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Somewhere between, “Welcome to the company, now get to work!” and weeks of tedious orientation sessions (that, presumably, include a few hours with the legal department explaining that, should you be on a podcast, you need to include a disclaimer that the views expressed on the podcast are your own and not those of the company for which you now work), is a happy medium when it comes to onboarding an analyst. What is that happy medium, and how does one find it? It turns out the answer is that favorite of analyst phrases: “it depends.” Unsatisfying? Perhaps. But, listeners who have been properly onboarded to this podcast know that “unsatisfying” is our bread and butter. So, in this episode, Moe and Michael share their thoughts and their emotional intelligence on the subject of analyst onboarding, while Tim works to make up for recent deficiencies in the show’s use of the “explicit” tag.
00:04 Announcer: Welcome to the Digital Analytics Power Hour, Tim, Michael, Moe and the occasional guest discussing digital analytics issues of the day. Find them on Facebook at Facebook.com/analyticshour and their website, analyticshour.io. And now the Digital Analytics Power Hour.
00:27 Michael Helbling: Hi everyone, welcome to the Digital Analytics Power Hour, this is episode 121. You know, one thing about the analytics industry is that analysts tend to change jobs pretty often. The notable counter-example of course, being Dylan Lewis, a previous guest, on this show. But with average tenure so low, what can a company do to make sure analysts stick around for a long time? One thing that has been shown to work is actually the first thing you do, how you onboard people, and especially how you onboard the analyst. So what’s so special about onboarding? Well, I’m glad you asked because this is a topic that Tim Wilson has been dying to cover for a long time, isn’t that right Tim?
01:20 Tim Wilson: Yeah, let’s go with that.
01:22 Moe Kiss: You love the admin.
01:23 MH: Yeah, Everybody knows that’s the truth. You’re such a people…
01:27 TW: Welcome to the company, do your fucking job.
01:28 MH: There you go. You’ve been onboarding. Okay, Moe, you’ve recently actually gone through an onboarding process, so you’ve got some fresh information that you can share with us, maybe.
01:42 MK: Sure. So, I started data analytics at an Aussie start-up called Canva, so they do drag and drop features for graphic design, So you can do… I Actually, before I started working here, I did my Save the Dates for my wedding on Canva. And it’s officially a tech unicorn.
02:00 TW: The Columbus Web Analytics Wednesday social media director, we are a paid subscriber to Canva for all our promotions. So Moe, are you now an official spokesperson for Canva as well? So everything you say on the show…
02:19 MH: There’s a little bit of legalese we’re gonna cover here, real quick.
02:24 MH: Moe is representing the Digital Analytics Power Hour in her own capacity and is not a representative of Canva or its asides. All views expressed are of her own and of the Digital Analytics Power Hour.io.
02:37 MH: Alright, let’s get on to onboarding. So, yeah Tim I think you represent the, “Welcome aboard, now do your fucking job.” And Moe, I think you and I are probably sort of in a different spot with sort of the importance of onboarding, but you’ve been the most recent onboardee. So What are some things that you’ve noticed and you don’t have to get specific into how Canva does theirs, but it’s certainly fresh, it’s probably brought up a lot of thoughts about, “Hey this is how good companies do this or that thing or here’s something I’ve experienced at a different job, and it was really interesting to see how it’s handled.” I don’t know, do you wanna start us off with anything?
03:20 MK: Yeah, so I think, if anything, I have run sprinting away from Tim’s perspective into the complete opposite. And that is that… So basically, I was told the first two weeks we don’t expect you to do any work. The first two weeks is purely there for you to do induction sessions. We want you to go have coffee with as many people as you possibly can, go get ice cream with one of the founders. The whole point in the first two weeks is just to read and absorb and find your feet.
03:52 MH: And not sleep, because you’ve had six gallons of coffee and pints of ice cream a day.
04:00 MK: Well, that too, I did revert to some ice tea this week ’cause I had too much caffeine. But the funniest thing is that I actually sit in engineering so I was going through this process with all these engineers that were just like “Let me at the codebase, let me at the codebase”. And they’re like, No “You’re not allowed to do that.” And it’s really frustrating, but I also think it was the right thing to do because now you have all of these context rather than just kinda digging around and figuring out what you can… I mean, even just to the point of someone from IT coming and sitting with…
04:31 MK: And the iconic actually did this too, where new starters start in a cohort. So you are only allowed to start on a particular day a week, or on a fortnight or a month or whatever, and everyone starts together. And so they’ll just have IT come down, sort everyone out with their laptops, they sit there for an hour going, “Here are all the accounts you need. We’re gonna go through. Is anyone stuck on their password? Is anyone locked out? Does anyone need access to something that they haven’t got?” And so in like an hour, you suddenly have all your accounts set up versus sitting there for two days and potentially over two weeks information dribbling in about like, “Oh, didn’t you realize you’re meant to sign up for JIRA? Or Didn’t you realize that you needed to ask this person for GitHub?” It’s all just done. And I think it’s a very quick way. When you think about… It’s like IT takes an hour of their time and you have 10 people onboarded.
05:18 MH: I hope we recognize that I was being a little bit facetious with my…
05:23 MH: Yeah, no. I just wanna throw a legal disclaimer, “The views of Tim Wilson are usually in contrast to his actual views.” Because he’s being sarcastic and cynical, and not the actual views of Tim Wilson, LLC, or its asides. We’ll just keep going with the legal disclaimers for as long as it takes.
