Overcoming the “Talent Shortage” With Analytics

by Gilbert Carrara, MD

Despite an enormous pool of unemployed talent looking for work, some of the best and largest companies in the United States (and even worldwide) are consistently unable to find high-quality talent. Why? Across industries, executives and HR leaders are realizing that they are often poorly evaluating employees, leading to undervaluing or mis-valuing their teams.

The tendency to misjudge employees’ value may originate in outdated hiring and performance evaluation methods. A mountain of scholarly literature shows that the intuitive way companies now judge professional potential is rife with snap judgments and hidden biases, rooted in our upbringing or in deep neurological connections that doubtless served us well on the savanna but would seem to have less bearing on the world of work.

A survey by Corporate Executive Board, a research firm in Virginia, showed that 74% of the 500 hiring managers surveyed reported that their most recent hire had a personality “similar to their own.” Another study from Northwestern University that analyzed the recruiting, interviewing and evaluation practices of professionals from elite investment banks, consultancies and law firms concluded that among the most important factors driving their hiring recommendations were shared leisure interests.

More and more organizations are beginning to see how damaging these unscientific methods of evaluation can be for company performance, and big data and analytics providers have responded by developing new solutions specifically designed for talent assessment. For example, Knack, a company funded by Israeli entrepreneur Guy Halfteck, designs tests that examine specific cognitive skills that employer’s desire by drawing on the latest cutting edge behavioral and scientific research. These skills range from pattern recognition to emotional intelligence, risk appetite and adaptability to changing situations.

Google’s understanding of the promise of analytics for talent assessment is probably better than anybody else’s, and the company has been changing its hiring and management practices as a result of its ongoing analyses. For example, Google no longer uses brainteasers in their interviews, because they do not correlate with job success; GPA is not considered for anyone more than two years out of school, for the same reason—the list goes on. But for all of Google’s technological enthusiasm, these same practices are still deeply human. A real, live person looks at every résumé the company receives. Hiring decisions are made by committee and are based in no small part on opinions formed during structured interviews.

While tried-and-true methods of evaluating candidates for the necessary personality traits and culture fit shouldn’t be completely abandoned, HR executives and CEO’s around the globe need to start injecting analytics into their hiring processes and performance management programs. Corporate leaders should be making sure that they are developing and rewarding employee skills and valuing employees who are there to help achieve their organizations’ business goals. By adapting analytics and new methods of assessment, leaders will build higher performing teams with decreased employee turnover and increased employee engagement.


5 Questions Chief Data Officers Must Answer for Effective Results

Battalia Winston partners Walter McGuigan and Joe Carideo recently collaborated with Roy Lowrance, Managing Director of NYU’s Center for Data Science, to contribute an article to FierceRetailIT, “5 Questions Chief Data Officers Must Answer for Effective Results.”

The authors respond to the most pressing challenges for retailers attempting to leverage big data — among them, Think big: What could we accomplish if we had the right data?

Their response: “Big data initiatives often focus on using existing data–data that companies and their partners already collect–and integrating it in new ways to learn more about customers, processes and products. But the most effective big data leaders will be able to tackle a new challenge that we’re calling applications conceptualization–envisioning what could be done if the right data was available. This forethought requires a keen understanding of the business’s objectives and a thorough understanding of what data is available and how it can be collected. Someone with this strategic vision must also be able to straddle the science/R&D and the marketing/sales functions–a critical skill in the new, big-data powered retail and CPG world.”

Read the full article here. 


Terry Gallagher to Speak at NACD on Oct. 16th

On October 16th, Terry Gallagher, President of Battalia Winston, will be speaking at the National Association of Corporate Directors New Jersey Chapter event entitled, “Get The Most Out of Your Compensation Consultants.”

The panel will cover ways in which compensation committee chairs can work most effectively with their compensation consultants. Topics will include:

  • What expectations does a compensation committee set?
  • What relationship does it have with their consultant?
  • In what ways can consultants work effectively with the committee while maintaining independence when they do analysis for   management?

To register, or for more information, click here. 


Battalia Winston Partners Gilbert Carrara and Adam J. Millinger Featured in H&HN Daily

Healthcare practice leaders Gilbert Carrara  and Adam Millinger have co-authored a piece for H&HN Daily, a publication of the American Hospital Association. In their article, Carrara and Millinger explore how leaders with a diversity of experience, a commitment to data-driven thinking, and an entrepreneurial approach will better manage the transformation required by the ACA.

Read the article on H&HN Daily. 


Dale Winston Quoted in Fortune’s “9 Tips to Land Your Dream Job”

Dale Winston, Battalia Winston’s chairwoman and CEO, recently contributed her expertise to Fortune‘s Erika Fry for her article, “9 Tips to Land your Dream Job.”  Fry compiled tips from leading talent experts on  how to “fine-tune your career and land the perfect job—now.”

Here’s an article excerpt and Dale’s tip:

Appoint your own board.

Network, of course, but Dale Winston, chairwoman and CEO of Battalia Winston, an executive search firm, advises people to go further by creating their own personal board of directors made up of trusted professionals they’ve worked with previously. “Identify a group of three or four people you can consult on a regular basis,” says Winston. She recommends casting former bosses, peers, or executive consultants like herself to help you think through questions like “How can I enhance myself?” and “Is this the right time to make a move?”


