Corporations are increasingly turning to analytics to gain a competitive edge. Analytical talent is a distinct workforce segment that must be hired and managed in accordance with its growing importance.

How can you attract the best analysts, optimize the strength of your analytical team and keep them engaged in your business strategy for the long term?

Quantitative and Technical Skills

Strong hands-on skills are the foundation of top analytical talent. This requires the right combination of proficiency in numerical disciplines and relevant software skills.

  • Strengths must be discipline-specific in areas such as stochastic volatility analysis in finance, biometrics in pharmaceuticals and informatics in healthcare.
  • The same holds true for software capabilities such as building models, defining decision-making roles, conducting “what-if” analyses and interpreting business dashboards.

Develop strong training and career development opportunities for your analysts. Include details about them in your job description and interview talking points. Here are some examples:

  • Proctor & Gamble offers its employees a course entitled Analytics with Spreadsheets.
  • The trucking firm Schneider National provides similar educational offerings including Introduction to Data Analysis and Statistical Process Control in Services.

Business Insight

Analysts must understand plans, goals and objectives for their business, their function and their department. They need to be educated and kept current on your organization’s core capabilities and how they can add value to your initiatives.

  • Provide robust developmental assignments. EJ Gallo Winery rotates its analytical professionals between different business units during 18-to 24-month tours of duty. This way, quant jocks become savvy at identifying opportunities to assist the business.

Your analytical team members need to continually hone their skills in order to avoid potentially costly errors. These can result from employees not understanding data or terminology, or from their failure to appreciate the business side of an analysis.

  • Experts estimate that 20 percent to 40 percent of all spreadsheets contain errors, some of which are catastrophic.

Relationship and Consulting Skills

Analytical people continue to be stereotyped as nerds or techies who don’t know – or care – much about their company or its business. These assumptions are not only unfair, but also highly counterproductive. Organizations that want to become more analytical must train and enable their analysts to tell their story – speaking in layman’s terms with clients, customers, regulators and company leaders.

Make it clear that you will enable your analytical professionals to:

  • Conceive, specify, pilot and implement applications.
  • Communicate the results.
  • Share best practices.
  • Emphasize the value of analytics projects.
  • Shape working relationships with internal and external audiences and customers.

The ability to tune a regression equation or manipulate a spreadsheet is only the beginning. Effective analysts are proficient not only with data, but also with people.

  • In addition to analytical skills, seek out and develop employees with communication skills, strong work ethic, flexibility and well-developed interpersonal traits. Not only is your industry becoming more sophisticated, so are your customers. This is what they expect and demand.

Coaching and Staff Development

Good coaching not only builds essential skills, it also helps people understand how data-driven insights can increase business value.

Developing your analysts has many benefits – not the least among them the fact that this will enhance your reputation as an employer who provides its workforce with a growth-oriented learning environment.

  • Your analysts will continue to build their skills and remain professionally relevant. Thus, they’ll be more satisfied and productive.
  • Your company will enhance its analytical capabilities.
  • Because your team members are realizing growth potential, they’ll be more likely to stick around even when courted by your competitors.

For more advice on attracting, accessing and retaining A-level analytics talent, contact an executive search consultant at BrainWorks Today.

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