As the manager of a team of data analysts, it can be tricky to develop your team beyond their core analytical roles. What’s more, devising and supporting your team’s PDPs can be a time consuming, overwhelming task.
To the rest of the business, meanwhile, you team can often be perceived as simply ‘number providers’ that contribute minimally to the wider business goals. Developing and nurturing your staff, however, can raise their (and your) profiles within the business.
Remember, personal development does not necessarily imply upward career movement. It is about empowering your staff to improve their performance, their communication skills and their confidence to reach their full potential at each stage of their career.
This complete guide to developing your team provides a number of tips and tricks you can deploy to encourage your workforce to grow personally and professionally, whilst proving their value and improving their business output.
1. Why team development is important (for data analysts)
Today, data insights are essential to almost every business. That’s why more and more organisations are employing whole in-house teams of technical experts to drive business intelligence and strategic insights.
Technical skills, naturally, are essential for such roles but so are interpersonal, soft skills. Especially as data analysts, by their very nature, aren’t always comfortable pushing themselves forward for personal development opportunities.
As the manager of analysts, it’s your job to cultivate your team’s full potential, maximise their output and highlight to the rest of the business the importance of their roles. And this is most achievable through developing effective teamwork and robust communication skills.
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
Michael Jordan, professional basketball player
What’s a Personal Development Plan (PDP)?
A personal development plan is a framework to identify your team members strengths and weaknesses. It allows you to come up with guidelines to optimise their existing skills and capabilities.
Regularly assessing your workers’ development provides you (and them) with a snapshot of where they stand at a given moment, and to reflect on their next steps for improvement and growth.
A PDP can provide confidence, reassurance and motivation to your staff. It can also highlight gaps in knowledge, output or where there’s even more potential to reach.
What’s more, raising your workers’ profiles in the business takes more than data insights. It requires a set of soft skills that give your team the confidence to communicate and consult on these insights more effectively. These essential skills can set your workers up for opportunities further down the line, and help them develop their careers.
Want to know more about raising your team’s profile? Read more about the importance of team development for data analysts in our blog
2. Three reasons to develop your team’s communication skills
Have you ever struggled with the perception of your team to the wider business, or your external stakeholders and customers? This might not be a result of technical misunderstanding, it could be a simple communication roadblock.
You want to ensure all the hard work and technical expertise is valued by your business, or you may miss wider business opportunities. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage your team’s communication skills.
“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”
James Humes, lawyer
Ensure your stakeholders’ perceptions are not compromised through poor contact with your team, and build their own confidence at the same time.
- Improve your team’s perception
How do your data analysts react when an unplanned communication arises from a customer or internal stakeholder?
Do they freeze, panic or just dismiss the call so they can get back to business? It may not be intentional or because they don’t care, but poor communication touch points can have a long term impact on your team’s involvement in bigger projects.
These passing and seemingly innocuous contact points are where negative perceptions can originate. This, sadly, is despite the tremendous effort and skills that are invested in uncovering valuable data insights.
Read more about the importance of your analyst’s communication skills in our blog about building trust and credibility
- Improve job satisfaction
Analysts need to develop their communication skills to move from a passive to a proactive approach to their work.
A reactionary approach is less valuable for the analyst, your team and the business. A proactive way of working gives your analyst a chance to showcase their skills and gain better visibility across the business. This ultimately increases their job satisfaction and motivation.
- Prepare analysts to be leaders
Just like you, your data analysts probably won’t be data analysts forever.
If they are exceptional at what they do, there may come a time they are presented with an opportunity to climb the career ladder and become a team leader or other form of manager. The Demarq Academy workshops arm analysts with the skills they need for this transition, whether they are new to their role, an experienced analyst, or they are preparing to make the move from analyst to team leader.
Watch our video to see why, at Demarq Academy, we believe great analysts need more than just technical skills alone
3. Signs your team needs more personal development
Managing people can be tricky, and you want to ensure your team continues to deliver results, whilst you maintain your own job satisfaction.
As a team leader, there will be times when your staff need extra help nurturing their skills and their teamwork ethic. This may be especially true of data analysts who are usually more comfortable working in isolation than in groups. Knowing the warning signs can help identify gaps for additional training and support.
Here are 5 ways to identify that one or more of your team members may need additional development:
- Lack of commitment
Is a team member struggling to put effort into a specific project, or does he or she seem unmotivated? They may need additional encouragement or development with a PDP.
