#146: The Manager/Analyst Relationship

Analytics is hard (so they say… but we’re not going to open THAT can of worms). Do you know what’s harder? Managing analysts! I mean, they’re always asking, “Why?” Sometimes, they even ask it five times! They can wind up, you know, analyzing whatever you’re asking them to do! On this episode, special guest Moe Kiss (you may know her as a co-host of this podcast) joined Michael and Tim to dig into the ins and outs of the analyst/manager relationship.

People, Ideas, and R Packages Mentioned in the Show

Episode Transcript

[music]

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 146.

00:36 MH: When in the course of human events, it comes time for an analyst to become a manager or when an analyst has a manager, you have to figure some stuff out to make that relationship work. Sometimes it can feel like the manager is a little threatened or doesn’t like the analysts coming up with all these ideas or asking why. Sometimes the manager’s great and helps spur the analyst forward in their career. This show was actually based on a suggestion from a listener, Raphael Sahagun and I am sorry in advance, Raphael. I hope I got your name right but thank you so much for the suggestion. Okay Tim, this is the perfect episode for us to finally dive deep into our issues based on the short period of time that I was your manager. [chuckle]

01:25 Tim Wilson: That’s perfect. It’s airing of grievances? Can we start now? Can we start now? Can I start now?

01:30 MH: Let’s get the intro out.

01:31 TW: How about now?

01:32 MH: And I’m Michael Helbling, sometimes an analyst and sometimes a manager but we needed a guest. Someone who could give us a nice balance of perspective on being both a modern analyst and an excellent manager. Moe Kiss is the Marketing Analytics Lead at Canva. She’s also the co-host of the wildly popular Digital Analytics Power Hour podcast and today, she is our co-host and guest sort of. Welcome!

01:58 Moe Kiss: This is really weird.

02:00 MH: I know, isn’t it weird?

[laughter]

02:00 MH: Okay so not really but it is sort of like I look at it and be like yeah this… Moe, you’re the perfect person to talk to about this topic so you’re a…

02:09 MK: Yeah, let’s just throw your decades of experience down the toilet and forget about that.

02:13 MH: Again, I think we should make the point that Moe you are the only current manager of people that is a host of the podcast right now so yeah.

02:23 MK: That’s terrifying.

02:24 MH: Well, I think it’s just the way things work sometimes so we depend on your wisdom to get us through this show.

02:31 TW: It’s why we bring you coffee, it’s why we defer to you at every turn. I mean…

02:35 MH: That’s right. So Moe, what do you think we should talk about next?

[laughter]

02:40 MH: Just kidding. Let’s jump into it ’cause I think one of the things that was brought up was sort of this first kinda negative sounding idea where it’s like, are managers sometimes threatened by the ideas or insights brought forward by the team that they’re managing? So maybe we should dig into that just a little bit.

03:01 TW: Well so…

[laughter]

03:05 MH: I’m just watching this game of chicken happen between Moe and Tim about who’s gonna talk first. They’re like “No, you.” “No, you.”

03:12 MK: Whereas normally it’s like “No, me. No, me.”

03:17 MH: So what’s really great about that I observed there and I’m sorry that our listeners can’t see the video was the amazing delegation skills that Moe exhibited as a manager.

[laughter]

03:29 TW: ‘Cause I am about to speak. I certainly, when I did manage and we, I think have covered before that I explicitly actively have worked to not be a manager of analysts for a range of reasons. When I have worked for managers, for the most part, I have not… Well one, when I was managing, that is such a foreign concept. It seems so destructive and I don’t even know… Like that’s crazy to me. When it comes to the managers that I’ve had, I haven’t run into it. Moe had made a note that she had which was why I was trying to let her delegate everything she points at me sticks back to her.

04:12 MK: I guess, well the reason that I was happy for you to go first is because I feel like when I say my thing, it’s kind of resolute and I’m just shutting the book on that but basically, if you have a manager that feels threatened by you, you have a really shitty manager.

[chuckle]

04:29 MK: If you have a manager that doesn’t want you to be too great because then you’re gonna outshine them, I would run. That is the worst kind of manager. For me, if my team does an amazing job, that means that I as a manager have done a great job and I would define my own success as a people manager by how amazing my team is doing so if you have someone that instead sees that as threatening, they suck.

04:55 MH: Yeah.

04:56 TW: Well and I think sometimes and whether they’re consciously seeing it, I think they’re potentially are the cases, there’s kind of the inverse of it. That I need to… Well, it’s not the inverse. What doesn’t resonate with me as the role of the manager is “I am the manager. I therefore I am smarter. I’m more experienced. I know more. You are a less expensive version of me who will not do quite as well.” I think sometimes to me, you watch people when they move into being a manager. Whereas I’ve always felt both with the managers I’ve had, as well as when I’ve been a manager that no, there’s plenty of stuff that the underling knows better, can do better, has greater strengths and have always sort of seen it as more of kinda being part of a team but I can see if there are, I don’t know. Presumably, just a show of kind of insecurity and/or just kind of a distorted view of what effective management is.

05:56 MK: I’m not gonna lie though. I’d love to borrow a tiny little bit of that confidence because I definitely don’t feel like I think I’m the smartest person. In fact, I would actively go out of my way to hire people that are smarter than me. You’re the smartest person in your team, you’re doing something wrong. But having a bit of confidence, a bit more confidence would be I guess a nice thing.

06:19 MH: It’s true. Okay. So you’ve resolutely closed the book on it Moe but actually, I’ll give a slight counterpoint. Not that people should be but I wanna share a little experience that I thought was actually instructive and helpful from the other angle, which is, as an analyst, I was a really inquisitive little shit and I was always asking why we were doing this and what’s the reason for that and picking apart everything because I wanted it; A, I wanted to know. I’m very curious and I wanted to tear it apart but it also was slowing some stuff down too and I actually had a really great manager at that time and she did a great job of giving me the feedback of, we don’t always have the luxury of being able to get all of the why of everything and so I can’t… I need you to not do that.

