How to Handle Every Distributed Workforce Challenge with Data-Driven Management

We live in amazing times when companies have the freedom and all the possibilities to hire the best talent in the world without the need to relocate those high-performers. Besides, globalization allows businesses to grow at an exponential rate like never before, offering their products and services to consumers from all corners of the world.

However, the effective management of distributed teams is still a big challenge. The risk of getting an alienated distributed workforce that doesn’t work toward the same goals as HQ jeopardizes overall productivity and increases attrition. The challenge lies not only in fixing poor communication or irregular feedback but also in determining what tools and resources leaders need to leverage to empower their distributed teams and have the most impact on the bottom line.

Data is the linchpin in driving organizations forward

The effective management, development, and support of distributed teams lie in removing ambiguity from workflows to see the real struggles of workforces, their skill gaps, successfully performed activities, failures, and time spent on specific actions that altogether influence productivity. Such clarity is possible upon embracing data-driven performance management. For example, HBR research found that data-driven companies outperform their competitors on objective measures of financial and operational results.

The 2019 L&D Global Sentiment Survey is more proof as to how data is now not a choice but a requirement for companies that want to develop their workforces in alignment with business objectives. The survey has been held annually since 2014 with the purpose of monitoring the focus of L&D professionals on the means that contribute most to the success of workforce development. This year, the results placed three data-based tools at the core for the first time in six years.

  1. “Personalized adaptive content delivery” (the number one choice for the third year in a row) that focuses on suggesting a variety of experiences, approaches, resources, and tools to address each learners’ specific needs just-in-time.
  2. “Artificial intelligence”. John Leh, CEO at Talented Learning, comments in the report that predictive AI technology strongly supports personalization: “First, it helps to identify learner trends, habits and preferences across the whole experience and, secondly, the insights learned are used to further personalize the learner experience and content recommendations.”
  3. “Learning analytics” (first time appearing in the report chart and ranking third right away) boosts learning experience optimization to the next level via data analysis and our ability to read and understand data. Being data literate is becoming a must-have skill for the training leaders of tomorrow.  

The three top options closely connected with data collection and analysis, chosen by 5,332 L&D professionals, illustrate that companies are beginning to address talent development challenges much more discreetly. Resources (be it time, money or tools) are used with a clear understanding of their influence, and this discretion calls for data-savvy leaders.

Slicing and dicing the data to develop distributed workforces at scale

Common challenges of managing distributed workforces, including a lack of performance visibility, poor communication, inconsistent training and support, as well as the failure to continuously articulate the company’s goals are solved with data-driven performance management. Smart learning tools that handle the variety, volume, and velocity of data here serve as a means to develop and support distributed teams from the first days of them joining a company.

If L&D professionals slice and dice the data and then apply insights to their talent development strategy, they can improve the three key success factors in developing distributed workforces.

  • Adaptive onboarding

Onboarding is a crucial point of the “orientation” part, especially when it comes to welcoming distributed workforces to your team. Since leaders can’t physically be there to render 24/7 support and ensure that new recruits have digested all training content, a smart way to solve this challenge is by leveraging a data-driven learning platform. This tool will “work individually” with every user, building up, step-by-step, a completely customized path to success. From the very first task to ongoing training on products, compliance, company’s updates, etc., such a platform will not only develop a clear onboarding structure but will also allow users to check on their own progress and see what they need to do next, never feeling lost or unsupported.

  • Personalized experiences

By constantly collecting and analyzing the specific performance metrics of each learner, the data-driven learning platform will prescribe unique activities to each user based on their needs, objectives, and skills gaps. Such non-linear, personalized paths are an effective way to integrate ongoing training into daily routines without any information overload. Besides, if these automatically triggered activities are based on smart science-based gamification practices, distributed workforces will have much more engaging learning experiences. As a result, improved knowledge and skills retention will lead to enhanced productivity, and engaged workforces will stay with a company longer.

  • On-demand support

With a robust analytics tool that collects back office data, learners’ feedback, each user’s learning activities, and all other related people analytics, leaders can clearly see how every action impacts the bottom line. This is what helps those leaders to focus on critical performance issues and activities that workforces need support with.

L&D tools of your choice should have the capabilities to be deeply integrated into your distributed workforce’s daily activities and workflows. This is what drives retention, engagement, productivity, and other key KPIs through training. Moreover, real-time reporting that shows each team’s and individuals’ learning progress helps to paint a macro picture for strategic leadership, tracking specific patterns to enable timely interventions.

By embedding the right data-driven tools into the training and development of distributed workforces, every team member enjoys their own growth journey—an adaptive roadmap to success.

To motivate and engage your workforce, you’ll need the right technology – a platform using context and data to trigger the right activities at the right times for the right behaviors. Click here to see Rallyware in action or read more about our performance enablement suite.