3 Mission-Critical Application of Big Data in Oil & Gas

Battalia Winston partners John Ebeling and Walter McGuigan recently collaborated with Roy Lowrance, Managing Director of NYU’s Center for Data Science, to study the most critical components of big data for Oil Field Services companies. The three combined their expertise to identify three applications big data leaders (Chief Data Architects, Data Scientists, etc) must understand in order to enable faster, smarter, and more informed decisions within their organizations.

Read the full article on Rigzone. 


Pruning Private Equity Portfolios

Terry Gallagher, President of Battalia Winston, has contributed an article to Financier Worldwide’s Special Report on Private Equity. 

Drawing on his extensive experience helping Private Equity firms identify and recruit talented executives,  Terry discusses the tendency of PE firms to “prune” the  management teams of their portfolio companies (purchasing a company and then replacing  its leadership team) and provides his perspective on the type of leader firms should target in order to achieve high-growth and ensure a speedier ROI. 

Read the full article in Financier Worldwide.


Battalia Winston Survey Finds that 83% of Companies Value A Healthy Work-Life Balance

New York, New York – Battalia Winston, one of the nation’s largest women-owned executive search firms, has published the results of a recent study of senior executives and found that 83% of surveyed companies encourage a healthy work-life balance among their employees.

The national survey included senior executives leading companies of varying sizes, both public and private, in a range of industries. Overall, Battalia Winston found that most companies valuing work-life balance have programs and policies in place to support that stance:

  • 73% offer flexible schedules
  • 66% offer teleworking options
  • 63% have implemented technology, like teleconferencing and video-chat, to reduce required travel

A modest number of responding companies have programs designed to help working parents, with 21% offering maternity leave beyond what’s required by law and only 14% offering paternity leave beyond what’s required by law.

Work-life balance continues to be a dominating topic in the coverage of workplace issues, and the survey’s findings reflect this trend: Just over a third of respondents indicated that their company values work-life balance more so than five years ago, while half of respondents reported that their position has remained the same and existing programs have been maintained (rather than expanded).

The survey also asked leaders about their personal work habits, finding that, even though over half (55%) said they frequently work on either evenings, weekends, or both, nearly 67% are satisfied with their work-life balance.

When asked to elaborate on their satisfaction levels, many respondents characterized late nights and weekends as expected components of managing a company. One CEO commented, “It’s [working nights/weekends] the nature of the job and the digital age. Customers and owners expect that we are more connected.”

Another respondent said that, as an entrepreneur responsible for generating the company’s new business, “there is de facto no limit” to the amount of hours he will work, adding, “We have to make our own choices, based on our individual taste.” Other respondents also connected work-life balance to personal choice. One reported, “This [working evenings/weekends] is both my style and new start up company’s demands.”

The respondents’ comments revealed that many consider work-life balance a continuous process that can ebb and flow over time. One CIO remarked, “I take time as I need it so it balances working any evenings or weekends.” An SVP of HR explained, “I have flexibility in my schedule to ‘work’ evenings and weekends as needed or as I choose.” And another SVP mentioned that her work-life balance, though not perfect, has improved: “I frequently work evenings and occasionally on weekends. I used to work frequently on both and thus I have improved my work-life balance (and therefore am satisfied).”

Of the respondents who were satisfied with their work-life balance, 85% said their companies encourage a healthy work-life balance for their employees and 65% said their companies have at least some programs/policies in place to support that position. On the other hand, only 69% of respondents who were unsatisfied with their personal work-life balance said their companies encouraged a healthy work-life balance for employees.

“Our study confirms that the definition of ‘work-life’ balance continues to be in flux,” says Battalia Winston CEO, Dale Winston. “Executives understand that a healthy work-life balance doesn’t necessarily mean an eight-hour work day. Leaders are beginning to have a more holistic mindset: sometimes you must tip the scales toward work, sometimes toward family or your personal life. They’re thinking overall balance, not measuring the number of hours they spend at their desk, and that mentality is trickling down to the rest of the company.”

About Battalia Winston

Battalia Winston has been successfully meeting client needs in executive recruitment for 50 years and is currently ranked as one of the nation’s 20 largest retained executive search firms, as well as one of the world’s largest woman-owned search firms. Headquartered in New York City, the firm also has offices in New Jersey, Boston, Washington, D.C., Denver, Los Angeles and Chicago. Battalia Winston is an agile and uniquely flexible firm, and their culture is focused on providing highly personalized, responsive client service.


Make Your Company a Magnet for Diversity

While companies like Facebook and Google have committed to improving minority representation, the pool for qualified diverse candidates is still quite small. Companies need to focus on both attracting diverse talent and on retaining current employees, who, as demand for diversity increases, are at risk for being poached by competitors.

In their recent article for Forefront Magazine, Susan Medina and Peter Gomez, Battalia Winston’s Diversity and Inclusion experts, share their recommendations for retaining talent and building sustained diversity.

Read their article on Forefront Magazine’s Blog.


Terry Gallagher Featured on SmartBlog on Leadership

Terry Gallagher, President at Battalia Winston, is featured on SmartBlog on Leadership, discussing the new evolving role of the HR executive in his article “Why CEOs Need a New Breed of HR Leader.”

As businesses become more attuned to the importance of internal culture to recruit and retain talent,  HR leaders must serve as the CEO’s business partner and align their talent-development strategy with overall business imperatives.

Read the complete article on SmartBlog on Leadership.