07:10 MH: She was a great manager but I was pushing a lot on the boundaries all the time and it was really good. We were actually able to work out a really great solution to that problem and I learned a ton from that situation so it can go both ways but I agree, if you get the sense of my manager’s trying to shut me down because I’m smarter… ’cause I had a boss one time who was really offended by me and even told my boss’ boss that I was a terrible employee.

07:42 MK: Wow!

07:43 MH: And then they left the organization and the boss’ boss then became my boss and was like “I don’t know why they didn’t like you.”

[laughter]

07:54 TW: Well but it’s probably worth separating the… There is the uncomfortable conversations, even a manager telling somebody to do something like “Look, we’ve gotta make a call.” or “Maybe I haven’t fully brought you along but look, in this case, this is how I wanna play it. This is how we’re gonna proceed. We’re not gonna discuss it anymore.” Hopefully that’s rare. I think that is a different… So it doesn’t mean there can’t be uncomfortable or unpleasant interactions. Even providing constructive feedback, that’s one of the… That’s inherently uncomfortable, separate from the, threatened by and I’m not even sure. Sometimes you maybe have to kinda think through, are you telling yourself a story? Well, they keep giving me that feedback because they’re threatened by me. There’s two sides to every…

08:50 MH: Way to bring up a Brené Brown concept there Tim, good job!

[laughter]

08:54 MH: The Story I Tell Myself.

08:57 MK: Oh I love The Story I Tell Myself but there is this idea and I do see it… And to be honest, I have the same thing which is probably why I recognize it, where I feel like people that are early in their career, they just desperately wanna progress because progression feels like a sign of moving forward and they wanna take on more and they wanna do more and that’s all really good stuff but there’s also a fine line between your manager I guess acknowledging “Yep, you’re ready for that next step” and being like “Hang on a minute, we need to work on these couple of things.” and I can see how for some people that might feel like they’re being… You’re being threatened when actually it’s like the manager actually might have really good intent.

09:46 MK: It’s just the reality of they might have more experience and realize you’re kind of not ready for that next step for various reasons and so yeah, I think you have to be a little bit careful to make sure you really understand their intentions but I think that all comes down to trust and I fucking hate that like “feedback is a gift” it’s such a load of shit. Feedback is really useful if you trust the person that’s giving you feedback.

10:16 MH: That’s a great point.

10:18 MK: I know I had a manager who used to just give me feedback left, right and center and I didn’t think his intentions were good so it was like… It was not helpful at all and so for me, when I’ve got a new staff member, my first three to six months, the only thing I give a shit about is building a relationship and forming trust. That to me… ’cause you can’t ask them to do a task without context or you can’t push them into an uncomfortable space unless you build that trust and so if you’re not sure about the intentions of your manager, I would be trying to work on building that relationship.

10:53 MH: You just defined almost Moe, the first layer of successful teams, which is building psychological safety.

11:02 MK: I would say I also hate that term because I’m like… People are like “We have a psychologically safe work. We can say whatever we want.” and then it’s like no actually, just because you said that doesn’t mean I can suddenly share my opinion without retribution.

11:14 MH: Yeah. So when I was a kid, Karate Kid was a huge movie and every kid wanted to be a Karate person.

11:22 TW: The one with Jaden Smith?

11:23 MH: A lot of… No.

11:26 TW: Is that right? Did I even get that right?

11:28 MH: Yes. Yes you did. Great job.

11:30 TW: Okay, that is amazing. Okay. You’re talking Ralph Macchio, okay.

11:34 MH: Yeah, sick reference. No yeah, Ralph Macchio, Karate Kid and so every level the kids will be doing Karate and there’d be kids who run around but eventually you’d run into someone who actually knows Karate and the thing of it is, is the people who know Karate don’t talk about knowing Karate. Same thing with companies and cultures that actually create psychological safety, they don’t talk about psychological safety and so it’s like the more people say “Oh, we’re an open environment. We’re an honest culture. We’re this and… ” Oh no, the lady doth protest too much. It’s basically like the story they tell themselves is that and in reality, it’s probably a facade.

12:20 TW: So what sorts of things do you do? I like the building trust and you because you’re you Moe probably do it much more consciously and deliberately but what does that actually look like? And I guess there’s two ways. There’s one, you move into a manager role where you had been working with people, I guess does that also apply if you’ve hired somebody new from the outside. “Hey, I’m the manager of the team. We’ve gone through and hired… ” is it the same thing and what does that actually look like?

12:51 MK: I don’t know ’cause I was in that place when I was at THE ICONIC where I went to becoming a people manager and the thing was like I was then managing people that were really, really good friends that I’d worked with for years. I don’t know. I feel like people really struggle with that step and I kind of don’t get it because… And this is gonna sound like the most corny crap I’ve ever said. I had a woman in my team who English was her second language and I worked really closely with her on developing her public speaking skills and she said to me when I left, she was like “Moe, you were my leader before you were ever my manager and you’ll be my leader long after you’re ever my manager. So for me, whether you’re my manager or not is kind of irrelevant because you’re always that person that’s just kind of championing me and helping me with these skills.” which I’m not gonna lie, was the most beautiful, lovely thing anyone’s ever said to me.

13:48 MK: And it sounds so corny but I actually had this conversation with a woman in my team yesterday that I’m dying for her to start coaching staff and she’s kind of like “Well, what do I need to do to take the next step?” And I’m like “You don’t… You’re already doing it. You’re already coaching junior people in the team. You’re already sitting and working on PRs and that change of title shouldn’t change anything that you’re doing really other than you’re suddenly responsible for taking HR forms and approving leave but the kind of person you are and the way that you’re working with your teammates should kind of be the same.”

