Three Steps for Creating the Analytics Dream Team

Building your team is hard work. Finding the right skills, the right personalities, the right types of motivation to build a team that works well together like a well-oiled machine… feels almost impossible at times. So what do you do?

We at International Institute for Analytics (IIA) have been answering that question for our clients for as long as we can remember. In this blog, we are going to share three key strategies we have learned working with analytics teams of all sizes and maturity. These three steps will help you hone in on what you are truly looking for and what you need to do to balance the team you already have.

Step One: Get an inventory of the skills you currently have

One of the key mistakes we have seen leaders do is continuously hire for skills they already have on their team. This happens for a number of reasons:

  • Your individual team members are capable of new skills they have gained while they have been with you, some that they learned to complete a specific project but have not been able to fully show you.

  • They got hired into a role that seemed like a good fit but never truly utilized all of their skills.

  • They are uncomfortable asking for different tasks than given to them so they don’t get the chance to show you what they really can do.

When looking to build a strong team, knowing what skills you have and what skills you need is clutch. IIA has created the Analytics Skills Inventory Questionnaire. This process will maximize your organization’s analytics investment with a systematic approach to resource allocation and inventory of your team’s skills.

Step Two: Hire and Test for Data Skills

Now you know what you need to hire for but how do you start? Thankfully Tanya Cashorali, a member of the International Institute for Analytics (IIA) Expert Network has put together a “One-Size-Fits-All Interview Kit” that she presented at @stratacon. You can watch the full presentation here.

Tanya walks through understanding the key elements of writing an accurate job description. We all know everyone is looking for the “Analytics Unicorn” to fill the hole in their team. Yet, we aren’t really sure those exist so writing a job description that will attract the key skills you need to round out your team should be your main focus.

Once you think you have found the right hire, don’t be afraid to test them. Make sure you get a strong feeling for their skills and if they will be able to deliver on the role. Nothing is harder on a team than a bad hire.

Step Three: Retention

Thought the hiring and building process was a lot of work? Trying to replace key members and fix morale will be even harder. We all know that people come and go from jobs for various reasons and retention is not always easy. But working hard at keeping a team is important for the success of your analytics organization.

Keep your team focused – it is really fun to go off the rails on a model and see what kind of thing they can build. But when it doesn’t serve a higher greater business purpose and no one uses it,it can feel like a punch in the stomach to the group who built it.

Show your team their impact – it is not always easy for the analytics team to pop their heads up from their work to see the impact they are making on an organization. Show them. Let them see how what they have done is driving change.

Be appreciative. Yes, that seems simple and you might think you are already doing it every day. But are you? Are you sharing emails to the team about individual success? Are you thanking groups in meetings? Are you saying “Thank you” to them in their one-on-ones? These little verbal moments of affirmation show your and the organizations appreciation for what they do and it means a lot in the day-to-day grind.

Congrats – now you are ready to build a team of people that have skills that are able to deliver on projects successfully. So what do you do once you have made some great hires and filled in the skillset holes that were missing? How do you organize them? How do you focus them on having the right impact on the organization? Join International Institute for Analytics (IIA) and 200+ analytics professionals this March in Portland, Oregon at the Analytics Symposium to answer those questions and many more. This vendor-free environment is for you and your peers to have honest conversations about the challenges of this ever-growing industry. Register today!