The Value of Using Data-Driven Decision-Making to Hire the Best Leaders

Posted by Courtney StevensO

May 30, 2019

To consistently make right-fit hires, school districts must incorporate data-driven decision-making into their leadership hiring processes.

Principals are of paramount importance to their schools’ success. In fact, according to a recent study, they have a direct effect on 25 percent of the factors that underlie academic success, and students attending schools led by the top 16 percent of principals are, on average, two to seven months ahead of their peers.

When considering a principal’s potential for delivering such results, a number of factors come into play: school performance, educational background, training experience, and specific skills, degrees, and certifications. Aggregating — let alone using — all this information requires a mature data infrastructure, something many districts simply don’t have. As a result, making right-fit hires for leadership roles can be as challenging as it is consequential.

The Challenge of Making Right-Fit Leadership Hires

In many cases, schools trying to fill vacant leadership positions without a data-driven leadership pipeline system struggle to find qualified candidates.

Administrators tasked with overseeing hiring processes tend to begin by evaluating their existing staff to identify anyone who may show leadership potential. However, since they often only do so once openings arise, they seldom find candidates who are prepared to fill these positions. Additionally, without the tools necessary to approach hiring proactively, administrators end up resorting to word-of-mouth networking, relying first and foremost on tracking candidates they hear about through the grapevine.

What’s more, without a data solution that provides a comprehensive overview of each school, an administrator may be blind to the nuances of a specific school’s strengths and needs. Not every good principal is the best fit for every school — it’s critical that a candidate’s specific skill-set and experience align with their prospective school’s unique needs. This insight deficit forces administrators to hire the most qualified or experienced candidate rather than the right fit for the school.

Even schools with leadership pipeline systems for training internal candidates may encounter some of these issues if they don’t use data to determine how many future leadership positions will be available and what type of candidates to train. This lack of information can severely hamper a district’s ability to implement a consistent and effective approach to developing and maintaining leadership talent.

The Power of Data-Driven Leadership Tracking Systems

Hoonuit’s Human Capital solution set includes a leader tracking system (LTS) that is the perfect tool for schools looking to streamline and improve their leadership hiring processes. Our LTS collects and consolidates data to create candidate profiles — including information on the candidates’ school performance, educational background, leadership and training experiences, and specific competencies — that enable you to match the right talent with your school’s leadership needs. It can also create customized reports to keep administrators informed during every step of the hiring process.

In short, our LTS optimizes how administrators go about identifying leaders with the qualifications and experience for which they’re looking. For instance, an administrator might use LTS data to see that disciplinary incidents are trending upward in their school. This will let them know that they should search for candidates who are well-equipped to handle this kind of issue — a disciplinarian rather than a visionary, so to speak. Using our LTS dashboard, this administrator could assemble a list of these kinds of candidates within a matter of minutes, dramatically reducing the time it takes to get started with interviews.

The analytics integrated into our LTS can also help schools pinpoint their best in-house talent. As is the case in most industries, hiring teachers, coaches, or guidance counselors who demonstrate a high level of leadership potential is far cheaper than making outside hires — to say nothing of the fact that promoting from within tends to improve staff buy-in and morale. As such, it’s essential for administrators to give their most promising employees the resources and opportunities to step into leadership roles, a reality that is reflected in the in-house tracking features of our LTS.

One of the ways our LTS helps cultivate in-house talent is by providing administrators with data about their schools’ patterns of openings — how many leadership positions are open, when do they need to be filled, what is the forecast for future vacancies, and so on. Being able to anticipate future hiring needs informs schools how many in-house employees they should be actively priming for leadership roles.

On the one hand, schools that don’t invest enough in their staffs often find themselves relying on less-than-ideal outside hires. But on the other hand, schools that invest in developing too many candidates simultaneously run the risk of losing their carefully developed talent to other schools — most potential leaders are only interested in “sitting on the bench” for so long.

Learning from Every Hire

Of course, the hiring process is not done and dusted once a school has taken steps to stock its in-house talent pipeline and made hires to fill its immediate needs — administrators must carefully track new hires to ensure they’re meeting expectations and progressing along the learning curve at an appropriate pace. That’s why our LTS provides all the information administrators need to monitor their leaders (new and old) and learn from both hires that worked out well and hires that didn’t. This insight helps administrators reevaluate their hiring processes and empowers them to continuously improve their schools over the long term.

At Hoonuit, our goal is to provide districts with a powerful data-driven platform that will help them design, implement, and fine-tune effective leadership pipelines. Whether your school is seeking to inject data-driven decision-making into its existing approach to hiring leaders or build an entire hiring infrastructure from the ground up, we’re ready to help you step into education’s data-driven future.

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