14:23 TW: I think that’s… It is challenging to see some degree of sort of… There are different styles. There are different management styles. I think to your people wanting to progress, I thought you were gonna head to the path of especially younger, newer to the workforce, it’s like seen as like that’s the big… That’s the step is when I become a manager and they have an idea of managing that… As you were talking, I was thinking “Yeah, that’s when kind of the holding people back and saying… ” and I’ve had worked with or parallel to managers who’ve said “Look, we’re not promoting you to a management role where that person is reporting to you but you know what, we have an intern coming on and you can sort of oversee the intern for the summer.” or “Why don’t you take on leading this project… ” and that whole thing around yes, you can still have responsibility where you’re providing guidance and some degree of oversight and you’re now accountable for work that is not purely produced by you and I’ve watched…

15:28 TW: I’ve watched some people who were so chomping at the bit to like I wanna progress, progress, progress, progress and in their mind, it is like “Until I have a direct report, that’s not happening.” We had years ago at an agency where agencies… They’re right up there with banks with title inflation so what’s the most junior level person is a manager… That’s your manager and this person literally, she got hired, she came in and a week in was like “I don’t understand. I’m a manager, who’s working for me?” and it’s like, how did you get through all of the interviewing process? You’re 23 years old. But I don’t know. So that goes back to the individual figuring out what they’re… And there are people who do wanna lead people and really, really get jazzed by that but it’s like the jump to manager and checking off the boxes of the… Like you said, the HR forms and that’s the administrative grind part of it, the effective managers is much more about being able to read people, figure out their strengths, shift things around, build the trust, allow for personal growth and professional growth and I think that’s just kind of what is a manager is something people struggle with.

16:49 MH: Yeah.

16:49 MK: I do think that’s why so many companies now are coming up and to be honest even in Analytics at the moment, I’m working on how I can build out like four different tracks for progression. So lots of companies now are starting to work down their Team Lead Manager Track and then the individual contributors so I actually love how Atlassian do it, where they have a principal data scientist for this product and that basically means you’re in the meetings, you’re helping make the decisions but you don’t necessarily manage people and I love that concept because I do think it’s really important to have progression that is not just becoming a people manager because it kind of poisons the well a bit when you have people that don’t really wanna manage people but they want progression, it always ends in disaster.

17:36 MH: Yeah and that’s the problem with so many corporate environments. The easiest mindset that I have or the most basic way that I think about sort of manager versus individual contributor is it’s a shift in thinking about where success gets generated. If I’m an individual contributor then I create success based on my efforts. If I’m a manager, that success happens through other people and so it means giving up getting direct credit for the successes of what’s gonna happen. Now, a good corporate environment will understand that those successes are happening because of a great leader but this is probably where people run into problems, is when they still think like an individual contributor as like the success has to be mine so it has to be my idea, it has to be my feet… I’ve gotta be up in front presenting. I’ve gotta be the one showing everybody how smart I am.

18:34 MH: And not understanding that actually your success is much more dictated by how you make everybody on your team shine from here. Like how do I make them as awesome and as enabled as they can be and then I think another thing where I wanna take this conversation… Another direction I wanna take this conversation is the actual role of the analyst itself. I actually think it’s really special in a corporate environment. There’s not a lot of people who function as analysts. So I’d like us to maybe talk about that just a little bit too because in a certain sense, I think managing an analyst represents a somewhat unique challenge versus a lot of other roles.

19:18 MK: I feel like analysts are often seen as especially… Well, especially Canva with my team, we’re often seen as the neutral voice of reason where we’re not invested so let’s say finance and the marketing team are discussing things to do with budget and ROI and LTV and all of this stuff, the analyst is the neutral party that kinda doesn’t have a stake in the game. They’re just… They’re often looked to as like hey, what’s your advice? Because I know you don’t care if we increase their budget or if we change their ROI. ROI, KPIs, it’s like what’s just the best decision based on the data you’ve got.

20:00 MK: And I’m not saying that analysts are without bias and yada yada yada but I do think they can be that kind of neutral voice of reason and that often means they’re involved in conversations that they probably wouldn’t be if they were in any other role in the company so you might be sitting in meetings with executives, you’re exposed to more of the company I sometimes feel than other people at the same level in different roles.

20:30 TW: I had a manager… I’ve talked about it on the podcast before who, she was running our BI department, which was different from what I think BI should be. This was 20 years ago and she said you know, we actually in many ways know the business better than the people we’re supporting because we’re inherently working kind of across data sets and across groups and that was one of the reasons that we would recruit people from in the organization who had subject matter expertise around an area or a process and then would come in but it sounded like… On the one hand, it sounds like a lot of hubris but on the other hand, it’s kind of the reality because in order to pull and interpret the data, you have to understand where it’s coming from and get a little more down in the weeds and then often we’re trying to look at something happening at point X, what is the impact at point Z so it starts to bridge across different areas so that stuck with me ’cause the more… When I took over managing that group from her, that totally stuck with me where I realized we would be in conversations.

21:46 TW: But that also goes to… It can be scary. As a manager, prepping someone to say hey, you’re an analyst on my team. Yeah, you’re gonna be three levels down from anybody else in that room and you need to not be afraid to ask a question but you also need to not shit the bed with… You also need to triple-check your data. All those other… So I think that aspect of back to the manager analyst relationship of how do you support them going in ’cause you can have the manager that says “Oh. That’s gonna be too scary for you. I don’t know. I don’t want you to embarrass the department.” Not necessarily thinking about themselves so they will go in but there’s this art to saying…

22:31 MK: That’s a sign of a crap manager. A good manager is someone that pushes you that little bit. Basically, if your manager is always in those meetings, if your manager is always the one presenting at like show and tells or stand-ups and things like that, to me that’s a problem. You should be involving your team in that stuff and that means little step by step.

