By Steve Moran

I read something a few weeks ago where the author made the point that using spreadsheets to manage teams is a horrible, dehumanizing way to lead. It is too easy for organizations to treat employees as liabilities or cost centers — little more than machines that, if not performing correctly, need to be either fixed or replaced. And often, the decision-making formula says replacement is easier than fixing.

It was something that really resonated with me, and I made a note to write an article.

And Then …

While at the Senior Living Innovation Forum, I attended a presentation by Stephanie Harris, the CEO of Arrow Senior Living, where she talked about how they are aggressively and successfully using data to better understand and manage their business.

The broad focus was why they decided to hire their own data scientists and create their own dashboards and reporting systems.

One of the things she said was that they are using data to evaluate team members’ effectiveness, and by using that data, they discovered they had some team members they needed to part ways with.

The Light Went On

I got to thinking about my time working in Silicon Valley. There was a CEO I worked for at a couple of companies who took this one product manager, Larry, with him every time he moved companies. This CEO was super successful, but Larry was terrible at what he did. Though he was really good at one thing, and that was kissing up to the boss.

In truth we have some people we work for — or more importantly who work for us — who we simply like a lot. And others who do a good job but we don’t have much of a feeling for. And maybe even a few, in bigger organizations, who we actually don’t like all that much, even if they are doing a good job.

If you have people in that first category, it is really easy to be blinded and not actually take a look at whether they are actually contributing to the organization in a meaningful way. This is where data can really help you figure out what is best for your organization.

I Am Not Suggesting

Metrics are not everything, but they should be a significant part of the equation. If the metrics suggest a problem, it needs to be looked at seriously, no matter how much you like that person.

  • They may need some help in order to be great.
  • They might be the right person but in the wrong job.
  • They might not have the tools they need to do a good job.
  • The job may no longer need doing — or doing in the same way.

Data can help you be a better leader in so many ways, including in managing teams.