I have met BA Managers who attend IIBA meetings, but it’s never been very many or very consistent. Most of them were active BAs and really enjoyed the profession. A few come announcing a job opening and often leave following their pitch.
This is a serious mistake, one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a BA Manager.1
I’ve already written about how BAs are growing professionally because they are setting their own expectations (see Part 1). Implicit in this is the need for BA Managers to learn more about the role, and then take this understanding to set a high performance bar. Setting high expectations is key to your team’s success and an important reason why you should become involved in your local chapter. But it goes far beyond this.
I typically learn something at every chapter meeting. Sometimes it’s from the presenter, a new tool to try out or a variation on a technique to increase its effectiveness. Sometimes it is from someone who has gone through a similar situation, or can give an outsider’s opinion on my problem. Whatever it is, I often learn something new and bring it back to the team, encouraging them through today’s challenge; something to make our lives back in the office just a bit easier. It also shows my team that I am always trying to grow, setting an example of how I want them to pursue self-improvement.
Beyond setting the right expectations and example, I recommend involvement as an investment; an investment in building, finding, and selecting your future staff. Here are some of my key reasons and rationale for being involved.
Participating improves the community. Whether I am presenting to the chapter, or asking a serious question about how to apply the speaker’s tool in the workplace, participating helps improve the skills of local BAs. Because I will one day have to hire from the pool of local BAs, helping to improve their skills today is helping myself tomorrow.
Attending meetings says, “I get it.” BAs are still a bit skittish. Many have struggled to receive recognition of what they do and why, so a little encouragement typically goes a long way. This is one of the few times where just showing up can make a difference, because merely by attending you are showing the community you care about it, you want it to succeed. Being personable at the local chapter meetings is a quick way to become the favorite BA Manager in town.
Knowing BAs gives me early insight. One of the biggest challenges for BA Managers is hiring the right personnel. Being an active participant in the local chapter gives you a network of connected BAs who will take your phone call and give you honest feedback on their current and former peers. Understanding a candidates strengths and weaknesses before you make a job offer is a huge advantage.
Preferred bosses get more candidates. Finding the perfect job, or candidate, is often about being part of the right network. I love job boards, and good recruiting firms are worth their fees and more, but neither one gives you the right network. If you are going to hire a BA, doesn’t it make sense to know them? When I am hiring I want to get more to find qualified candidates right away, something I do not get by depending on others to post my open position.
You may be able to pay competitive wages, but do you pay the most in your area? You might like what your company sells or stands for, but how does it compete with the cool start-up across town? These areas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things you cannot control about your company and the offer you can make. One thing you can do, a deciding factor for many job seekers, is offer an environment where you are known as a good boss. Attending your local IIBA meeting is a small thing, but it’s something a bad boss wouldn’t do.
Why don’t you set yourself apart and attend a local chapter meeting? I’m guessing they’ve got an upcoming meeting and would love to see you.
Post script: Ramit Sethi has a good article on building Natural Networks. His audience is different, but his argument is strong and reinforces my points.
Top performers build their network BEFORE they need it. That’s how they can get laid off on a Monday and have a better job lined up by Friday. Read that sentence again, please — it means that top performers are comfortable meeting people and cultivating relationships with no specific purpose. In fact, it’s almost always to help the other person!
The same is true when you occupy the hiring side of the desk, top performers build their network before they need it.
1: I don’t care if your title is Business Analysis Manager, Development Supervisor, Director of Business Analysis, or Janitor. If you have a staff of people, dedicated to understanding the business needs & defining software / system requirements, and your role involves, hiring, reviewing, and growing them to meet the needs of the business, then you’re a BA Manager.
Other articles in this series on BA Managers:
Part I—The Hidden Problem of BA Managers
Part III—IIBA Chapters Should Care About Business Analysis Managers
A special thanks to Neil Bazley, IIBA Vice President of Chapters (@neilbazley) for his early review and advice on this series.