22:56 TW: You went full throttle from… I think there is, if you get somebody new, there is kind of a degree of easing them in and there is kind of a case…

23:06 MK: Oh, for sure but you would support them and be like… For example, there’s a girl on my team who’s never presented at a group show and tell which is like 200 people.

23:17 TW: I’m not even talking about presenting, so that was not remotely the point I was trying to make.

23:21 MK: I’m not saying it’s the point you were trying to make… I was…

23:24 TW: But you were like, that’s a shit manager. Okay.

23:26 MK: No, a shit manager is someone who makes the decision that you’re not ready to be in that room without having a conversation. The way that I would handle that is, have the conversation with the person. I want you to be in that room. What can we do together to get you ready for that? If you make a decision that that person is not ready to be in that room and you never have the conversation with them, I think that’s a problem. You should be prepping that person and helping support them and what are the little things we can do? Can we get you to present a weekly leads meeting first so you have some practice before you go into a room that’s got a bunch of executives but if you’re, as a manager making that decision without ever talking to the staff member, you’re not giving them the chance to step up.

24:13 TW: I agree with the first part. I just wanna be clear that I was more talking about when you need to be in a discussion where questions are being asked, where ultimately it is more requirements… I wasn’t in any way thinking about who’s presenting in that room. I was thinking… I was specifically in my mind thinking, we’re talking about the product strategy or the marketing strategy and we need to have someone who can listen and has enough experience and sometimes what’s weird is it’s like well, we should go, ideally and I run into this now and I’m not managing anybody saying well no, I can’t drop that person in and actively engage and come out of that and help participate in the discussion, help guide the discussion, come out knowing and able to put together a plan for what we’re gonna do. I can’t just drop them in on their own, it’s tough sometimes to say, we should go in together so you can sort of observe and see and hear and I think that advocating for it and saying “Yeah. I’m bringing that person along.”

25:20 TW: Are they gonna sit quietly for these meetings and probably not say anything? Yeah and you know what? That’s okay. They’re welcome to speak but they need to hear the discussion, they need to hear the interaction, they need to hear how we operate and that can be sometimes kind of a challenge ’cause they’re like “Why are they coming? They’re aren’t contributing anything?” It’s like “Well, ’cause I would have liked them to contribute at some point and they’re not gonna do it if I just come back and describe what happened in the meeting.”

25:51 MK: Would you have stakeholders… I think shadowing is a great recommendation and it’s a really good way to prep people for those meetings but I would never have other people in the meeting who’d be like “Why is that person here?” I’d be like “Hey, they’re shadowing. I wanna grow their responsibility and their profile. This is an opportunity for them to start to understand what happens in these meetings so that eventually they can go in my place.” I feel like other people would support that.

26:15 TW: Well definitely on the agency side, you have to be very careful with how it’s communicated, whether or not they’re being charged for that person sitting there which can be… It can totally be finessed and even that you’re… But I think even that again, gets back to, if it is a small group of people who’ve worked together and they’re very senior and they know each other and yeah, you’re bringing in somebody who these people don’t know, it is gonna change the dynamic even with just being in the room so again, I don’t think it’s like a black and white like “What the hell are they doing here?” Ideally, that’s an opportunity for the manager to say “Hey, this person has a lot of potential but she has not actually observed these. Just so you know, I’m gonna bring her along and I’m not telling her not to speak.” I mean, probably there’s still a degree of prepping but it’s like “No, it’s not. Sit over in the corner and just watch.” But it’s also like “Look, don’t feel like you have to chime in.”

27:13 TW: We’ve all worked with those people who’ve been told that if you should never go for more than… If you’re in a meeting and you don’t speak, that just annoys the shit out of me. When they’re like “Oh. I’m gonna talk now because I haven’t spoken so therefore I’m gonna open my mouth and interrupt the flow of the conversation.”

27:30 MK: I got asked that in an interview once. I had to do a group interview when I was the only woman. I was in a interview with 11 white dudes and there was four different exercises we had to do and in one of them, I didn’t contribute a whole lot and they asked me, they’re like “Why didn’t you say anything during that session?” and I’m like “Well, I didn’t know very much about the topic that we were talking about” so that was a good chance for me to listen. I contributed lots in the other three sessions because it was somewhere I could add a lot of value and the fact that they noticed, I thought was kind of weird. I didn’t take the job by the way.

[laughter]

28:03 MH: 12 person interview. Wow.

28:06 MK: But yeah it’s funny actually, just looping back on that point about bringing someone along, we actually… We’ve had some agencies pitching at Canva and there was one agency that had brought someone quite junior along. They were grad, they were in their first year in the job and someone actually said like “Oh, that’s so weird. They would have a grad on our account. The president of the company was there and all these big faluting people and someone actually pointed it out as like “Oh well, we don’t really want a grad on our account” and I actually was like “I think it’s fantastic that they’ve got a grad pitching a huge client, like a big client, a big meeting and they’re making space for people like that in the meeting. I think that’s really cool.” So you’re right. I can see how from an agency perspective, that dynamic would be quite different.

28:55 MH: Yeah. Well, so I think there’s a rule of thumb or a thing to look for both as an analyst and a manager. As an analyst, if there is this pattern where you’re not getting looped into some of these things, that’s what you should be looking for. There could be reasons why like this is not the right time or this isn’t the right meeting and I agree with you Moe, communication is the best way, just have that conversation.

