Change. Sometimes people fear it. Sometimes people see it as a personal attack if asked to change. We also know that we really cannot convince someone to change unless they want to. This goes from changing a bad habit right down to thinking differently. Change is an individual choice. Corporations can mandate data-driven decisions, and employees might reluctantly use that tool while resisting an exploration into the tool’s full potential. That results in a partial solution but not an optimum one.
Managers need to trust your products. How can you put the managers at ease? First, reassure them that they are not on their own. Your office not only provides the data, using the analytical tools, but you also help explain them. Your job is to work with the managers, not sling the data at them and leave.
Next, build trust. It can take some front-end work. There needs to be trust in the data (data integrity) and trust in your office. Some basic recommendations:
- Don’t promise what can’t be delivered. If a manager asks for data that cannot be factually derived, explain why. Don’t just tell him or her “No.” Conversely, keep the explanation in terms the manager is comfortable with.
- If you cannot deliver what the manager asks for, offer an alternative. It needs to take the manager’s request into consideration – you know the saying: “Compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges.”.
- Keep it simple at first. Do not overwhelm a manager with too much data. The manager will end up tossing it to the side because he or she is frustrated. You must recognize if their eyes glaze over and they have turned you off.
- Stress that the data is additive but does not replace the manager’s decision responsibility. Believe it or not, some managers fear some data analysis can make them irrelevant. It’s a data-driven decision, not a data-made decision.
Once the manager is more comfortable, here are some other points you can offer:
- The data is tailorable. Encourage the manager to discuss their specific criteria.
- Data is a snapshot in time and future decisions should be aided by new data. You can’t make a decision on personnel based on 6-month old data. Find out how often the data might be needed.
- Provide time-saving suggestions for using the data. Make sure this is based on decisions such as awarding bonuses, deciding who receives training, promotions, or transfers.
One last thing: The managers will expect you to be the expert and they might expect you to remember specifics of previous conversations. One way to build trust is to understand the different preferences between managers, whether that be in a notes file, a saved screenshot, etc. Quick recall of a conversation that shows you support that manager’s specific issues will help build trust. That doesn’t mean a subservient work environment; it means finding ways to make a difference with data and helping managers trust data-driven decisions.