People Analytics



What they tell us about ourselves and others

In recent issues of Western Equipment Dealer, there has been an emphasis on employee needs by dealerships and how to get the right person for the right job.

Dealers have told the association what jobs need to be filled and the difficulty they’ve experienced in finding people who not only want those jobs, but have the skill set to perform as mid-level managers.

One of the weapons in the association’s arsenal of programs, products and services is the Dealer Institute. By definition, the Dealer Institute “is an all-inclusive integrated approach to training, development, and consulting designed to help our customers achieve operational excellence and long-term success.”

The DI’s goal is to be a trusted advisor to dealers and their “first choice for business strategy, leadership, and employee development in the equipment industry.”

In each issue of the magazine, Kelly Mathison writes about numbers related to financial performance in his column “Top Metrics to Watch.”

Dr. Larry Cole also writes about numbers, but in a different way. His numbers are related to people and he uses analytics to determine how effective employees are and the value they bring to equipment dealerships or any other business.

Cole recently authored a white paper, “People Analytics,” that challenges traditional thinking that employee performance is too often measured by a person’s technical skills. He says the analytics – or numbers – used to track technical skills should also be used when it comes to employee growth.

“In the 15+ years that I’ve been working in this industry, the unanimous conclusion within the classes I have taught has been that people represent a dealership’s most valued asset for the obvious reason: Without people you have nothing… no business,” writes Cole.

But that “unanimous conclusion” sends another thought spinning around in Dr. Cole’s mind. “If people are a dealership’s most valued asset, then why aren’t dealers using analytics to monitor employee growth as they do with the technical metrics?”

Cole says he has not met a dealer who isn’t interested in creating a high-performance and profitable dealership. He cautions, however, that achieving some goals comes with a price, which is yet another number. That price, notes Cole, requires time, hard work, and following good business practices with employees.

Pulling the pieces together

While Cole says dealerships use management accountability systems to review financial and technical metrics, he says the addition of people analytics should be included also. But, cautions Cole, “there is no sense asking your employees to participate in people analytics if it’s unlikely their input is used.” Simply, asking for something and ignoring the responses could have negative consequences.

The addition of people analytics does require data collection… and dealers would have to develop a plan to put whatever data they receive to use. Cole says the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. He acknowledges that having a software program would make data collection easier, but he says the use of “paper and pencil” is still meaningful.

Cole suggests that dealers collect employee input at least once a quarter if not monthly.

He adds that dealers should not overreact to this suggestion “because monitoring the results of one question over time is better than doing nothing or armchair theorizing. What is most important is that the management structure review the data on a regular basis and put the data to work.”  

The reward of people analytics and employee engagement

Depending on management styles and the system used to measure employee attitudes, Cole writes that organizations “with high employee engagement outperform their competitors” that reject employee engagement.

He says engaged organizations see three noticeable characteristics in their employees: 1) the physical intensity of their effort put into their daily work, 2) the emotional engagement as measured by their energy level put into their work, and 3) the cognitive effort or degree of being focused on their work.

Finally, Cole says employee engagement and measuring results is not as challenging as some people think. “It simply means to create a process whereby you systemically ask your employees a question to measure their engagement” with your business and the management team.

He says dealers could learn a lot by asking their employees these three simple questions:   

  • Does your work allow you to do what you do best every day?
  • Does your work challenge you to do your very best?
  • Do you feel that you make a positive difference for the company?

Cole’s white paper on People Analytics also includes how dealers could adapt the popular Net Promoter Score to learn whether workers recommend their employers to family and friends.

There are quite a few steps to consider when it comes to people analytics, but committing to a system that provides results over time could make your dealership a place where work is performed at high level and not just a place to collect a paycheck.

WEDA encourages dealers to read “People Analytics” to learn 1) a management accountability process to put numbers into perspective, and 2) examples of people analytics dealers can monitor.

To download a copy of “People Analytics,” visit the Dealer Institute at




Article Written by WEDA Staff


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