Investing in development of employees is an important aspect of management and organization building. However, it may be neglected during trying times when the focus of the organization shifts to important business matters. Technologies are changing at a lightening pace and individuals have to be abreast with technical skills irrespective of how companies, markets and economies fare. Contrary to traditional thinking, employee development could have tremendous scope to lead an organization towards its growth path.
In this information-led economy every organization is sitting on terabytes of data and has realized that an effective analysis of this data can elevate their performance. Business Analytics is a fast growing need in many organizations. This has led to hiring and developing a new breed of talent called the ‘Data scientists’ who are expected to analyze the vast amount of data and provide useful insights and predictions on driving better decision making and company performance. They are intellectual and versatile individuals for whom there is no right or wrong way of finding answers through data analysis and believe that their value can only be measured by the business impact their work is able to generate. This talent needs to be nurtured if organizations have to tap their true potential. Training for such talent therefore has to help unlock their creative capacities apart from improving their technical skills. Training is also aimed at creating future leaders who can lead teams, be world-class consultants and have a good understanding of technical skills. This is essential not just to enable holistic growth of the individual but also of the organization.
There are seven ‘capability tenets’ that can help analytics organizations drive capability development.
Que sera sera…the future is ours to see: Trainings must not be done for ‘now’. ‘Next-gen’ training must be done keeping in mind the needs of the organization in future. Especially in a dynamic environment of business analytics and consulting, one needs to read the crystal glass to create capabilities and technical expertise now that is able to lead the organization three to five years later. Capability development team needs to think ahead to be ahead of the curve.
Data is divine: More so in an analytics organization. Seldom does one use data constructively to assess training needs. Understanding the pulse of the organization, demographics, existing skills, and experiences go a long way in carving the future training needs. It becomes essential for HR and training to work with data on the organization and individual to create the right training for the right set of people. Training on big data is in demand at the moment. These technologies will be the game changers in analytics in years to come.
Look inside out: A few smart people within the organization are all it takes to create more. It is important to realize early in the game that giving the responsibility of training to a few good employees creates a chain reaction that imparts knowledge to more. This is a good way to motivate good employees with skills to train their peers. Programs with internal facilitators also tends to be successful as facilitators understand the challenges of the group better and are better placed to share live examples related to data, customers and the organization.
Nothing official about it: Fundamentally training only means learning and sharing knowledge. Does one need a formal structure to learn always? A culture of sharing knowledge through informal sessions can be very helpful. How about a VP doing a round table with analysts on good presentation skills or a technical expert on Hadoop reverse mentoring the leadership on the utility of the tool?
Business context: On many occasions employees may be adept in their area of work but have little context of the business they operate in. Equipping them with context and at regular intervals is important and can help them marry their skills with better understanding of the business. A little creativity can help an organization BE-in-BUSINESS. Another challenge is that data analysts are a very diverse group of people including PhDs, technical consultants, business managers and leadership so training at times has to be custom-made to their requirements.
Virtual is vital: Young analysts and GenY are eager to learn. However, they are happy training themselves at a pace that suits them and at a time that works for them. Therefore, a good online learning and development tool may be a worthy investment.
We need to create not just future capabilities but future managers as well: Designing a system architecture or statistical model involves a combination of information technology skills, statistical skills and a good understanding of databases. The individual also needs to have the expertise to work as a project manager as clients and teams are involved. Training, therefore, must lead to creating good managers. This is important as the team relies upon their manager to provide the guidance and information necessary to use the tool effectively while the client is looking up to the manager for best-in-class consultancy.
Whether it’s an analytics organization or any other, benefits of capability development and training are intangible. Investing in training benefits both, the organization and its employees. To quote, “‘one should be hired for their passion intensity and potential; for everything else there is training’.