05:44 TW: So when it comes to onboarding there’s kind of two aspects, there’s the corporate, the everybody has to have access to their email, learn where how to request time off, maybe even the corporate values and whatever programs there are. And then there’s the analyst side, which usually means one, additional systems, but then separately, that’s where, hopefully, most of the work goes. When I worked at one company in my career, there was an entire day of… I guess it was more orientation than onboarding, it was purely the corporate stuff. So they started everybody on Mondays, or whatever, and literally at the end of that day, I knew I had made a horrible horrible mistake and I had not done anything with the analysts. But…
06:34 MK: So query, why did you… What made you realize you had made a horrible mistake?
06:39 TW: Because they took an entire day to cover about one hour’s worth of substantive stuff.
06:45 MK: I reckon I have sat through more than a day ’cause we’ve had probably two or three hours every day. And that’s from finance coming to talk about how you get paid, how you request time off legal doing a brief overview. Every single department has come and presented for half-an-hour to an hour. And what they do, recruit the main contactees, and I actually see a lot of value in that because it’s really hard. Like if you have a question about, I don’t know, your pay, how do you even know who the hell to ask if they haven’t come and spoken to you?
07:17 TW: Oh, well, this was an enormously complex company. And in that entire one-day orientation, there was no covering of, here’s how the overall company basically breaks down. I’ve kind of blocked out bits and pieces of it. It went from bad to worse and yeah, I was gone… And I was gone in nine months. But that was as much just… I don’t know that any massive enterprise is a fit for me just because I’m gonna be like “Really? We just spent 30 minutes covering what a secure password looks like? That didn’t need to be 30 minutes. Who the fuck are you hiring if we need to spend 30 minutes on that?”
07:58 MK: Yeah, but see, if IT is in the room while you set up your thing, then they’ll be like, we use last pass or one password, auto generate all your passwords. And yes, I’m gonna… I’m sitting here and making sure you all do it and that’s done in 10 minutes.
08:10 TW: No, I would say I work today… I work now at a company that actually onboards you before, so you get a… I don’t know how the non-remote workers work but I had all my systems set up on day one. It was kind of brilliant, I did eight hours of work and wasn’t even being paid yet. So that was genius and that included reading through all the like soft touchy-feely stuff.
08:33 MK: Lots of companies are doing that though, they’re sending stuff before, and I don’t know how I feel about it.
08:38 MH: Well, so to be clear about… So I feel like I’m a good person to talk about Search Discovery’s onboarding process because I’ve had the interesting ability to watch it evolve as I was thinking about this show. I was like, “Have I ever been happy with how I did onboarding?” and I always felt like I could have done better.
08:58 TW: You mean how you conducted it for new people coming on?
09:00 MH: Yeah, in 2013 when I started by bringing a lot of people to SDI and hiring a lot of people. Initially I conducted the on-boarding, ’cause we didn’t have any kind of a people services HR function, and ever since we’ve hired actual people, whose job it is knowing how much work goes into it, I have such an appreciation of how they’ve evolved that practice. And I hear from new hires every single time we do onboarding that are in at least in our office in Atlanta… I hear feedback and I don’t even solicit it, but I hear positive feedback about how that process went for them, and how much they liked it. Which I think is just a great testament and it’s to me, I’ve always believed this is the start of the journey, this is the first impression, right?
09:48 MH: We’ve had all these discussions and interviews and it’s time to kind of get everything together. This is the first kind of how our whole working relationship is gonna go, you’re setting the tone for how the whole thing is gonna work. And so Tim your example is a really good example of like, “Hey, we’re setting the tone by letting you know we’re gonna cover in a whole day or an hour… Something that can be covered in an hour. Get used to this pace. Wink, wink.” ‘Cause that’s probably what’s gonna happen in our company, right?
10:18 TW: At the end of that day was when I discovered I would not be sitting with the entire team that had an entire floor of a massive building but instead, across the street, through the steam tunnels, in a little room all by myself because they’d run out of room and I had to carry my boxes of my computer over there. So it was poor and not to totally log roll Search Discovery’s onboarding process, having onboarded in a number of places, as an analyst was kind of an order of magnitude above and beyond anything. I have told the story of what that looked like for me, which it’s evolved even beyond when I started.
10:51 MH: Yeah, they’ve done even more now, and that’s what I like. They are always trying to make it better and better too.
10:58 MK: They should be though but also they should be measuring it.
11:01 MH: Yeah, and that’s right. And as we’ve grown as a company, that’s sort of been, how do we raise the bar? How do we raise the bar? How do we raise the bar? And that’s the right attitude. And I think for any manager, or any company, I think that’s the evolution you always wanna be on ’cause I don’t think you’re gonna hit it square on the head on day one, you’re never gonna be perfect. And my approach evolved a lot because it was for me, of course, when I did onboarding kind of individually, it was more about that person and what do they need, how do they need to do it for their job, so who should they be meeting with in their first week and scheduling those meetings and making sure they know who to go talk to for what and those kinds of things. But we didn’t have some of the things you had, Tim, when you joined the company, which was like your systems are all set up and you had access to the right things, and that all came after we got our ducks in a row. And as we grew as a company, and I think that’s the thing, as I think people can take for granted those things are happening, but if you do it well at a corporate level, and again, I’m just talking about the corporate aspect of it, ’cause I’ve been in onboarding that’s lasted a whole week.
