At UNLEASH Amsterdam, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rainer Schlienkamp and Jasmin Wölke from the People Analytics team at Bosch. In the interview, we spoke about how to establish a data-driven mindset, skill management, and various other initiatives at Bosch.
Erik: Welcome, everyone. We’re sitting here at UNLEASH and I’m here with Rainier and Jasmine from the people analytics team at Bosch. I’m really curious to know more about the journey that you’ve been going through at Bosch. Could you start with the process? How has the journey been so far? What have you been doing?
Rainier: So the last years, IT was always a topic we handle in people analytics, but people analytics is not only IT. It’s a mindset because data-driven is not yet a given for our business partners. And so it’s so important that IT is working very well, usable, but also the mindset, the skills, the willingness of each of our business partners also has same importance.
Erik: Yeah, so you need the systems and the people, the capability to take the capabilities to the people.
Erik: What has been the biggest challenge so far in this process?
Rainier: What we have learned is to introduce a tool is one side but it’s acceptance is so important. So you should first do a kind of handhold with key HR business partners and send a waterfall cascade; this works within the organization.
Erik: Yeah, so it’s a process of massaging the data into the business partners, if I’m understanding correctly?
Rainier: Exactly, exactly. This is the main challenge, for us to bring the spark into our organization.
Erik: Yeah, yeah. And I think that’s a challenge that a lot of organizations are running into and we need to fix in the end, also for the larger HR audience. What are the next steps? So you’re saying, “Hey, we’re trying to get our systems aligned, we’re trying to install a data-driven mindset for our business partners,” what will the next step be?
Rainier: There’s so many new technology available which helps business, so it’s very important to help the business instead of only HR. Since years we always do analytics for HR but now the change; give business answers for their questions, this is the main challenge. And there are different use cases, Jasmine can talk about skill management, maybe you say some words about this?
Jasmine: I mean the biggest challenge overall for me, or for all of us, is the communication part as well because still a lot of people don’t know what people analytics actually is and that’s quite hard, still. So it’s one challenge to get them to know what people analytics is and how it could affect our company, and not just HR, I mean the whole company, and on the other side is to bring it to a success with so many associates within the company. That’s a thing I’m facing right now, to get this amount of people to the systems and to good data and to good results at the end, so that’s quite hard.
Erik: So one of the use cases you mentioned was skill management, can you elaborate a bit on that? What do you mean with skill management and how does that impact Bosch?
Jasmine: Yeah. So, overall, we try to answer one question for us as a company and this was how is it possible for us to make all the skills we have already in the company, how to make them transparent. And we were trying to use the UX (User Experience) approach, so coming from the user perspective and answering the question, “Okay, what do we know right now?” The skills are currently in the hands of the associates, we don’t have it in the system. We might have some of them on paper or some of them in the kind of systems but we don’t have any skill or all the skills transparent within our company.
So we asked the question: how do we motivate our associates to get these skills out of their heads and into our systems? And the question for us was, okay, we need to provide them a benefit so they will provide us their skills. And in this case it is really important for us to get to know, what kind of skills they have next to their jobs, not currently on their positions. So are they sitting in the basement and writing any kind of programs or software or are they really good in painting? These are skills we need to know because maybe we can fill gaps within the company in the future with these internal resources, because we have 410,000 employees, so we do have a lot of good people within the company. We can transform them to use our internal resources in the future and not just go on the external market, because we all know, in the war of talent it’s quite hard to get the right people for our open positions. So we need to use our internal resources to fill these gaps.
Erik: Very interesting because this morning Josh Bersin was actually saying that – I don’t know if you saw it – but developing the skills internally is six times cheaper, I think he said, compared to bringing them in from the outside world. So how do you then motivate those employees to tell what they’re doing in the basement?
Jasmine: Yeah. So we created a tool, or it’s firstly a clickable prototype, with the user together. So they’re answering us questions in a lot of sprints, like, “Okay, what do I like? How is it really user friendly to use a tool like this and what motivates me?” And the answer were three triggers, basically; one was … so we did interviews. So one kind of people, a group, said, “Okay, they want to develop themselves.” One just said, “Oh, we want to network around the company,” and some of them said, “Oh, we really want a new job. We’re really annoyed with our current position, we want a new job.” So we tried to bring all these triggers together and developed a clickable prototype to give them a chance to create their individual career path. And that’s a really important thing because what we want to provide is that everyone has the same chance to develop themselves to a job which is their passion. Because, as we all know, if you have passion in something, you work better.
And that’s what we want to create and in this kind of development navigation it shows you the gap you have from your current skillset to the future skillset of the job you want to have and will then provide you trainings you might do to fulfill these gaps in the future. And this is kind of a benefit for the single associate so that everyone gets a chance to develop themselves for a future job as well as to train themselves individually without a yes from the manager, without an approval, and that’s quite important.
Erik: Yeah, and if they can, in their work, work on the things that they’re doing in the basement, that’s probably also matching their passion and what they like.
Erik: Fantastic. So one last question; what do you think the future will look like? What could the future specifically for people in Bosch look like?
Rainier: Yeah. First of all, don’t forget basic data. Data quality, it’s very important, a good data lake for providing the systems with good data. Because it’s useless to introduce new tools like skill management and others without that data. Second is besides skill management there’s another use case, we call it pulse check.
It’s very important to know the mood of our employees constantly, not every two years like in normal surveys. And to derive measures, very important. And with several tools in analytics like open text analyzers and other analytics you can see easily … ‘easily’-
Erik: Between quotations
Rainier: …if it works well. You know machine learning is a difficult thing. Then you can see how is the mood of employees, how is their position to some topics we discuss in forums, in blogs and so on? And this is also a use case. We follow up in future, because employees are more and more important. They develop themselves, not the manager is responsible, so the mood of employees is very important in future.
Erik: Very interesting. And what I really like is that there’s the perception of people analytics, it’s only numbers and statistics, and most of what you’ve been talking about is really a negotiation almost between different parts of the organization, talking to the employees and trying to figure out what they really want and then building it. It’s much more qualitative, in a sense, than a lot of people think, so I think that’s a fantastic insight.
Rainier: Two words on the reporting. We would also like to reach the next maturity level, so from descriptive analytics to predictive and prescriptive, so this is also a big challenge, to show trends, prediction, benchmarking on mobile; this is what business is requiring from the old fashioned dashboarding, KPI dash boarding. This step is also necessary.
So new use cases like skill management, pulse checks, but also bringing reporting to the next maturity level.
Erik: Fantastic. Thank you very much, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you very much.
Rainier: A pleasure, thank you very much.