Do you have a self-limiting ceiling?

03 May 2018

Five ways to improve your soft skills

The skills gap in nothing new in analytics. The gap in this instance is between demand and supply. Every year over 90 percent of managers tell us it’s as hard or harder to find analytics talent. And when they do find it, they tell us the majority are under-skilled. Whether this is because managers continue to ask for unicorns (and are then disappointed with mere mortals) or higher demand is driving those outside of analytics to take on the mantle of ‘analytics professional’ – the mismatch effect is the same.

There’s also a rising tide of technical skills touted as essential and the inevitable arguments over which programming language, technology platform or software is the true mark of an analytics professional.

But with all this banter, opinion and argument, some analytics professionals are unwittingly imposing a skills-based, self-limiting career ceiling. And we’re not talking glass.

If you have ambitions to climb the corporate ladder and be the person most likely to lead the team – not the smartest boffin – then you are limiting yourself and progression will stagnate if your skills development is only technical. That’s a self-limiting ceiling.

The most common frustration we hear from management (and it’s highlighted in the Skills and Salary Survey) is the lack of communication and interaction skills in the analytics team. Looking at the combination of technical and soft skills (like communication and interaction) there’s a distinct positive salary benefit for those with abundant soft skills.

And there are many ways to improve your soft skills:

  1. Be a part of any cross-discipline team or project and then actively listen to what and how those from outside analytics describe issues and ask for guidance
  2. Get yourself into the room as an observer when insights are presented to stakeholders and then watch and learn
  3. Volunteer to be the one to present your team’s insights to business decision makers
  4. Look into presentation or public speaking training (note: this is not training on how to use Powerpoint!)
  5. Take the IAPA soft skills course “Business Interactions for Analysts” – it’s designed for analytics professionals to give you the framework for better interactions with the rest of the organisation.

Here’s to smashing the ceiling!