12:05 MH: You’ll sit in a classroom type session, and it was like the one you described, Moe, where different people from different departments came in and Dave, that was actually a really positive onboarding experience. I enjoyed it, I learned a lot, but I’ve also been in onboarding where I show up at 9 o’clock. You sit down in a conference room with somebody else, they show you. Here’s the project you’re working on, and you open your computer and you could start getting to work. Like that was onboarding experience as well.
12:32 MK: I do think though that there needs to be like a central person that’s responsible for it and whether that central person is a group aka team happiness people in culture, HR or whatever fancy term you wanna use. I think basically when the organization gets big enough, the responsibility should sit with them for the majority of onboarding with obviously the manager playing a vital role but in a smaller company, I think it’s almost harder because the manager has to be that onboarding specialist. And how do you do that when that’s certainly a tiny part of your job? I think there needs to be a clear understanding of who’s responsibility it is for the overall experience.
13:12 MH: Yeah. Well, and that’s why I have never been happy with how I did it because I think I was like, “This could be better.” And you just don’t have time to be… When you’re the manager, so having to do it just on your own, that’s a lot. And again, size of organization makes a lot of difference, and people are different. So some people need that, some people don’t, and so your level of ambiguity tolerance, as it goes… Fluctuates or where you are in that spectrum, it doesn’t bug me if I have one meeting, and then I’m off to the races. I’ll figure out the rest as I go. That’s just sort of my style. But that, I’ve learned, is not the style of default. You can’t expect everyone to have that capability, and nor is it totally a strength because you can get off on the wrong foot culture-wise and not really understand the organization if you’re not… You talked about getting that context. What is the company like? You probably, Moe, have a better understanding of the culture and values and sort of vibe of your new company because of that process than you would have if they had immediately brought you in and be like, “Well, here’s something we’ve been struggling with. Maybe you can take a look at this thing and get started on this little one project,” and you find your way through that one thing into the rest of it. So start big, go little, I think, is a great approach.
14:37 TW: But Moe, when you say that somebody needs to own it, and again, size of the company matters, but there’s the owning of the structure. And maybe that’s my… When I say, “Do your fucking job,” that’s coming from the side of having been a manager who has passed down, “You need to fill in this template for the onboarding plan,” and that onboarding plan may or may not make the most sense for… Again, put the corporate stuff aside. I really hope we don’t talk about the organization corporate stuff, “Fine. Get it, need it, you gotta have access to your systems. You need to understand the core values, need to have the organization.” But where does that then bridge to as an analyst because there are things… If you’re in finance, you need to be onboarded on some aspect of your finance role. And an analyst, whether you’re agency, whether you’re in-house, it is different from a branching out systems breadth of understanding; who owns that? That’s where sometimes, I feel like it’s broken down, but you get a template from whoever’s owning it centrally and you’re like, “That’s great, but a third of this, I wanna throw out and gut and replace with something else with dabbling the data.”
15:57 MK: But if it’s a good program, it shouldn’t be like that. If it’s a good program, then there is core corporate stuff everyone knows and needs to know and do. And then like what I’ve had here, where me and another guy joined the same day, we’re both in data and analytics, and we’ve done a series of breakout sessions with different people from data and analytics, and they have stepped us through the business context of what we need to do for our job. So there’s…
16:24 TW: But owned that portion of it? Was that the manager of the analytics group? Or who defined what that should look like?
16:32 MK: Yeah, so basically, the concept here is very much about coaches and mentors. So basically, when you start, you’re given a technical mentor who’s in your business unit. So it’s not your direct manager that’s responsible, it’s your mentor that’s responsible. And in some cases, because there were a couple of us starting in the same area and the same time, then we actually have combined some of those sessions. So one of our mentors has run the session rather than needing two identical sessions.
17:00 TW: And is that for a defined period of time that they’re doing this onboarding mentorship role for two or three months, or?
17:06 MK: Six months. So until you pass probation, and then you progress to a permanent coach, a permanent technical coach. And I do think there’s different people, and there is a really fine line around… We’ve had a lot of sessions on walking us through some of the key code components. So the code practice here in data and analytics is actually very advanced, and it’s pretty impressive to the team who’ve only been around for a year. And I wonder, I’ve worked with other people before that don’t believe in this. So you should just go query the data and figure out all the “gotchas” yourself. Whereas, I’m like, “I actually think it’s a big, fat waste of time.” If there’s a bunch of things that you need to know about how the data warehouse is built, someone either really solid documentation or someone walking you through it, or combination of both.
17:54 TW: I feel like it’s when there’s limited documentation is when they say, “You should just dive in and… ” That’s like, that’s, “Figure it out ’cause that’s how I had to figure it out,” as opposed to saying… But whereas, if it’s well-documented, then somebody could walk you through it, and it’s wildly more efficient.
18:08 MK: Yeah, but I still think the overall onboarding is a responsibility in a company this big of your people and culture team, or whatever they’re called, team happiness. It’s still their responsibility to make sure that those mentors are set up, that they’re aside, that they know what kind of… The mentor is a person that’s placed to know what specific things you need to know for your job. But ultimately, the overall onboarding is ran and measured, and measured is through a series of different surveys throughout the entire onboarding experience so that they can develop the program.
18:41 TW: So is the onboarding program defined as a six-month thing? Is it defined as?