29:17 MH: I also think there’s something for managers here which is if you feel uncomfortable asking your analyst into this meeting or you feel like they’re not ready and you should look into why that is. Why do I feel that way? What are they not ready for? What are their gaps? Where do I need to make sure I’m providing growth opportunities so that they can do that? And maybe that’s just not who they’re gonna be but then how do I make sure that I’m giving them a full experience or giving them opportunities where they want them to grow?

29:43 MH: So I think both sides should look… It’s a great way because I think when we encourage participation specifically, it’s a great way to kind of give ourselves a little gut check. “Am I being too controlling? Am I nervous? Do I feel like my analyst isn’t the right quality?” There’s all kinds of things that might be going on in that conversation and if I don’t have the trust as a manager, that’s another thing to look at. Maybe I’ve got the wrong analyst and as an analyst, if I’m never getting those chances, well maybe I’ve got the wrong manager.

30:15 MK: Totally agree.

30:16 MH: So getting both sides of that, really good to explore.

30:19 TW: How do you deal… I mean one of those being like well, this is a person who has got in their mind that they really wanna do X. They’re super talented at Y. X, they just aren’t really clicking. If I could change what their interest is. Like there’s sort of two sides. There’s the person who says “I wanna grow that way” and you’re like “Man, it just seems like you’re so much better at this other thing.” The other is, I would say worse is when they’re like “Tell me what I needed to do in advance” and I’m like “I don’t know. What do you care about it?”

30:54 MK: That’s the stupidest question.

30:58 TW: No. I’ve got four stories on that one but have you run into that though, where you’ve got somebody who is super great communicator? That’s a bad example.

31:13 MK: I think the thing and I was chatting about this with a friend the other day who I actually used to manage and I do this to myself a lot where I set my personal goals and I try and set goals that are around people management and then I also try and set really technical goals and I fail every single time. I think you can focus on really technical things and I think you can focus on people management stuff or like what I mean is two very diverse topics. I think it’s stupid to try and do them at the same time. I think it would be a much stronger strategy to be like “I’m gonna spend the next three to six, nine, 12, whatever your time period is, it doesn’t matter, focused on this thing and I’m gonna put 100% of my energy towards, I don’t know, developing my AI or doing professional coaching training and then I’m gonna spend the next six to 12 months focusing on say, my analytics engineering skills and you don’t necessarily have to be really good at it to focus your attention on it.

32:11 MK: It’s just about picking the thing at that point in time that you wanna focus on and putting your energy towards that rather than… ’cause I always do this where I’m like “You need to be more technical but you’re really good at communication stuff” so I trick myself into thinking I need to do both at the same time and it just doesn’t work.

32:31 TW: The beauty of OKRs. We’re back to where we… Before we started recording.

32:35 MH: Yeah. Well and I think I can just use myself as an example for this Tim. I felt for a long time “Oh, I should be like this or I feel pressured to be like this when in reality; A, maybe I wasn’t ready or it wasn’t even the right set of skills for me to really push into.” and it took a long time to sort of merge myself with my job role in a way that made me feel like I was doing the maximum I could do. Like making the best contribution so from a management perspective, I’m pretty open. People say like “This is what I wanna do. I wanna be a data scientist.” It’s like “Okay but I know you’re not… That isn’t you.”

33:16 MK: You kind of suck at that. I still let them do it.

33:19 MH: Yes. Exactly and I still support them because what I wanna do is say “I’m gonna support what you wanna do. I’m also gonna ask you to do the things I know you need to do.” But I feel like it’s a two-way street and if they’re gonna provide the effort and the push and the interest, then I don’t ever wanna squash that ’cause part of being a great analyst is having that mentality so as a manager, I sort of feel like or as a leader, I feel like “I want that to always be going.” ’cause that’s gonna… That’s, maybe this is not gonna… Where it’s gonna come out in the best way but it’s gonna come out somewhere awesome, somewhere else and it may take time but that’s sort of what I look at when I think of… That’s, the beauty of an analyst is they’re very special. I have a really high opinion of what an analyst is and it’s really cool when you see a great analyst do their thing, like Tim Wilson, for instance, the quintessential analyst. Boo-yeah! I got it.

34:16 TW: Really? Really?

34:17 MK: But I had that data science example come up and to be honest, this person’s never gonna be the greatest data scientist ever but I also don’t think your job as a manager is to be like “Well, you suck at that thing, you shouldn’t do it.” I’m like “Go spend six, nine, 12 months. Explore that. Throw your energy at it and… ” You gotta learn this stuff for yourself. They’ve go to figure out what they’re good at as well and it’s kinda not… I don’t think it’s a waste of time. They’re gonna learn a bunch of stuff but they’re also probably gonna be able to self-identify what their strengths are a little bit better after that experience and the best career advice I ever got was from Gillian Triggs who used to be the president of the Human Rights Commission in Australia and I spoke to her in Canva after she presented at something and I said to her, I was like “If you could go back in time and be 25 again, what advice would you give yourself?” and she’s like “I was just so obsessed with climbing the ladder” and she’s like “I would spend more time in the weeds.”

35:19 MK: “Go spend a year focusing on data science. Go spend a year focused on analytics engineering.” I think we all have this thing where we wanna progress so quickly but she’s like “The best managers are the ones that spend a bit of time in all the different pockets and you don’t just become like T-shaped, you become like… ” I’m trying to do an E which no one else can see but you have all these different broad experience which will ultimately make you a better manager so if someone wants to spend 12 months because they think they wanna be a data scientist, I’m like “Cool. You’re gonna learn a bunch of stuff.” And that’s okay.

