Boost Your Credibility with the 3 Ss Approach to Using Stats and Studies

Each year, there are dozens of studies done on workplace culture. The insights provided hold tremendous value to organizations, but unfortunately, leaders struggle to use them.

Whether you’re a manager or HR professional, it can be difficult to get focused attention on the “people” issues within your business. Statistics and studies help but there are a lot of them. 

If you’ve tried, you’re likely frustrated after sifting and searching through limitless information trying to find the most relevant data. And then when you find something really good, you might face opposition from your bosses and coworkers who have strong viewpoints and claim that they’ve “heard it all.” Even with rock solid data, it’s hard to break through those long-held attitudes. From experience, you know a study alone isn’t convincing.

You can address these challenges head-on and effectively use studies to boost your credibility and influence while building buy-in for the necessary people initiatives.

You know that a good study helps increase your influence and impact at work, especially for human resource professionals and people managers. Because your work doesn’t always come with built-in metrics (sales, units produced, uptime, etc.), you often need to be resourceful with finding and using information successfully. You’re an expert in your field and keenly observant about what’s going on in your business, studies show others what you’re seeing and why they should follow your lead. However, this requires a strategic approach to get the maximum effects from the studies.

You can breakthrough by using the 3 “Ss” approach: Selection + Situation + Solution.

Here’s how you can easily convince the decision-makers to stop, pay attention, and invest in your solution.

Focus and narrow your selection.

To start, select your study and statistic. There are so many interesting studies out there that it’s easy to get distracted by ones that don’t pertain to the problem you’re facing or anticipating. One of the key credibility killers when using statistics is burying valuable information under distracting details. When you keep throwing more and more wood onto the fire; eventually, they smother your point. Then narrow down your focus area or the challenge you’re facing. If your issue is broad, like “employee engagement,” look for trends by geographic area or demographic data: age, race, gender, etc.

Add the context of your unique business situation.

Next, consider your unique situation: add context by describing how and why this data is relevant to your business. If available, add comparable data from internal surveys or summarized exit interview trends. Adding specifics about your business’s situation makes the connection because the data you’re sharing more relevant.

Finally, document your solution. Describe your approach to addressing this problem with as much detail as you have. Speak specifically to the results you seek to achieve with the support of your boss and team.

Share your solution.

You can bringing the three elements together with a statement following the 3 Ss formula: Selection + Situation + Solution = Strongest Case

Here’s what that might sound like:

I read last week that resignation rates are highest among employees aged 40-49 (study selection). Frustration in mid-career is common. Just last week, I did two exit interviews for mid-level program managers. I’m proposing managers reach out to all employees to check in on their overall job satisfaction. I’m asking that we pay particular attention to what we hear from this key demographic and share our findings at our next meeting.

Studies are a gold mine for building credibility and making a more convincing case to bring attention to your issues. You can use them to effectively build buy-in with your boss and peers when you’re selective and avoid dumping too much into your argument. From there, adding your experience and insight plus your proposed solution makes the information actionable.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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