3 powerful reasons to collect and apply behavioral data

by: David Silbert– Guardian, Guest Columnist, The Predictive Index

Think about the best company you’ve ever worked for—a place where the mission was energizing, the work was gratifying, and the talent was world-class. Now, imagine how your current employees might answer the same question. 

Would your answers align?

Every professional wishes to find their “dream organization.” Yet those organizations are coveted for a reason; award-winning cultures are tough to find, and even tougher to join.

The good news? You can build a stellar workplace for your people—anytime, anywhere. Advancements in industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology have granted leaders new strategies to motivate and manage talent. And these advancements tend to revolve around one particularly exciting tool:

Behavioral data.

“By analyzing behavioral data, leaders learn what makes their teams tick. More importantly, they’re able to apply those learnings—and put their people in position to thrive.”

What is behavioral data?

“Behavioral data” refers to any analytics used to capture employee behavior in the workplace. Scientists and I/O psychologists collect behavioral data to understand what drives employees at work, and why different personalities interact the way they do.

The more behavioral data points you gather, the easier it becomes to demystify employee behaviors. Suddenly, it becomes clear why Sarah and Steve work so well together—and why Mike and Evan struggle to gel.

Why does behavioral data matter?

By analyzing behavioral data, leaders learn what makes their teams tick. More importantly, they’re able to apply those learnings—and put their people in position to thrive. This investment in people can lead to enormous payoffs for the business, and the bottom line. 

The applications are vast, but here are three especially powerful ways behavioral data can supercharge your organization:

1. It cuts down on mis-hires.

Picture a hiring manager’s worst nightmare. You scour scores of resumes, screen some promising applicants, and invite the finalists to a superday. One candidate quickly stands apart from the rest—they have charisma, confidence, and years of experience. 

You deliberate with your team, come to a consensus, and extend an offer. They’re the perfect hire.

Until suddenly they’re not.

What went wrong? The candidate checked all the boxes on paper. You’d naturally assume those credentials would translate to on-the-job performance.

But here’s the reality: Trusting what’s “on paper” is risky. Candidates are so much more than their bullet points on a resume, or where they went to school. Over-index on these factors, and you open yourself up to potential mis-hires.

Behavioral data helps you hire with certainty. Use data to pinpoint which personality types are most likely to excel in a given role, and screen for applicants who exhibit those behavioral tendencies. Hire candidates not solely based on their resume, but on the day-to-day traits that’ll help them succeed.

2. It improves one-on-one relationships.

Everyone has that work colleague who just “gets” them. It could be a fellow team member; it could be a mentor or manager. But when you have that person who understands how you work—and respects how you work—it’s motivating like nothing else.

Now imagine that, spread across an entire organization. When you feel safe to be yourself, no matter who you’re with, it unlocks a whole new world of communication and collaboration. Trust becomes your superpower; everyone becomes your ally.

Unfortunately, many companies struggle to build trusting workplaces. When asked to name the most frequent source of team conflict, 36% of CEOs cited not business issues, but interpersonal issues.

And when employees stop seeing eye to eye, they turn those eyes to the door.

Behavioral data helps unlock healthy work relationships. Use data to understand what drives your peers, and what drives them crazy. Get the tools to have candid one-on-one conversations, and discuss how you can complement one another without stepping on any toes.

Say you manage an employee who, behaviorally speaking, is your exact opposite. You’re steady and methodical; they’re fast-moving. You sweat the details; they skip the details. Faced with risk, you stew on your options for days, while they act within hours (if not minutes).

For many, a relationship like this is rife with tension—it’s easy to clash. But those who leverage behavioral data understand why that tension’s there. By using behavioral tools—such as relationship and coaching guides—you can turn that tension into strength.

Behavioral data helps unlock healthy work relationships.

3. It streamlines team communication.

Even the best teams stumble. Perhaps your sales team missed a quota, or your new product feature fizzled upon release. These setbacks can be disappointing, but they shouldn’t define your team—and they don’t have to.

Often, a “low-performing” team has little to do with actual low performers, and everything to do with how your team members interact. You could have five stellar salespeople on your ship, but if they’re all rowing in different directions, you’re going nowhere.

Behavioral data ensures your team has direction. Use data to visualize how team members like to collaborate, while identifying potential communication gaps. Celebrate each individual’s unique behavioral strengths, and delegate roles and responsibilities that play to those superpowers.