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mr-benI attended and presented at a Workforce and HR Analytics event last week. I was covering the subject of analysis capability within HR. I looked at both finding the right skills in analysts in the market as well upskilling the HR community as a whole. As I wrote my notes in advance and listened to the debate amongst the crowd it became apparent that the HR analyst of today needs to be good as an awful lot of things.

And this the tenuous link to the 70’s superstar Mr Benn who entertained many children. For those who don’t know him he was an ordinary man in a bowler hat who went on different adventures taking on different roles such as a cowboy, astronaut, chef and balloonist.

The analyst of today also needs to take on many different guises as they try to excel in the world of HR. The image I have added to the top of my post gives you a flavour of the different hats they need to wear. Many are obvious but let me tell you why I have chosen a few obscure ones:

  • Doctor – A key to taking a good brief is asking the right questions to determine exactly what the issue is and develop an action plan to provide a cure
  • Magician – Often there is no data or a poor brief and they need to pull out all the stops to deliver some insight from nowhere to expectant HR professionals
  • Artist – Being great at interpreting data is not enough anymore. You need to be creative when designing dashboards so bring the results to life
  • Politician – Sometimes the data doesn’t paint the picture the requester was expecting. Being able to spin a good story without lies is a devilish skill to possess
  • Counselor – Similar to the politician skill the analyst needs to be able to bring comfort and solace to colleagues when the data does not bring a smile to their face

But don’t let this fun list become your shopping list when recruiting. Be sensible. Certain skills can be learnt, some are natural and some are just very difficult to find in just one person. Budget allowing, try and hire a good mix of people with skills that complement each other. Typical roles in a great analytical team are the statisticians (looking for trends and correlations in big data), the senior analysts (storyteller, relationship manager and analyst) and the data manipulators (downloading data, creating reports etc.).

Neil Parkinson will be speaking at our Mission Critical HR Analytics 2015 conference on 2 July in London.


Neil received his degree from Leeds Metropolitan University in 1994. After gaining experience across a number of roles he embarked on a career in recruitment/HR analysis. After successfully implementing a culture of data led decision making across two recruitment advertising agencies he moved to BSkyB to set up a new reporting function.

Neil set up his own consultancy in 2012 to help clients bring their data to life. He has worked on developing strategic KPIs, designing dashboards and enhancing in-house analysis capability. At Diageo he facilitates organisation effectiveness through the interpretation and presentation of HR data.

He shares his analysis thoughts via his blog, attends the gym and travels regularly around the world.

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