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Less jargon, fewer bonuses, more loyalty


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Article for Data IQ Spring 2015 with tips on recruiting and retaining skilled customer insight analysts.

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Less jargon, fewer bonuses, more loyalty

  1. 1. INSIGHT AND INTELLIGENCE 1 OPINION Less jargon, fewer bonuses, more Ioyalty The well-trailed dìfficulties in ‘ recruiting data scientists (or other ' analytical roles), followed by the equivalent challenge in retaining them long enough to recoup your investment, have been likened to “talent wars". A11 regions to some extent share this experience, with hotspots — London is perhaps the most challenging piace to retain talent, but there is more on the market (in among the charlatans and just plain-deluded). In my own experience, it has been easier to recruit in South Wales and Bristol, much harder in Bournemouth and Edinburgh. Several factors can improve your odds, including how you advertise, whether or not you use an agency and, especially, how clearly you explain the role. Providing clarity and what you expect from candìdates is harder than it sounds. Many terms that you might use — analysis, insight, modelling, reports, etc - are open to interpretation and some very poorly- skilled candidates use this language to descrìbe what they can do. For this reason, I recommend avoiding technical jargon as much as possible. Describe the role in terms of the outputs you require the person to be capabIe of deIivering. D0 you want a candidate who can produce analytical reports or someone who can influence marketing Ieaders? D0 they need to present or be sufficiently persuasive to change strategy? Advertising your role is another conundrum. Gìven the high fees for little visible effort, it’s not surprising to see the growth both of companies investing in their own recruitment portals and greater use of LinkedIn. Iwould certainly encourage use of your own company advertising (to tap into fans of your brand) and LinkedIn as a first step. However, I have still seen real benefit from specialist agencies that genuinely know this market. Having recruited analysts for over a decade now, I've found informed 22 DatalQ | @TheDataIQ | www. dataiq. co. uk specialist recruitment agencies few and far between — and those I trust to be even rarer. Insight Ieaders will be only too well aware that, while finding the right analytical talent in the first place is challenging, it can be even harder to retain and keep them engaged. It is really important to start well - taking the approach recommended in “The First 90 Days" by Michael Watkins can be a recipe for any new hire to hit the ground I I I I I I I I I I I I I l Ì I I I I I I I I | I I I l 1 I I | I I I I I I I l I I I l I I I l I I I l I I I I I I | I I l I I I I 1 l l I I I l 1 _ I runmng. 1 F33 NG 2015 ‘Iîhere ìs a need te {tea eomeaa e25: te tarata better fa? skìììed ÉÉÀÈÉÉÈSÈÉS, ’ Those leaders of insight teams are even harder to find, so many organìsations are appointing candidates with strong generic competencies, but little or no experience of customer Insight. On-boarding coaching is growing in popularity and we provide this service to help support executives to be as effective as possible through their first 90 days. Ongoing motivation and engagement of analysts could be a book in its own right. Suffice to say that there is a natural tendency for this population to be more cynical. Marshall Goldsmith described most performance management systems as an occupational hazard at best - there is a need to flex company policy to work better for these skilled people. In “Punished by Rewards”, Alfie Kohn stresses the importance of not relying on bonuses - rather, be genuinely interested in the work they do, its importance and craft. One final recommendation for how to retain motivated, capable analysts is to invest in a clear career path. Analytical people especially Want to understand how their skills match up to the ideals for each role and potential routes for their development, if they can improve and “up-skill”. I have seen skilled analysts become very motivated by simply having clearly-documented competencies for different technical roles and seniority wìthin them. When you add clarity as to potential career routes, it can Iead to conversations and planning that result in those analysts staying for many years, not just months. IQ