18:46 MK: It’s technically two weeks, but there are a couple sessions going into week three just ’cause of timing and calendars, and leave and stuff. But technically, onboarding is two weeks. But I think a bit for me that’s always the toughest, and Michael, you made a really good point. I think one of the biggest tasks that a manager or a mentor, whoever is the main analytical person that’s doing the onboarding, the biggest thing you can do is give that person a list of, “Here are the eight people you need to go to catch up with.”
19:17 MH: Yeah, “Here are people that can give your great context for the work, and the job, and how it is.”
19:23 TW: But you either need to give the person you’re giving that list to, or the people that they’re going to some sort of structure around ’cause those have been the like, “I don’t know I’m supposed to have coffee with you.” I’m like, “Okay.” Yeah, I’ve tried it both ways.
19:38 MK: Really? I just asked… I hate the questions.
19:41 TW: Yeah, but Moe I mean that’s the thing, is you can’t assume that everybody is gonna be like you, ’cause I’ve seen how those have gone really well, exactly how I intended and I’ve seen the other ones where I was like, wait, you spent a half an our talking to this person and you never covered anything they talked about their cats or whatever.
20:02 MK: Does that matter though?
20:03 TW: No, it’s fine, I’m totally okay with that, but there’s really great information about… That didn’t get transferred at that time, I was like, “Oh my gosh, that didn’t get… So it’s more like, oh I need to make sure people have an agenda, because I can’t assume that they will self-create.
20:19 MK: Yeah, as in, they’ll get the context that they need because they don’t necessarily know what to ask or how to ask.
20:24 TW: Exactly, exactly. And so the more I’ve become exposed to it, the more I’ve become a fan of a more structured approach over time, that being said, I actually think there’s real benefits to just having some of those sort of very informal like, talk to me about your experience types of things. And actually, a lot of times when people would start, I would on purpose get them together with someone who’d maybe started just 90 days before them and have them talk to each other about how this experience went and what they might expect. Because I was like that is someone who’s just went through this and maybe can give you some helpful tips. And there’s also people who of their own volition, will even create documents of like, hey I just went through this process, and I noticed all these things, so I put them together in this document. And actually, a cool thing that Alyson Murphy brought to the team was sort of this living document that basically be handed off to each new person and say, “Here’s a document help out with lots of different things that you’ll need to know, and if you find something that isn’t in here, your job is to add it so you can pass it to the next person. And I think we’ve had a limited success because a lot of people don’t have that gumption but it’s truly a great idea of sort of like, yeah let’s build a corpus of informal knowledge as well outside of the official or formal.
21:48 TW: This is bringing back some of the pitfall that if you’re hiring an analyst two who’s gonna be the fifth analyst two on the analytics team and you say, go talk to these people. I have gone through a few times in my career being onboarded and being told you should talk to these people, not given much context. Sure, I can ask, what’s your role? And then they turn around and saying, well, what are you gonna do? How are you gonna work? And I’m like, fuck if I know, it’s day number eight, and I’m just trying to get the lay of the land and I’ll figure it out. That has been extremely uncomfortable because then you’re in the boat of potentially over-committing. And I think that’s, again, the person who is being brought on can potentially say, “Oh I’ll totally help you with all of that.” And all of a sudden the person who is the leech who will suck down anybody and everybody’s time as much as they possibly can and they’ve just done that to your new hire who’s now committed to stuff they shouldn’t have been. So I definitely think you need to send them out to talk to people. Yeah.
22:51 MK: But okay, so here’s the thing, and I’m curious to hear. So the last time… This happened to me a few years ago when I was at a new company where my manager was like, I’m a massive introvert. I’m not really comfortable introducing you to people. And I like sweet, no worries like I’m a raging extrovert, it’s fine I will go around the floor and introduce myself. I’m a big girl. I don’t… It’s cool. And then, I was managing some interns and I also found I was like, oh maybe getting introduced to 50 people in one day is just super intense. And so this time I again, I’m working with a lot of introverts and I’m like, okay I’m just gonna slowly introduce myself to people, in context, so I’ll be in my first marketing meeting and be like, oh hey, we haven’t met yet or stuff like that, versus just going on in introducing yourself to a whole floor. I feel like maybe you can just… Introducing yourself to everyone in one bang is actually the right approach because, otherwise, you kind of are walking around and getting a coffee and you’re like, oh I haven’t met this person. Should I know this person, I don’t… What do you guys do? Or do you think the manager should introduce them to everyone on the floor, I don’t know.
24:00 MH: I just walk up to people and introduce myself.
24:02 MH: So if I see that they are new, I’m just like, hey you look new. I’m this person, I’ve been here longer than anybody else.
24:12 TW: Nope, I’m just delivering a package but thanks.
24:16 MH: No your duty is over here now. That’s right. Welcome to the team.
24:21 TW: Oh, you need me to sign, oh okay.
24:25 MH: Yeah.
24:25 TW: Oh, I worked years ago, this was my third job out of college and definitely it was not important, old old school company they just been bought by Siemens, and there was the cranky old guy who he wasn’t gonna talk to anybody, he was counting the days he had a calendar, he and another guy had a calendar for three years daily counting down to their retirement. So that’s what I’m dealing with here. And somebody was like, yeah you should go ask, bug them and I’m like, okay. I mean, I was three, four years out of college so I went in and I was like, hi, I’m Tim, I’m the new guy. And he was like, I’m Bud, I’m the old guy.
