How Data Forms An Emotion Connection
For over 15 years we have been breaking new ground with employee development data. eParamus was the first to provide business data on specific skills employees have, and which ones they need. We specialize in providing learning’s impact on business results. We have logged thousands of examples of how employees changed their behavior on the job and recorded how those behavior changes improved organizational outcomes.
So, bottom line, I have seen the power of providing consistent data to our customers. My experience has shown that giving relevant and reliable data is the way to create real behavior change in both employees and organizations.
A New Years Resolution
With all this experience, you would think I fully understood the power of data. Yet, my best understanding only came when I went to tackle my 2020 New Year’s resolution.
This year, like many other people, I made a New Year’s Resolution to get in better shape. As my “middle age” years progressed I found my health took a back seat and my weight took an upward climb. I wanted to get control of my “runaway train”.
To do this, I embarked on a journey with my best friend. We joined a “cleanse” program which promised, if we followed their plan, we could reach our health goals. We had some doubts because we had tried, and failed, to see any real change in the past. Despite this, we pumped ourselves up to start motivated and ready to make a change.
Immediately the plan started with a full-body scan. There is nothing quite like standing in front of a machine in your bra and underwear while it takes a 3D picture. This, without a doubt, makes you face the facts of reality.
Our body scans gave us a powerful reality check with a 3D visual of ourselves. It also provided us with important health information such as body composition, posture, and BMR. All this data is benchmarked against others who have completed the scan to see how we compared.
We soon learned that the entire program is based on providing data/feedback. We tracked the type and amount of food we ate, tracked our water intake and did a daily accounting of our weight. We reported our weight progress with a coach each day. The coaches gave gentle suggestions of improvement. They also celebrated with us if things were going well.
Finding the emotional connection
After all these years promoting the power of data, this was the first time I felt the emotional clout data can provide. I experienced, firsthand, how data provides the emotional influence people need to change their behavior.
I needed health data to determine my goals. I needed to have feedback on which of my actions were helping and which were hurting my progress. The data gave me information that enabled me to chart my path to success. Most important, it gave me information that allowed me to feel in control of my own destiny. Data was the tool to harness my own power.
Intellectually, I have always understood the function of data. However, it took this experience to give me an emotional connection to the feedback we have received from our customers. Comments like “I am so glad to have data to back my decisions” or “it is so nice to be able to clearly show my progress” have new meaning for me. I now understand how personal data has the power to provide visibility that we need to make good choices.
The Data/ Behavior Connection
In today’s world, there is plenty of data available. The key to the data/behavior connection is in the type of data. In my work, data on the number of courses developed or the number of courses taken do not shape anyone’s behavior. Learning data needs to inform employees on how to improve their jobs. It needs to be on the skills needed for their career. Learning data should provide employees with the information they need to improve. This data will enable them to manage their own professional growth. If learning data does not tell employees something about themselves, it will not gain the emotional connection needed to create behavior change.
Information on the health of others does not motivate me, or inform me, on my own journey. It took a scan of myself, and my personal health numbers to move me toward a behavior change. I wanted to reach my goals and I needed data on the factors that would help me do so. This program gave me all the information I needed to manage my own health, much like the way we give employees data that they need to manage their careers. I am so thankful for the information, and as we speak, I am on track to reach my goals.
Good data, whether professional or personal, is a source of power. Data gives us the power to control our own destiny. In fact, when you look at people who make changes in their jobs or their health, you are likely to find at least one data point they used to motivate them and several data points they used to achieve the change.
Most importantly, change is difficult for most people. But, the right type of data is a powerful means to create real behavior change and improve lives.
My healthy resolution journey continues but it has already taught me many lessons. I now have the physical energy to keep evangelizing for learning measurement. Also, I have gained an understanding of the emotional connection others make with data every day to improve their practice.