35:56 TW: So a clarification and a question. So if anybody’s trying to get an E and try to figure out what the hell Moe was doing, it was an E rotated 90 degrees so that the tying’s were pointing down. If somebody does say… If they say “I wanna… ” I think that data science is a great example, if they say “I wanna go… I wanna be a data scientist” How much do you take it on yourself to say “Okay, then let’s focus on that. I wanna help you. Let’s talk about what are you planning to do for the next three, six?” What does that mean? Does that mean you’re gonna spend… And hey, we can adjust every three months ’cause I think that’s the other… “I wanna be a data scientist. I haven’t even really defined what that is. I just know it’s sexy and that’s what these other cool people do and sometimes there’s… ” Is that a fair role of the manager to say “Great. I wanna support you and I also wanna get value out of you while you’re doing that so we wanna be clear on what it is that you’re focusing on so that if there are projects where we can actually give you meaningful work to do as you’re exploring that.

37:03 TW: But let’s actually say if you’re gonna focus on that, I as a manager, I’m gonna hold you somewhat accountable to that in the near term to say what is it you’re doing and you know what, three months from now and along the way as well, but three months from now we’ll talk about okay, how’s that pursuit of data science. Yeah. So I guess, what do you guys… How do you feel about that?

37:25 MH: Yeah, I think a lot of times you have to kind of adjust your leadership style to the person. So, adaptation, so I feel like there’s different personalities that you will come into contact with that need different things from you. Some people need you to be much more direct, and some people need you to be laid back and be encouraging and supportive. And so you have to kind of adjust how you… So if they said, “That’s what I wanna do, I wanna do data science.” Be like, “Okay, sure. Here’s the budget, go sign up and take a course. Come back and report.” And then if they don’t do it and be like, “Well, I guess you didn’t wanna do data science. Did you?” And maybe that’s like the kick in the pants they need that’s gonna motivate them or do with it. But if it’s somebody who’s more of questioning themselves like “Maybe I wanna do data science, I’m not sure.” Then you say, “Well, let’s tease that out a little bit. What makes you happy? What gives you joy?” So like You adjust your style based on what that person needs in terms of support, ’cause sometimes it’s the best thing that you can do for somebody is be like, give them a ton of rope and watch them really fuck it up.

38:31 MH: And then come back and be like, Alright, so that’s fucked right. Alright, let’s get back on the horse tomorrow, let’s get back at it. And they’re better off, whereas other someone that will crush them, that would be like the worst thing. I could never show my face in the office again. Right. So how I operate, obviously, I’m not that confident about those things, so I need somebody who will kind of encourage me and be like, You can do it, Michael, keep in there and that kind of stuff, but other people might need somebody to just say, “Hey, get out there and go get them Tiger.” And the problem comes when you get a manager with one style and a person needs another style and they’re like, “Why isn’t Michael responding to my go-get ’em hard-charging management style? Obviously, he’s not a team player.” Right? And the rest is history.

39:21 MK: I try, especially with the data science one, ’cause I’ve had a few, quite a few staff that wanna go down that path. I try and balance it a little bit by setting some goals that are within the workplace, but also getting them to focus on some personal goals. So the personal goals might be related to courses that they wanna do in their own time or learnings that they wanna do, but then try and pick… So one of the girls at the moment is doing a really amazing project and we’ve buddied her up with one of the data scientists at the company, and basically it’s like productionising a model that she’s built into our data pipeline using the data science infrastructure that they use. And it’s still something that’s very relevant for her role as an analyst, but the productionising it in the pipeline bit is very data science heavy, so she’s still adding value to the business from her analytics hat, but then she’s getting to stretch herself that bit by having a data science buddy. So I just try and balance it, and if they don’t wanna do any personal goals around it, then I also just don’t think they really wanted to do it that much.

40:30 TW: And we can agree. If somebody says they really wanna become a data translator, then that you just put them on a performance management plan, and then kinda get them out of the company, is that… Yeah, sorry.

40:41 MK: Actually, the one I really struggle with is lots of people that they tell me they want to… It’s not called a data strategist, but they wanna work on strategy. And I had one guy who was like…

40:55 TW: But they don’t wanna really do the… They… Oh Yeah.

41:00 MK: He was like… I was like, “Oh, so do you wanna learn SQL?” He’s like, “No, I don’t wanna learn SQL.” And I’m like, “Cool. How are you gonna get the data to write your strategy stuff?”

41:07 TW: “No, I really, I really, really like the data, really like analytics, but it’s more just kind of like the… “Yeah, that’s where I had a lady, she was changing… I had worked with her, never managed her, and then she came and told me that she was like, whoever is Gartner, Forrester, whoever came up with the fucking data translator thing. She’s like, I found this thing ’cause I’m like…

41:29 MH: McKinsey.

41:31 TW: You’re telling you… Was it McKinsey?

41:32 MH: Yeah.

41:33 TW: Probably it was McKinsey. Yeah, it makes sense. Yeah. We all need to be data translators. And I’m like, No, that is somebody who actually doesn’t really have the fire in their belly for one thing, but they really like the idea that I wanna be in The Sexiest Job of the 20th century or 21st century, or whatever it is.

41:52 MH: Yeah. Those people just need a kick in the pants sometimes. Who usually like, I wanna be a strategist. “Oh, describe the difference between tactics and strategy, please.” And then they’re just gonna be like, “Bluek.” And they’re gonna fail that and then it’d be like, “Alright, go back to work.” And it depends on the person, obviously. And I think all of us are tempted by that, so I don’t think any of us can sort of be like, oh, I’ve never had that thought, or at least Tim probably never had that thought. He works really hard. I don’t like to work that hard. So I think about that all the time.

42:26 MK: I also had a data scientist who was like, “I just wanna do the sexy stuff.” And I was like, “That’s not the fucking job.”

42:33 TW: I want somebody else to pull and do all the cleansing, I just wanna run the model. Yeah.