25:11 TW: And I didn’t feel like he was being warm and welcoming. I really needed to ask him a question. But… ‘Cause you hit that, you do hit that point of awkwardness you’re like, oh shit, I’ve been here for a month. I’ve seen that person I know who they are. I’m a nobody, they have no idea who I am. So how do you actually break that approachability down.
25:33 MH: Yeah, I’m not the right answer that either, ’cause I’m too introverted, to just go walking up to random strangers and be like, hey I am new here.
25:41 MK: Oh, I’m pretty good at it, but… So one thing that they do here is that the people in culture team set you up on three coffee dates that you have to try and do every first couple weeks with people in completely different departments. So, I met with one frontend, engineer, one designer, one backend and we would not probably never cross paths ’cause we’re in very different departments.
26:02 MH: Yeah.
26:03 MK: And I’m like, I feel like there is benefit in that, but you’re also like. I’ve got so many stakeholders, and I’m working with a marketing department of 15 people and I haven’t even met all of them, I don’t know do you think that that’s a useful idea or do you think it’s just like one more coffee, that Tim’s gonna awkwardly like bitch his way through.
26:22 MH: As a matter of fact I’ve got a meeting this Friday. With some new hires that it’s been set up that exact same way.
26:30 MK: Okay.
26:31 MH: So, we do the exact same thing.
26:33 MK: Okay.
26:33 MH: And actually, no, I think that’s perfect ’cause that’s about building social constructs within the organization outside of your actual team, but I was like, “I might not work with this person for two years, but a chance for us to just interact as two people work at the same company is good for networking, good for knowing who that person is, good for having an anchor within the organization of some kind, to have met that person and get a vibe from them. Yeah.
27:01 MK: Okay. So what about… I guess, how do you manage when you are the new analyst? And everyone’s like, “Oh, this person’s joined. They’re so great. They’re gonna solve all about analytical problems,” and you go to stakeholder after stakeholder meeting, where it’s constantly like, “This is the person that’s gonna fix all your problems.” How that heck do you deal with that?
27:20 MH: Humor.
27:21 MH: I made the jokes, and I tell them, “I will try to lower expectations a lot.”
27:26 MK: So, give us some good lines.
27:29 MH: I don’t have good lines. It’s in the moment. It’s just… That’s very scary because you bringing up, I think something that’s like, “Oh, let’s not… ” Yeah, I would say, a good example of how to set someone up for success, right? And we’ve been struggling, we finally hired an analyst, and they were gonna solve all of our problems. And all of a sudden, it’s just like, “Oh, no. Ka-BLOOSH,” right? All of the different departments are coming in to ask for what they do, or what they’ve been struggling with. We’ve been struggling with this for six months and we can’t figure out what to do. And it’s like, “You’re new here, so now you can help us.” And the new person is no sense of prioritization. It’s like piracy at that point. It’s just like all no-holds-barred and you’re like, “What do I work on? Is this important?
28:11 MH: Is this what I should be doing right now?” I think that’s one of the drawbacks of just throwing somebody to the sharks, especially if you’re on a small or you’re just an individual contributor by yourself, and some people are analyst just doing the job themselves in their company. They need somebody to watch out for them.
28:32 MK: Yeah, but sometimes being on your own is a little bit easier because, at least, you can go directly to stakeholders and kind of… I don’t know have that conversation with them versus…
28:45 MH: How do you know? How do you know what’s important? And then now you’re spending your first week, and then your boss comes over, and he’s like, “You were doing what this week?” And then one of you aren’t gonna hold you responsible for that. They’ll just be like, “Oh, really? Okay, we gotta stop this ’cause you’ve been working… And we don’t go to de-prioritize what this person wants.
29:04 TW: The difference… ’cause when I’ve joined somewhere where they have not had an analytics organization, they haven’t had, I don’t think a seasoned analyst, a senior analyst or a manager who has come up through the analytics rank would ever do that to an analyst because they actually have the experience. When I have seen cases where… And this has happened when I’ve worked with clients that, in some cases, they’re bringing in a consultant ’cause they’re way, way behind. And often they’ve been they’re year or more behind actually hiring an analyst. They’re desperate to find one. And so, they don’t have a clue, and so that person comes in. There’s so much pent-up demand, and they think they’re helping by saying, “I’m celebrating how awesome you are, like you’re bringing your magic wand.”
29:50 TW: And so I think that that is something to be very, very cognizant of, and when it’s non-analysts who are making the introductions, then I do think it’s on the analyst to say, “Hold on, I have not really gotten my hands on your data. In my experience, the data’s always messier. I am here to be pragmatic and to help you out, and I wanna understand your business, but easy there.” It does come to humor. I’ve called up people who introduced me saying. “Hold on there, unless you are signing up to deliver this, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.” But it is… It can be an awkward situation.
30:29 MH: That reminds me of an analyst… The consultant in this organization, but they brought me in, and I was helping them out, and they were like, “Okay, we’ve got these tickets that have come in for this software it was back when I was web trends software consulting. And they pull up these tickets that they have gotten, and the first ticket they pull up is 18 months old.
30:50 MK: Oh, wow.
30:51 MH: And I’m like, “Well, as a starting point, maybe we should reach out to this person and see if they’re still care. Like it’s a year and half has gone by, and they haven’t heard a peep from you.” I was like, “Maybe we should just wait and see, like, “Hey, does this still matter? Because I don’t think it does.”
