Regardless of economic performance, some jobs are always in demand. Data jobs tend to fall into this category. Data analysts, data scientists and anyone with a strong data background are able to find jobs quickly in any job market.
This has proven to be a tough problem for my clients as they figure out how to grow their companies and teams.
Today’s story starts with one of my software clients, a VP of Marketing at B2C company.
“I don’t know how to do that” said the marketing manager. She was the third person to say this within the last 15 minutes.
It seemed that nobody on this team knew what was going on with their product data or reports. Jim (different name) was the new VP of Marketing and was getting up to speed on how the company worked.
Things weren’t going well. Nobody on Jim’s team seemed to know how to work with data or any of their tools (some costing over $100,000 annually).
The solution seemed obvious: just hire a data analyst who can take on this work. However, Jim knew how tight the job market is for this role and he wasn’t sure if he could wait for 2 -3 months for someone to be fully ramped up.
There was another solution that could work here: coaching his existing team on how to use their current toolset.
Instead of focusing on new blood, you should instead look inward and find existing employees who are just missing a few items on their resume. These employees can be coached (not trained) to tackle your current data problems.
Let’s look at 3 reasons why this is an untapped resource within your company.
Coaching = Short Term Impact
As Jim would quickly learn, coaching done right (as opposed to training) can close skills gaps quickly. Within 90 days, you could have people do things that they never thought possible within their role.
This is especially true for companies that have implemented self-service analytics tools that are designed for non-technical users. At most of my client companies, the issue isn’t the people or the tool but that nobody had properly helped them learn this specific tool.
Existing People Understand Your Culture
Your existing people also understand the culture of your company. I have seen people get tripped up trying to understand why revenue is calculated in a specific way or why certain users are excluded from calculations.
Learning all the little details about your product takes time. Helping someone learn a tool like Google Analytics is easier than getting someone to understand the company culture.
You’re Wasting Your Talent
Finally, by ignoring your existing people, you’re wasting your talent. These people want to be challenged and pushed but they need your support.
You can’t expect them to learn something completely on their own but if you provide even minimal support, they can flourish. The right coaching can also help you retain employees over the long term.
Just like Jim, you can find short term growth levers within your team but you need to close the skills gaps. This can be done with the right coaching program over a 90 day period (or less).
Hiring will still play a crucial role in your team development but it should be done on a long term basis and not as a short term solution.
Double down on what works (your best people) instead of hoping to find an employee unicorn.