42:38 MK: Yeah, and I actually got really… I really had to challenge myself to not have this visceral reaction to it. Because it doesn’t matter what your job is, it doesn’t matter. There are bits of your job that suck and there are bits of your job that are really great, and that includes a data scientist. You’re gonna have to pull data, you’re gonna have to clean data. You’re gonna have to prep data. You’re gonna have to test it. You’re gonna have to build a dashboard, you’re gonna have to answer some stupid ad hoc question that you don’t really think is worth your time. That shit happens in every job. And just because you have a sexy title like a Data Scientist doesn’t mean you’re immune from that.

43:17 TW: Well, but that is the challenge to the analyst who says, “I just don’t wanna do this grunty shitty work.” If that’s how they’re treating it and when I go what do you want me to do as a manager? You want me to just shit on somebody else and have them do it for you? Where it’s like… Or is it you really now as an analyst need to own, how can I make that less shitty? It might be number one on my list when somebody’s like, every week, I have to pull this and put it here and it really kinda sucks. I’m like, well then…

43:46 MK: Automate it.

43:47 TW: Automate it.

43:48 MH: Yeah exactly.

43:50 TW: I’m 100% on board like, No, there’s nobody working in a job where they’re like every single thing is kind of what they love. I do think there’s the challenge to say, Well, if 70% sucks and I can’t change it, and oh it looks like there are people who do kinda like this sort of thing, then maybe I need to start figuring out that 30% and how to shift my role or find the job where that kind of expands. You’re never gonna get it to zero, though.

44:18 MH: The key there is, are they even approaching that concept in any kind of systematic way, because that just reveals again like, Well, how good of an analyst are you, you haven’t even thought through the problem. Who’s gonna do the shitty work? Well, I’ve gotta plan, I’m gonna make so and so do it. Why is that? What about their job satisfaction? Do you think that’s the job they wanna do? We just kinda split it up and do the things that we gotta do. Okay.

44:41 MK: The funniest thing is, I have found…

44:44 TW: You know the guest always has one more thing to say when you’re trying to move to wrap?

44:48 MH: Yeah, exactly.

44:49 MK: There is a couple of people I found that do love that shit. They are this weird anomaly, like for example, I hate building dashboards, I really don’t find it fun. I like doing the wire frames, I like thinking about what’s gonna be on there. But the actual building can be kind of mundane. I used to have a girl on my team that loved it, like loved it. That was her thing. She was happy to do the same thing day after day. Different dashboard. And I also think that’s part of that building the trust in that relationship with your team is, figuring out what are the things that people in your team really like and what are the things they don’t like. So you can try and balance that workload a little bit better so people are doing the things that they’re interested in.

45:31 TW: That you just summarize, first break all the rules. The entire book. Well, it has the separate part of figuring out.

45:39 MK: What’s first break all…

45:40 TW: First break all the… So you know strengths finder, right? The, now discover your strengths, strengths finder. Well, first break all the rules was the first book. The strengths finder is now discover your strengths. I hate strengths finder. The first break all the rules. The fundamental premise is that people have talents and they have skills. Talents cannot really be… You can get somebody to a marginal level of capability, but talents are kind of an A. And so the trick with the team is to figure… Different people have different talents. Talents, they’re gonna be more interested in. They’re gonna be natural at it. And you’re gonna… And you should spend your time helping them foster and grow and strengthen their talents. Whereas the corporate world drives you towards focusing on the weaknesses and spending all of your time… And that’s… So there’s a lot in the book about how managers will spend the most time with their worst employees, which is wrong. You should spend most time with your best employees. But that exact bit of re-jiggering the team to… And again, there’s gonna be stuff nobody really wants to do. Figure out a fair and equable way to shuffle that around and have… Build the trust and make sure everybody knows, “Hey, nobody wants to do it. Anybody has an idea how to make less of it happen, let’s do it.” But play to people’s strengths, basically is the…

46:56 MK: And this is why I should read less. ‘Cause every time I read more stuff, I work out thousands of people have already thought the same thing as me before. And now I just need to give them credit for their ideas.

47:07 MH: Yeah. [chuckle] It’s what we do. Synthesize things. And now what we do is we start to wrap up the show. [chuckle] We do have to do that. Anyways, Moe, thank you so much for being our guest. [laughter] This has been an awesome conversation. Anyways, one thing we do do as you both know is do a last call. So let’s go around the horn. Maybe share something we found recently that we thought might be of interest. Moe, do you wanna go first?

47:35 MK: So this is an oldie, but a goodie, but I’ve been back in the DataViz space. And I just got myself a hot little copy of Stephen Few’s Information Dashboard Design. And I think the thing… ‘Cause I do have quite a few DataViz resources that I really love and depend on. I think the thing that I’m probably getting out of this book that I haven’t gotten out of any of the other ones that I’ve got is, you do often need to create a dashboard that has a lot of crap on it. And I think this really talks through how to manage that kind of busier dashboard. I think it’s lovely to envision a world where you have six KPIS on a dashboard. But the truth is lots of time people do 120. So how do you put that together in a way that’s not completely offensive to people’s eyes? So I… Yeah, I’m enjoying that one. What about you Helbs? Shake up the order a little today.

48:27 MH: Well…

48:28 TW: Look at this. You got the guest who just comes in and just decides that she’s gonna run the show.

