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  • Prof. Mike Ulrich
    Prof. Mike Ulrich

    Questions That Make Us Better Professionals

    People Analytics professionals who aspire for long-term career progression must engage in introspective inquiry and strategic self-questioning. Such reflective practices not only sharpen their analytical skills but also pave the way for meaningful career advancements and contributions to the field.
     

    By Mike Ulrich, Assistant Professor at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University 

     

    Much of the research done at the HR Analytics Think Tank focuses on the cutting edge tools and technologies found within the HR analytics profession, and the role of HR analytics within organizations. But the Think Tank also looks to better understand the people within the community, not all of whom work in formal analytics roles.  

     

    A common denominator of the people we engage with is an innate desire to learn, understand the world, and develop their personal competencies. Many of these individuals often ask how they can have a greater impact in their jobs.  

     

    About every 4-5 years, one of my mentors likes to ask about my career. His questions get me to reflect on my values, what I’ve accomplished over the last few years, and what I want from the next few years of my career. Sometimes the answers to these questions are easy but I still take time to reflect, ensuring that the path I’m walking aligns with the destination I hope to reach.  


    What type of impact do you want to have? 

    There are many types of impact, including personal, leadership, operations, culture, innovation, systems, etc. People are motivated by different things; not everyone wants to be the next great CEO. A PA professional may decide they want to focus on mastering their current role, mentoring the next generation, developing new analytic tools, or working alone or within a team.  
     

    Where do you want to have an impact?  

    I worked with an individual who love working with data and expected to spend their entire career in PA but after 10-15 years decided they were ready for a change. Another colleague spent 20+ years in industry before deciding to go to law school so they could change the foster care system.  

     

    Based on research done by the Think Tank, PA professionals generally consider three areas where they want to have a future impact:  

    • The PA function. People passionate about HR analytics may benefit from deepening their technical expertise. These may become thought leaders and innovators in the PA community, developing new methodologies for understanding and analyzing data and information and might be less concerned with the people behind the numbers.   
    • HR. These professionals want to understand people but are not necessarily passionate about the latest trends in machine learning or Bayesian classification rules. They are more focused on understanding the needs, concerns, behaviors, and abilities of individuals and how to manage people. PA professionals moving out of the PA function most often take jobs as HR business partners or consultants.   
    • Organization. Not all people employed in PA see themselves as either HR professionals or analysts (though some take analytics jobs outside of HR). These individuals are often focused on how they can influence a broader range of organizational problems.  
       
    Quote

    "People Analytics is uniquely positioned to give people access to a broad range of HR and business issues"

     

    When people decide to transition out of a PA role, they often do so by switching companies. Individuals we interviewed often discussed the challenge of seeking promotions outside of PA but within their current companies. These individuals frequently mention being labeled the “numbers person” and struggled to break free from that stereotype without changing employers 

     

    It’s also easier to find promotion opportunities elsewhere within HR than immediately into other business functions. Thus for those hoping to broader the scope of their impact, they may want to look for opportunities within HR which will position them for later opportunities in other areas of the business.  

     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Movement Type 

     
     
     
     
     

    Destination 

     
     
     
     
     

    Other Business Function 

     
     
     
     
     

    Other HR Role 

     
     
     
     
     

    Promotion 

    (68%) 

     
     
     
     

    New Organization 

    (40%) 

     
     
     
     

    18% 

     
     
     
     

    22% 

     
     
     
     

    Same Organization 

    (28%) 

     
     
     
     

    9% 

     
     
     
     

    19% 

     
     
     
     
     

    Lateral Move 

    (32%) 

     
     
     
     

    New Organization 

    (16%) 

     
     
     
     

    8% 

     
     
     
     

    8% 

     
     
     
     

    Same Organization 

    (16%) 

     
     
     
     

    7% 

     
     
     
     

    9% 

     

    What impact do you hope to make in your career? What skills will you need to develop to have the impact you want to make? What mentors can help you make these decisions?  

     





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