31:15 MH: Good time.
31:15 MK: Also, is that person that raised the tickets still at the company?
31:18 MH: Well, yeah. No. Yap, that’s a good question too, in this day and age. Anyways, there’s all kinds of extremes, but that’s why you need somebody to help with prioritization. And I agree with you, Tim, the more senior you get, and the more comfortable you get, you can create that structure. And I would feel Malcolm was pushing back on that kind of request today. At the time, I was just like, “Yeah, I’m here to help whenever you wanna help with. That’s what we’re gonna do.” And I think so you have to know who’s joining the company and the maturity level of the company, and the maturity level of the person I think factors into this. And again, this is more of the departmental onboarding, and for an analyst specifically onboarding. That’s probably a good tip that I think we’re circling around, which is as an analyst, if you’re coming into the organization, try to absorb a lot of information before jumping into a big project or task so that you can get the lay of the land of like what is the most crucial thing going on here right now?
32:23 MK: So do you think that there’s a difference though when you were coming into a new role versus replacing someone, especially replacing someone that’s still at the company? ‘Cause I have that going on right now where I’ve come into a particular role, someone else’s moving sideways to a slightly different team. And that timeline of, “When does she drop stuff? And I pick up stuff.” Like, “When am I the point-person?” is really not necessarily fleshed out. And I feel like sometimes when you’re new, it’s almost easier, because there’s no shoes to fill. It’s just I need to get up to speed and there’s no one I can ask, ’cause this didn’t exist before.
33:04 TW: So, let me draw the very clean, distinction that I am not speaking to your current situation [chuckle] with a current co-worker, but that does remind me, because there are cases where there is somebody who has either left or is moving into another role, and they might not have been doing things the way that you, especially if you’ve got some experience would wanna do it. And you wind up having… I agree with you, it’s easier coming in new and saying… Especially if you just dig deep and try to pretend that you’ve got some self-confidence, this is me talking about myself and saying, “This is the way that it should be done. I have experience, this is the way it should be done.”
33:40 TW: When it comes in from like, well gee, this person was spending an hour-and-a-half every morning manually compiling a 27-tab spreadsheet. And that person looking over your shoulder saying, “Yeah, this is what you need to do.” And you’re like, “This makes no sense. Let me ask the people if this is valuable,” that can get really awkward when you say… Or how much do you have to continue to do it, what they did, and the way they did it, and that kind of winds up being a: Okay, maybe I need to do it to show that I can, but I also don’t wanna do it for so long that I’ve set the precedent. So I agree that new can be easier.
34:18 MK: I feel like that’s probably the one time I use the Tim tactic, which I don’t condone at all of I will…
34:28 MH: The words and opinions expressed by Moe Kiss may be personally offensive to Tim.
34:33 MK: Not but what I’ll do is I will keep doing it the way that they’ve taught me, but then Tim was talking prior to recording about how Saturdays is quiet time. And I’ll use quite often a chunk of my own time to then automate that. So I keep basically doing it the way that I’ve been taught, trying and find some spare time on the side to automate it. And then I can be like, “Oh look, I have two more hours every day.” And I don’t necessarily… I tend to do that very gradually. It’s not like a overnight I’m gonna suddenly change all these processes. I tend to do it incrementally.
35:11 MH: Yeah, gradually. Yeah, and I think probably the three of us may be bad examples on the fact that here we are recording a podcast [laughter] about this stuff instead of enjoying our day.
35:26 MH: As sort of a self-selection bias type thing. But no, I think all of us spend personal time doing that kind of stuff, because we see the value in it, and it helps the company helps us. It just makes sense.
35:39 TW: Well, but it doesn’t have to be personal time. I’ve done that, I’ve been on the clock, where it’s like, yeah, no, this is just part of my day. It can be easier. It depends on the type of the company that you’re working at, but…
35:52 MH: Yeah. And I’m by no means recommending that people spend their personal time on work-related things. It’s more that all three of us have that specific unhealthy habit.
36:02 MK: That is true. But one thing I do wanna touch on is code. And one of the experiences I’ve had over last fortnight, which has been fucking incredible. So I happened to stumble upon on confluence a SQL guide. So that was basically the practices that we use for all of our code, and the conventions, and the rules. So I’d had a read through it and I was like, “Okay, this is really helpful,” like best practice for our code base, yadda, yadda, yadda. And then I got sent a PR, like a poll request and get to review for someone else’s code. And straight away, my mentor was like, “Oh hey, Moe, have you seen the this SQL guide?” And I was like, “Yes, I have.” And being able to have a reference guide, particularly for something like code or experimentation analysis is another one where there’s really good documentation on: This is the methodology we use, this is how we use it, this is the code, this is why these decisions were made in the code, means that you can go straight from…
37:04 MK: You basically can start reviewing someone else’s code straight away, because you have a piece of documentation to tell you, “This is how every person in the team does it. This is the convention we all use.” And I think that, especially if you’re in a bigger analytics team that is doing a lot of reviewing each other’s code, that is something I’d really, really suggest to people to have, whether you use R or Python or SQL.
37:25 TW: So camel case or snake case?
37:27 MH: Ooh, good question.
37:28 MK: What’s the one with little line?
37:30 TW: Underscore?
37:31 MK: Yeah.
37:32 TW: Snake case.
37:32 MK: Oh.
37:33 TW: Outstanding.
