When leaders start to talk about data to non-technical employees, reactions can vary.
Some employees will immediately break eye contact, thinking about how to fake an aneurism to get out of the room. Others will nod agreeably, but seem to have a glazed look in their eyes as if they’ve just entered a parallel universe. Still others will get agitated or angry, sort of like 5-year-olds who have just been told they will now only get broccoli for dessert.
Still, it’s how leaders react that will make the biggest difference when it comes to using data in today’s workplace. If leaders choose to ignore warning signs from employees showing they clearly only think of data as painful, then they will be wasting time and resources.
But, if leaders do their homework and are ready to make a clear-cut and easy-to-understand case about why data can truly help employees do their jobs better and easier, then they’re going to make important headway.
So, here are some of the reasons why employees dislike data and how to change their minds and get more business insights and value out of it:
- It’s not accessible to everyone. Some employees may have had experiences that required them to learn a new tool or system and then – poof! – that changes and they can no longer access key information. So, they start doing things manually, which is always slower and adds to the potential for mistakes. But if leaders can offer data that are easily refreshed and approachable for everyone, then those with lesser skills are no longer locked out and employees feel comfortable abandoning their manual processes. They trust the data will be user-friendly and accessible when they need it.
- They don’t understand the strategy behind it. If you want employees to embrace data – and be happy about it – then you need to explain why it’s important. Help them understand it means their commissions will be paid in a timely manner, or they won’t have to waste time on projects that don’t make bottom-line sense. Scott Storlie of digital marketing agency Spyder Trap explains that better data synchronization means that processes get streamlined. It also means the company can do the work that benefits it – and the employees – the most.
- It’s overwhelming. It seems that data solutions are arriving faster than they can be written about, and that can make teams feel overwhelmed and incapable. When IT joins the discussion, it can make the average rank-and-file employee feel even more overwhelmed. Leaders can help workers, for example, by showing them that a data services provider is doing all the heavy lifting – it’s not up to them to be able to understand all the technicalities. Workers need to understand that no one understands the problems they face in their jobs better than they do, which is why it’s so important they have input. Leaders can reassure them that what they have to offer is still extremely valuable, such as suggestions on how to improve a process or systems that don’t make sense for them.
- Too many data silos. It’s a sad but true fact that in many organizations information is not shared and that hurts productivity and competitiveness. The same is true for data. Leaders can help workers understand that by using cloud applications, it helps set the stage for citizen development and helps them access more up-to-date data. In addition, it improves communication across teams and departments, which helps slash inefficiencies.
- It’s not customized. Employees are unlikely to feel friendly toward data that doesn’t help them transform their work. If they’re drowning in data that doesn’t provide them relevant information, they’re unlikely to see the potential – and that can curb any inclination to build on that data to transform the organization. Leaders must take the time to ensure that employees can easily customize the data, such as offering low-code apps that allow them to easily track and report data on a specific project or customer.