Jun 23, 2021
Viivi Tyni, Helsinki
The top work life skills of an Reddalian (or any other working professional, really!)
You don’t need to know it all – asking the right things highlights your skills on dealing with difficult situations and finding solutions
If I should name only one characteristic to define us Reddalians, I would say curiosity. We all tend to ask a lot of questions.
To be honest, I had never considered that asking questions could even be a useful work life skill. ‘Good at asking questions’ does not sound as fancy as ‘excellent analytical skills’ or ‘ability for strong critical thinking’ that often are highlighted in business analyst job postings. However, already after my first interview at Reddal, I got a glimpse of how important this skill would be. In the interview, I got stuck with a case, and I did not know what to do next (a nightmare for all applicants…), so I ended up seeking guidance from the interviewer by asking questions. After the interview, I was convinced that I had ruined my chances. It turned out that I was wrong - instead, the interviewer highlighted that my question was right on point and it demonstrated that I am able to move forward by asking relevant questions and rely on colleagues when faced with a problem.
The key is to boldly collaborate with relevant connections and focus on asking questions in a simple but effective way
When I started my career at Reddal, I quickly learned that my work is very much tied to asking questions. The first weeks showed me the (ugly) reality of a young analyst in the business development world – I knew basically nothing about the topic of my project, which entailed a lot of industry-specific information and complicated company-specific challenges. Luckily, I realized that I could ask questions to gain the required knowledge, and at the same time, I had an opportunity to develop my skills of coming up with these questions. Life as an analyst became suddenly a lot easier after realizing that there always are an endless amount of data sources and knowledgeable people around you that can help you forward if you know what questions to ask and how.
Describing my experiences as a young analyst further, I often felt overwhelmed because I did not know what I did not know. Admitting that you do not know something and a fear of asking too obvious questions are typically very deep in us. My tip for all new analysts: even if asking questions may feel like showing your vulnerability, it very well displays your ability to be courageous and builds a bridge with others. So do not be afraid of simple questions, often they are the best ones.
Courage and curiosity are needed not only for forming and asking good questions but also for evaluating and reforming existing ones. At Reddal, we are sometimes facing a situation where the question or problem given by our clients is not necessarily the right one. So instead of finding the answer straight away, we need to start with defining the right question together with the client. To carry this out successfully, constant practicing of structural thinking, question formulation, and interview skills are needed. Luckily, Reddal is full of people from whom you can learn. However, regardless of how good internal connections you may have, do not forget to utilize external experts and data sources for building a wider perspective.
Experience does not mean that you can forget to develop your skills on asking questions – applying curiosity and openness will take you far
After a couple of years at Reddal and getting familiar with asking questions in an effective and systematic manner, I am afraid that I am close to falling into a typical trap. As the experience starts to add up, one easily starts taking things for granted and makes quick hypotheses without asking the questions with full curiosity and openness of mind. Despite the general thinking that our skills only improve the more senior we become, this process may actually become even more difficult to handle! Therefore, I want to send you a lot of courage and curiosity so that you keep asking excellent and insightful questions – in whichever phase you may be in your career. This skill will never be mastered fully!