9 best practices for analytics talent management

Kunal Jain 18 Apr, 2015 • 3 min read

Interviewing for Analytics positions is fun! I have conducted hundreds of interviews and I still grab most of the opportunities which come my way. However, right recruitment is only the start of the journey. The next most important thing is to manage this talent effectively. This article aims to lay out these practices for the benefit of new managers and leaders. These are practices, I have learned over the years through a lot of practice.

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I will keep these best practices specific to anlaytics talent management and refrain from putting up any generic advice (e.g. Keep a healthy work life balance! ). You can search them elsewhere.

  1. Understand what they (analysts) want to do? Make sure they are not in the wrong place! – This is the most critical takeaway for any manager. Honest understanding and evaluation of the ambitions / motivation of the analyst can itself avoid most of the big management disasters. The evaluation, which, I try and do in the initial few days, typically results in one of the following
    1. Person is not capable of a technical role. Go back and check why was he hired in the first place. Also, do a favour by putting him into a more relevant role
    2. Try and see which profile does he / she fits in – Programmer, Statistician, Data Scientist, Consultant, BI programme manager, Developer, Engagement Manager
  2. Set aside time for regular mentoring and work catch up – probably daily in initial days; Feel free to do so in an informal environment, once in a while. The frequency can go down once both of you are comfortable with each other’s way of working.
  3. Ask them to surprise you, especially in the initial days! Typically a good performer will surprise you with their work, multiple times within first 90 days! If this does not happen, you are dealing with mediocre talent or low motivation. Try and get to the bottom and address quickly.
  4. Make them knowledge junkies: The best of analysts love learning new tools and techniques. Also, given the fast pace of changes in this industry, it is best to put aside time for structured learning and development.
  5. Give them more and more ownership: Over time, this is the best gift for your best analysts. Give this and they will love it. Tell them the business problem and leave them on their own. Help them with brainstorming! Mentor them! But, at the end of the day, give more and more ownership to them. Or, as one of my mentors says, “Ask them to get into bigger shoes!
  6. Challenge them: Ask them to think more! Ask them to compete against the best of analysts across the globe through various data science competitions across the globe.
  7. Nothing beats an honest, clear, objective and unambiguous constructive feedback: Don’t mix up the words here. Communicate your feedback honestly and objectively in a constructive manner.
  8. Set up opportunities for getting mentored by the best analysts (with in / outside team): Learning from someone, who has been through similar situation some time back and has come out flying, can give completely fresh and independent perspective.
  9. Finally, see career progression by getting in the shoes of the analyst: You can only do justice to an analyst’s career, if you understand what he wants (remember practice # 1?). Whether your best talent is moving on from his current job or wants to take a sabbatical to try out something new, do the right thing in his interest (rather than yours). This might be difficult in the short term, but is the right thing to do!

What do you think about these best practices? Do you have more to add on? Do you find it difficult to implement some of these? What challenges did you face? I’ll be interested to hear your perspective.

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photo credit: ffaalumni via photopin cc

Kunal Jain 18 Apr 2015

Kunal is a post graduate from IIT Bombay in Aerospace Engineering. He has spent more than 10 years in field of Data Science. His work experience ranges from mature markets like UK to a developing market like India. During this period he has lead teams of various sizes and has worked on various tools like SAS, SPSS, Qlikview, R, Python and Matlab.

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Responses From Readers


Anna 22 May, 2014

Hi Kunal, I agree with every single word in your blog post. My former manager followed all of these tips and even more. He put a very hard work into placing every analyst in what they were best suited for and what they enjoyed doing. We quickly gained more responsibility and ownership and took on challenging projects. In a matter of several months our daily work became full of opportunities for solving problems, pitching ideas to the best clients, learning new concepts, getting to know organizational processes and other people in the organization. He is a true mentor whom I was excited to work for. When I decided to move on to try something new, he supported my decision and provided me with some of the best advice I've ever received. Analysts are "knowledge junkies" and having access to mentorship opportunities and resources to learn can truly make us shine. One of the points I would want to add to your list is setting up opportunities for analysts with different personality traits and skills, such as helping the ones that are better at presenting their ideas to become great presenters and consultants and helping the ones that prefer to work on their own on long consuming problem statements get enough quiet time to find solutions.

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Talent Acquisition Consulting Services 09 Jun, 2014

In this post given all information is very informative and useful. all analytic are useful for talent management if thank you for sharing such valuable information.

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