37:34 MK: I knew the other one was camel case, I didn’t know that was called snake case. You’ll learn something new every day.
37:39 MH: Great. You’re a fan of snake case and not camel case, Tim?
37:42 TW: I’m a fan of snake case, yes.
37:44 MK: Yeah, because camel case, if you use SQL in R and you use camel case, it gets obliterated when you run the SQL code in R and so then you end up having… It’s not actually camel case. So you kind of if you’re an R user end up having to use snake case.
38:06 MK: I do think it’s prettier.
38:07 TW: I totally couldn’t have rationalized mine in any way whatsoever.
38:11 MH: Okay. Moving on. So, I like your point though, Moe, any kind of standardization or nomenclature, taxonomies, standards, like, “Here’s how we do these things,” those are amazing. And we’ve always had ambitions to do more of that at SDI. And we’ve gotten in some good spots, and we’ve gotten now a creative guide and all these different things so that people know like, “Hey, when I wanna set up my signature file, I… ” Just all these different templates people can use, those are all parts of sort of what I call a growing org. It’s sort of like when you’re a small company with just a few people, it’s like, “Well nobody’s got time for that.” But when you get a little bigger and somebody creates something that’s great and you’re like, “Oh, let’s take that.” And we literally have a learning management system or LMS and so we could create courses that people can do through the onboarding process based on all this great material that people put out. A lot of people don’t know that Tim Wilson produces a secret video series on how to create great PowerPoints and send them out to the team and they’re frigging amazing.
39:23 MH: And that’s not really onboarding, but all that content is like that’s a really good class on how to set something up, how to think through your structure, how to design it, ’cause if you see Tim Wilson present, you know the guy is pretty solid.
39:37 MK: Well, I’m a big fan though of little tutorial, video tutorials of someone walking you through and I know some of the stuff exists on YouTube, but walking you through, “This is how you do this in Gate,” or, “This is, I don’t know, how you run this piece of code.” And I’ve seen a few of these lately Donald shot out from the UK, who a few months ago, reviewed some code for me. For me, that’s a really powerful way to have someone walk you through something and if they can record it while they’re doing it and then that content is always there for someone to look back at and watch.
40:11 TW: Well and Moe started to talk about measuring…
40:13 MK: Oh, can we say… Can we just say that one of the really cool things and the team actually came back to me and they’re like, “Oh Moe, you’ve been filling out the surveys.” I’m like, “Obviously, I’m in data and analytics, I’m filling out your survey.” But basically what they do is at multiple checkpoints in your onboarding, they ask you to rank out of five like, “Do you have a clear understanding of what you’re working on? Do you understand how your team contributes to company goals? Do you have all the tools and systems you need?” And there’s five questions that are all just a number of stars. But I think that’s such a cool thing to set up, even if you don’t have a full giant HR team so that you can actually measure how successful your onboarding is by how that person’s gaining understanding of their own role and what they’re supposed to be doing in their own experiences. So if anyone wants some advice on what to include in the survey, I’m happy to share that with them in measure cycle or whatever.
41:07 MH: Very nice. Yeah, so that’s pretty cool. Alright, so you may have ideas or tips or tricks, but keep ’em to yourself, ’cause Tim Wilson doesn’t wanna hear them.
41:18 MH: However, one thing, it’s just an onboarding thing for the rest of our listeners, one thing we like to do and it is a pure expression of our own personal opinion and not the opinions of our companies, is go around the horn and do a last call. Moe, why don’t we start with you? What’s your last thing?
41:36 MK: Well, this one’s…
41:37 MH: Is it Canva related? That would be hilarious.
41:41 MK: This is the exact… This is the SQL guide that we reference in our SQL guides. So basically it’s on GitHub, it’s by a guy called Fred Beneson, and basically he gives a series of examples of good and bad SQL code and the conventions and largely this is what our team have adopted. So I will share the link to that in Git. I also just think if you’re into SQL, it’s really cool. Sometimes you don’t think of what is good or bad until someone… ‘Til you read some of this stuff, and then you’re like, “Oh okay, that’s… Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.” So yeah, SQL guide for those who are interested.
42:19 TW: Nice.
42:20 MH: Very nice.
42:20 TW: Do you wanna go next Michael?
42:22 MH: Alright, sure. I’d love to go next. We’re a little less than a month away from one of my favorite conferences here in the US, which is the Digital Analytics Hub or the DA Hub Conference, and it’s a huddle based conference, which means you’re sitting down not listening to speakers, but you’re actually sitting across from other people and other organizations who are going through the same struggles and same triumphs and same challenges as you are, and you’re sharing best practices. And sometimes it’s eye opening and you learn new things, sometimes it’s a little bit of therapy and you realize we’re all facing the same challenges, but it’s always been one that I’ve felt enriched and energized and excited, and networked with some of the most amazing people in our industry. So September 9th to 11th. If you’re interested in that, go to digitalanalyticshub.com. No, I’m not getting paid to say it, would just like it a lot. And it’s my personal opinion and not the opinion of Search Discovery or anybody else.
43:23 TW: Oh, Jesus!
43:25 MH: I’m just trying to make sure we cover all the basis Moe. We’re very, very… We don’t wanna get sued. [laughter] That’s all.
43:31 TW: I feel like I’m gonna turn it around and do a last call. And I’m gonna say that it is the… Actually, it’s a last call from Search Discovery and not necessarily a last call that I personally endorse. Would that be…
43:42 MH: Yeah, sure. That sounds great!