48:32 MH: Yeah, now that’s a good manager. [laughter] That’s right. Just saying, just saying. So I wanna share something I ran across on the Measure Slack and I just thought it was pretty interesting. So I think it was shared as part of MeasureCamp Cincinnati, which happened back in June. But Albin Jerome presented something where he compared some job market for analytics in the US versus the UK. And I think his broader point was, in the UK, there are folks who have pretty deep experience that actually would be way less expensive to hire than the US. And so why not have US companies since everybody’s remote, leverage talent in the UK too. And so I was like, “That’s pretty neat.” So we’re taking a look at the slides that he put together and kind of thinking about that concept a little bit. But I thought it was a pretty cool little thing, sort of neat. And as someone who managed some folks in the EU as part of my broader team a while back, I gotta say, they were pretty top notch. So there’s a pretty high level talent over in the UK and in the EU. So…

49:39 TW: Shout out to Cincinnati for doing the first virtual MeasureCamp.

49:42 MH: Yeah.

49:43 TW: And it was a… I did not go to that session. I attended the whole day, and I thought this is gonna be… It was five hours. And it flew by and was a… Shot out to Gotham and the gang for doing that, that was pretty cool.

49:57 MH: That’s awesome. Alright Tim, what about you? What’s your last call?

50:01 TW: Oh, it’s delightful, that you think it’s gonna be a singular.

50:05 MH: Well I could try.

50:06 TW: Oh, I’ll hit some quick ones. So in the vein of conferences and education, I realized that… So Adam Greco Search Discovery, which yes is where I work, but he started up the Search Discovery Education Community, which is basically free webinars. I think the idea and structure morphed a little along the way. But Simo did a set, did one. Jim Gordon did one. I did one. Christensen I think still in the future, based on when this comes out. But if you just search for Search Discovery Education Community, well, one, it’s hilarious because while you find the right links, there is a company called Discovery Education and their search results page is search. The title tag is Search-Discovery Education Community. So might have a little bit of an SEO issue there, but there’s that. We do a terrible job of talking about when we are gonna be appearing in places. So to make up for that, I will be at the 2020 Nashville Analytics Summit on September 21st and 22nd. Which may be virtual, maybe in person. We’ll see.

51:12 MH: I was gonna say it’s scary to consider that not being virtual at this point.

51:17 TW: I think it is gonna be… And it’s… It’s like 500 bucks for a day-long, two-day conference, and 10% discount with VIPSPEAKER, all caps, is the code. So I’ll be at that, and then really the thing I’ve been randomly tinkering with is an R package called Sketcher, which basically is just like in Photoshop you can take and apply the filter and make it look like a pencil sketch, it’s just an R package that does that, just a couple of functions and you can tune all the different… The thing when I used to do that in Photoshop was you had to sit there and try one thing, change the setting, change the setting, change the settings, so of course, I took a script and took some bird pictures and had it run through 84 different permutations, then I can look at them and say which sketch looks the best. But the Sketcher R package, it’s just fun and silly, and I’ll stop there.

52:11 MH: Nice.

52:13 TW: So it was plural, but they were short.

52:15 MH: Yes. Last calls. Okay, you’ve probably been listening, and you’ve probably been thinking to yourself, as a manager, I disagree, or I agree. Or as an analyst, my manager exhibits some of these things. We would love to hear from you, but not you, Raphael, because you already talked to us… No, I’m just kidding, of course we want to hear from you too. And the best way to do that is on the Measure Slack, which we are part of and like to contribute in that community, it’s a great place. Also on our Twitter page and on our LinkedIn community, so feel free to reach out to us by any of those means, we’d love to hear from you. Also, if you got a mind to, head on over to whatever page it is where you listen to this podcast, the iTunes, Spotify, or Android or whatever, and give us a review or a rating, and we wouldn’t mind it one bit. In fact, we’d probably even appreciate it. And no show is complete without extolling the virtues of our illustrious producer Josh Crowhurst, who… He added a little note to the show prep, he’s like, he wanted to hear your thoughts about the transition from analyst to manager, so Josh, I hope we did you proud.

53:30 MK: I don’t think we’ve covered that at all.

53:32 TW: You did.

53:32 MK: Well, maybe we had the tiniest touch on it.

53:34 MH: At least Josh knows where to talk to us one-on-one about that if he needs more…

53:40 TW: Revenge in the outtakes I think is what’s gonna happen.

53:43 MH: Well, what do you do? No shortage of material. Okay, thank you so much, Moe, for being here our sort of guest.

53:51 MK: Still weird.

53:54 MH: But actually appropriate, I just… I wanna just recognize what you bring to the table of this episode is really good. And of course, for Tim, my co-host, and Moe, I know I’d say, whether you’re a manager or an analyst, one thing is certain. Keep analyzing.

[music]

54:15 S1: 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 @AnalyticsHour on Twitter.

[music]

54:35 Charles Barkley: So smart guys want to fit in, so they’ve made up a term called analytics. Analytics don’t work.

[music]

54:43 Thom Hammerschmidt: Analytics? Oh my God. What the fuck does that even mean?

54:51 MH: Well, actually, Tim, I would challenge your growth mindset in some areas.

54:57 TW: I’m sure you would.

54:58 MH: Yeah.

55:00 TW: And I would say you’re not my fucking boss.

55:03 MH: So you don’t have a growth mindset as it pertains to emotional intelligence and empathy and those kinds of things. You think of yourself as static, and I think if you let your heart open up to the love inside you… Are we recording?

55:22 TW: Yes, we are.

55:23 MH: Oh, okay.

[laughter]

55:27 MH: OKRs are all about how you use them, right? So they can be great, but they can also be a tool for evil.

[laughter]

55:34 MH: And so that’s the problem.

[vocalization]

55:41 MH: Here we go.

55:41 TW: As though she had muted.

55:45 MH: Reading lips, that’s some profanity being leveled at Maria. That sounds… Oh, wow, settle down. It’s just a podcast.

55:55 MK: I feel like we need elevator music.

[vocalization]

56:00 MK: Oh, no, that’s carnival music.

[vocalization]
[laughter]

56:13 MH: Rock flag and just do your fucking job…

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