

Now that we combine these two data points, we create 4 combinations.
Go ahead and explore them in the below storyboard.

Institutional Knowledge vs Retirement Risk

Chapter 3.

The much misunderstood 9 block matrix

When the 9 cell performance/potential grid is populated accurately, it can help to predict the demand for leadership talent in a business or specific function. 

By looking at the distribution of people across the matrix, and comparing that to the rate of growth (or decline) that the business or function is, or will be, experiencing, you can manage your investment in leadership development to either accelerate or reduce the number of leaders it produces. 

If the demand for talent grows faster than the supply then a leadership vacuum is created and this results in people being promoted before they are ready, which usually results in failure. 

By there is an important factor to take into consideration. Promotability is not potential. 

Potential (Learning Agility) is a measure of the speed with which someone can grow and tackle significantly new challenges successfully. Promotability is the readiness of the person to move up 1 or more levels. Potential is a series of attributes that stay relatively consistent over time. Promotability can change every 2 – 4 years.

So if potential has been used for placement in the matrix, then the following distributions can be used to predict the demand for leadership talent and compare that to the actual percentage of leaders that are in various areas. 

So what should your distribution be? 


The ideal distribution is shown on each matrix here with the rate of growth indicated below

Example 1

If the business/function is in a relatively constant and predictable growth environment that is stable, there is no need to have more than 15% of leaders in the top right hand zone. The rate of growth of leaders will match the demand created by the rate of change in the environment. 

Example 2

If the business/function is in negative growth environment, and this may be for a number of factors, e.g. technlogy is reducing the need for headcount, the customer base for a particular product or service is declining, then there is no reason to have more than 5% – 10% of leaders in the top right hand zone. Too many leaders in this context will lead to the loss of talent because there will be nowhere for them to go. 

Note: These distribution ideals are more relevant to functional areas than to an entire business, but can be used for multi-national business that need to manage different rates of growth in different regions or countries. 

Chapter 3.

The fun stuff

Dynamic 9-cell dashboards can reduce the preparation time for talent reviews. When connected to live databases like our own Talent Manager System, they also ensure more current and accurate data and allow far greater mid-presentation agility. These dynamic 9-cell dashboards also allow for easy cross-function/business comparison of relative distribution. If you’ve been following this series, you should be familiar with these dashboards. Use the filters and graphs below to interact with this example data set.

Interactive 9-cell Example

Chapter 4.

Turning Analytics into Action

It all comes down to what you do with what you know

People analytics can create value by answering questions and by stimulating questions that can lead to deeper insights and a more competitive workforce. However, people analytics can also be used to encode “smart” knowledge and recommend actions based on the insights it provides. Analytics without action is useless. 

Ultimately you want each manager to allocate resources in a way that is effective, and that means knowing who needs what and when do they need it. The storyboard below consolidates the information we have explore so far in Chapters 1 – 3 and makes recommendations based on various data points for each individual. 

Chapter 4.

Make every manager an expert coach

TalentTalker is a PeopleTree Group product designed to help line managers be more effective. TalentTalker gives them the vocabulary they need to have better performance, career and development conversations. Watch the 2 minute video to find out more.

Chapter 4.

The fun stuff

Interact with the dashboard below and challenge yourself to interpret the data critically. Ask the questions and discover answers you never knew you needed.

Development Dashboard

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