43:48 MH: I cannot endorse this last call. But, go ahead, Tim. What’s your last call?
43:54 TW: So this is, this will appeal to a niche. It’s one of those where it’s a book, and it’s a book for those who are all interested in baseball, but are also in analytics. So there’s a guy named Ben Lindbergh who pops up on a podcast I listen to periodically. He’s the co-host of a daily podcast on baseball called Effectively Wild, which just seems daily.
44:15 MH: I know.
44:16 TW: So he and a guy named Sam Miller both work at a baseball prospectus, whatever. But a few years ago, back in 2014, they got… Basically found an independent league baseball team that agreed to let them call a lot of the shots from planning, and the book that came out of it is called “The Only Rule is it has To Work. Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team.” So these two guys basically got to do all the analytics stuff at a independent league, pretty low level team, the Sonoma Stompers, and it’s about their experience going through that. So it’s not a money ball kind of cleaned up to tell this glorious story of how analytics totally transformed things. It’s got more of a, the hitting the practical reality of human beings and taking analytics and putting it together and they alternate writing the chapters, and what wound up getting me to read it is that Ben Lindbergh has a new book out called “The MVP Machine, which I have not yet read, but it’s how baseball’s new non-performance reviews, using data to build better players. So for those who are mildly baseball inclined, I highly recommend “The Only Rule is it Has to Work.”
45:30 MH: Alright. Well, you’ve probably been listening and you’re thinking to yourself, “Huh, that wasn’t included in my onboarding,” or, “I’ve got so many better tips.” I would love for you to share them with us. And the best way is to get you onboarded to the Measure Slack, get you in there and start sharing with the community there, we’d love to hear from you. If you’ve got other ideas or things you’ve seen that have been great, terrible, onboarding, good, bad or indifferent, they don’t have to expressly reflect the views of your employer. We’ve made that pretty clear. And…
46:04 MK: I have no words.
46:06 MH: I’m just trying to be abundantly cautious in this age of GDPR and things like that. Anyway, we would love to hear from you. You can also reach us on our LinkedIn page or on Twitter. You might not know, but you should know that we’ve got a producer named Josh Crowhurst who’s helped us create this show and we’re very thankful to him. And if you find him on social media, give him a high five as well. Alright, thank you so much for listening. I think I speak for Tim and Moe when I tell you no matter where you are in the onboarding process, one thing you should always do is keep analyzing.
46:52 Announcer: Thanks for listening. And don’t forget to join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or Measure Slack group. We welcome your comments and questions. Visit us on the web at analyticshour.io, facebook.com/analyticshour, or at Analytics Hour on Twitter.
47:11 Charles Barkley: So smart guys wanted to fit in so they’ve made up a term called analytics. Analytics don’t work.
47:19 Tom Hammerschmidt: Analytics. Oh my God, what the fuck does that even mean?
47:28 TW: I can’t give my career coordinator, no wait, my trip advisor, my flight advisor… Flight attendant. My flight attendant.
47:35 MH: Peanuts or pretzels?
47:38 TW: Oh my God.
47:38 MH: Oh he was expressed to the… The first part.
47:45 MH: Yeah. Well and of course if anybody does sue us, they’re certainly entitled to as much revenue as we’ve taken in.
47:55 MH: We’ll just give up right away. You can has as much money as we’ve made. Tim, why is your arm in a sling?
48:05 TW: That was my fourth of July.
48:07 MH: What happened?
48:11 TW: Well, what we came up with was that there was a shark, and my daughter was there and so I had to punch the shark and that was okay, it was when I took my daughter with one arm and threw her out of harms way… And all the sudden now you’ve got that personal connection established and that’s gonna… That will last for…
48:29 MK: Wait, you seek personal connections? Deep and meaningful ones?
48:34 MH: I didn’t say deep and meaningful.
48:36 MK: What’s the timeline to friendship?
48:39 MH: Remember the views expressed by Tim Wilson are…
48:43 TW: If you have not seen vows exchanged and traveled across continents, then there is no deep and meaningful friendship there.
48:55 MH: I do introduce Tim as my close personal friend.
49:04 TW: What’s Google’s called where it’s lower case, it’s not quite camel case because it’s lower case for the first… That’s not camel case, that’s…
49:10 MH: Yeah, any new word, the first letter’s capitalized.
49:14 TW: No, but wasn’t the first one with an initial capital versus not is a…
49:18 MK: Officially down the rabbit hole.
49:19 TW: It’s a thing.
49:21 MH: Well, I think it’s a pretty important part of onboarding for the podcast, because we gotta figure this out. Tabs or spaces, Tim? We’ve come to this.
49:30 MH: Okay. Moving on.
49:35 MH: And when we onboarded you to the podcast, which has been quite some time ago, it was pretty clear that we don’t say “frickin.”
49:45 MK: We should do a show.
49:46 MH: We should do a show. Are we ready? Let me onboard you.
49:52 TW: Rock flag and welcome. Do your fucking job.
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I came all the way over here to post a comment because I generally respect the podcast – except for one issue. Did you know you dropped the F bomb at least 8 times in this episode? I doubt people who use the F bomb really want to hear it. I turned it off after a few of these because – maybe it’s just me, but I find it shocking when people present themselves as authorities in a profession but who are constantly, and without thoughtfulness, dropping he F bomb. It isn’t a good image. Really.