Require Analytic Skills to Hire and Promote 

up down arrowsUnless your department is still in the early stages of your analytics journey, analytic skills should be one of your hiring and promotion criteria.

In an earlier post I outlined 10 Signs Mgmt Doesn’t Really Support Analytics.

One of the signs is that hiring and promotion decisions are made without reference to a person’s analytic skills.

Before You Begin

Before you can implement this, you must already know what analytic skills you need in the department, and provide the training and the projects in which people can learn and practice those skills.

This is one of the more advanced steps in building your program, but so many steps in building an analytics program are intertwined and depend on each other.

So while you may not be in a position to implement a skills/merit process now, you can work on the prerequisites.

Easier to Start with Hiring Process

Also, it is easier to implement this in the hiring process than the promotion process, so start there.

Even if your department is just starting to do analytics, or you are doing adhoc analytics without a formal plan or leadership, you can, at the very least, do this:

Ask prospective candidates to describe how they have obtained, validated, transformed, joined, analyzed, and visually presented data in previous projects.

It doesn’t take much preparation, and the worst thing that can happen is that the candidate says, “I haven’t done any analytics. What is your department’s analytic process? What successes have you had?”

If you have a more developed analytics program, it is easier to ask candidates about specific skills. One of my favorite interview techniques is to ask candidates how to solve a current problem I’m facing. That not only tests how candidates think, you might get some good ideas to try.

Strengthening the Promotion Process

If you require analytic skill mastery for promotion, this does several things:

  1. Indicates that management is serious about analytics–that will change your culture in the department
  2. Gives staff the proper motivation
  3. Automatically increases requests for help and training within the department (better have an analytics champ!)

To implement analytic skills into the promotion process:

  • Make a list of the skills desired
  • Identify which skills need to be mastered at each job level
  • Provide time, training, and project work to learn and master those skills (1-3 years)
  • Announce the date when the new requirements for promotion will be effective
  • Ensure each staff member has clear goals and the opportunities to achieve them during each review period
  • Promote accordingly
  • Be somewhat flexible in the beginning when good performers are on the right track, but may not have met all requirements

Of course, all of this is easier if you have an analytic champion.

Goals For Everyone

Analytics isn’t just for auditors anymore.  Neither are analytic goals.

Team leads, managers, directors and CAEs should have analytic goals.

I’ve heard many leads and managers say, “I don’t audit, so I don’t need those skills.”

In reply, I ask them:

  • How do you review work papers containing analytics if you don’t understand them? How do you catch analytic errors?
  • How do you suggest what further analysis might add further insight?

At this point they usually dismiss the topic with, “I don’t have time anyway.”

My reply:

  • So you don’t have time to provide ‘audit supervision’ as required by IIA standards? (Analytics requires audit supervision, especially since it is so easy to make critical, hidden errors.)

In my opinion, if you directly supervise auditors, you should be the one who mentors them in analytics. You can’t teach, correct, or enhance what you don’t know.

Supervisors (team leads, managers, whatever) mentor auditors in every other audit and interpersonal skill, so why not analytics? Leaders are paid to lead, so why do leaders resist leading in this area?

Answer: Because analytics is not viewed as a critical piece of audit yet. That’s why non-managers (folks likes you and me) often have to lead from behind.

Directors and CAEs need analytic goals too, such as:

  • Set the analytic expectations in the department, and ensure they are reflected in annual performance goals
  • Ask what analytics are being considered for the next audit
  • Regularly ask direct reports for updates on the progress that THEY and their teams are making in analytics
  • Reward staff that are learning new analytic skills, completing analytic projects, and teaching others.
  • Celebrate analytic attempts that failed and ensure lessons learned are identified and shared
  • Regularly check whether access to data and systems used for analytics is secured
  • Support the analytic program by budgeting for software, hardware, licenses, training, and project dollars for IT support and consulting

Wrap Up

So if your department is not maturing in analytics, ask yourself what motivations are in place to ensure staff growth and success?

Because if you hire and promote auditors who don’t know analytics or resist learning it, your leaders are making it clear that analytics really isn’t that important. And you know what you’ll end up with: non-analytic staff.

But if analytics is important, then start making your lists, your plans, and work toward implementation.

P.s. You might want to anonymously leave this on someone’s desk.

Let me know how it goes…


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Filed under Audit, Data Analytics, Employment, How to..., Written by Skyyler

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