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.
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.
- 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
- 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
- Try and see which profile does he / she fits in – Programmer, Statistician, Data Scientist, Consultant, BI programme manager, Developer, Engagement Manager
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!“
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.