Guide to keep a data analyst thriving at work

Various factors come into account to a Data Analyst's fulfilment: company, coworkers and data team.

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Thibaut Collette

July 19, 2022・4 min read

Co-workers happy and smiling

There was not one discussion I had with a data team manager that didn't mention the famous "it's so complicated to recruit in my data team". LinkedIn is backing this fact as you can find 175k data analysts positions opened right now. And it's actually growing.

Before you start spending all your time in hiring processes make sure you don't have a retention issue. Sometimes churn is inevitable, sometimes it is even good for your team. But often it's mostly costly.

At the company level

Changing company-wide culture might not be the easiest way to bring change. So we will skip quickly here. But long story short, money and benefits are not the best levers to make an employee happy. Definitely, when someone feels they are underpaid, it will have a negative impact on them. It's often more about their perceived value in the company than the salary value per se. A study showed the top 10 things that would help an employee go the extra mile:

  • Camaraderie, peer motivation (20%)
  • Intrinsic desire to a good job (17%)
  • Feeling encouraged and recognized (13%)
  • Having a real impact (10%)
  • Growing professionally (8%)
  • Meeting client/customer needs (8%)
  • Money and benefits (7%)
  • Positive supervisor/senior management (4%)
  • Believe in the company/product (4%)
  • Other (9%)

At the team level

As you can see, a manager can actually have a real impact on most of those items. My personal conviction is that helping someone "grow personally" is one of the most impactful lever.

When you hear (or you pronounce) things like "It will be faster if I do it myself" or "No one can do it like I can" then they're most probably missing out on the opportunity of delegating and giving someone a chance to shine on a topic outside their comfort zone.

Worst case scenario, they did worse than you would have. The person has learned something, you've learned something about the person, you learned how to coach and the team saw you gave someone a chance. It does not look like a loss.
They can also do it differently but this is how you foster creativity, new ideas and progress.
Best case scenario, they did better. Then this is a great problem to have and you can spend your time somewhere else and the person gets a great win. Your own value does NOT diminish...

Growing means letting people go out of the comfort zone. Think about it before your next C-level presentation. Bring someone with you. Make your team shine.

And what about the data team specificities?

Inside an analytics team there are a few things you can do boost team motivation.

Meet stakeholders on a regular basis

Force a deep understanding of their needs. As a consequence, a true bonding between data and business teams will exist boosting camaraderie but team members will also want to deliver better work to actually meet their needs.

Assess the impact of the team work

Very often data analysts keep their eyes and their thoughts on this dashboard they spent hours building and that was used for less than 5 minutes. Before building, ask about the context and the impact it will have on the business. If not compelling enough, don't do it. Once done, ask for feedback. "Did you use it?" "what decision did you make?" Accept the feedback and use it for next prioritization.

Remove any bottleneck feeling

This is one of the most unpleasant feeling as a data analyst. "You're too slow" "I needed that for yesterday". When hearing that too much, your team will keep this never achieving feeling that you don't want. Invest in the tools that will automate the tasks with no added value. Don't be afraid of self-serve from teams with basic technical knowledge while highlighting metrics, dashboards, notebooks that are validated by your team.

"What do you want?"
It might initially sound harsh but this is the single question you might want to ask your team members to actually know their triggers.

You can repeat the question multiple times as you won't always get the answer the first time.

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