- Minimal strategic insight
Does one or more of your data analysts find it hard to put forward a solid business theory after completing his or her data analysis? They could be lacking confidence in their ability to address the stakeholder needs.
- There’s team conflict
Sometimes it can be hard to find solutions as a group. If your analysts are struggling to resolve conflict within the team, it can point towards a communication roadblock.
- Avoiding presentations
If your staff enjoy working on data analysis, but hate showcasing their insights to the wider business, there could indicate a lack of speaker confidence.
- There is minimal creativity
If your team members are great at extracting valuable data analysis but find it hard to convert them into creative visuals and compelling stories, they may need an injection of creativity.
Read more ideas on developing your team of analysts and making the mindset shift to team leader in our blog, five key tips for managing analysts
Remember that your team members will all have strengths and weaknesses. It’s valuable to turn negative feedback into constructive feedback as much as possible. Explain clearly how and where improvements can be made, and offer valuable training opportunities where appropriate.
If you’re lacking confidence in your managerial ability, or you will soon to be moving from technical analyst to team leader, consider taking a course that gives you an introduction to people management.
Managing Analysts is two-day workshop designed to help analysts like you adapt to the responsibility changes and mindset shifts that come with becoming a team leader.
4. Five things to include in your team’s PDPs
Your team members’ PDPs are an essential framework for reviewing and assessing their skills, goals and identifying their areas for improvement.
For data analysts, this doesn’t just mean their technical abilities, although that’s equally important to assess. It also means weighing up their personal development, their job satisfaction and helping them grow in their careers.
“Income seldom exceeds personal development.”
Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker
When you have new starters, it’s a good idea to craft a personalised plan with them. You can start with the first 6-12 months empty and help them build an action plan. It’s important to find out where they want to grow and support them to achieve it. This could mean developing personal skills they are less confident with, or widening their knowledge on specific subjects.
Here are five things to include in your team’s PDPs:
- Projects they have done well
Spend some time considering your analysts’ progress over the last 6 or 12 months (depending on the frequency of your reviews). What have they achieved, which projects were a stand out success?
Not only will this help you get a sense of what’s going well for your team and any areas that you can help them develop, it will also help you to recognise the strengths and weaknesses in their collective skillset.
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
By getting an idea of what your staff members’ strengths are, you’ll be able to identify future activities where they can add value. And by recognising their weaknesses, you can start getting them involved in work that allows them to develop any gaps in their knowledge.
- Do their actions fit the company values?
This is a good way to check your workers soft skills and non-technical behaviour. Do your team members reflect your company’s high level values? With this, do they communicate well, do they help other team members without being asked, do they work proactively with stakeholders? If there are gaps, consider offering workshops and other soft skills courses to support them.
- Set SMART goals and objectives
Start setting realistic goals. These goals can be anything from short to long-term, big or small. Decide what goals you’d like your staff to aim towards in the next 6 or 12 months, and make a plan that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive.
- Their feedback on their role and the company as a whole
A PDP shouldn’t be a one-way communication. Get feedback from your staff on what they think they’ve achieved, where there are gaps and where they feel they need additional support. This feedback is valuable across all the above areas of the PDP.
Want more ideas for your team’s PDPs? Read our blog, making sure your PDPs are bringing out the best in your team
5. The importance of soft skills in team development
As we’ve mentioned, raising your workers’ profiles in the business takes more than excellent data insights. It requires a set of soft skills that give your team the confidence to communicate and consult on these insights more effectively.
These essential skills can set your workers up for opportunities further down the line, and help them develop their careers. Here’s why:
Today, being good at a job isn’t the only condition for getting ahead. If key business influencers or stakeholders aren’t aware of your team members, it’s likely they will miss out on opportunities to improve their skills and take on more interesting projects.
So, do your team members need additional (soft) skills to supplement their technical knowledge? The answer is almost always yes.
First, answer this: can you distill what your team does in one or two short sentences? Is it more than ‘data analysis’? If not, you may want to rethink how you frame your team’s output so that it lines up with your business’ overall objectives. This may require additional communication skills to help your team develop their sense of purpose.
This may not always come naturally to your analysts, or even to you, but it’s incredibly important to market your successes to the rest of the business.
Again, proactive sharing of information and presenting insights to the wider business may not be within your team’s comfort zone. Consider ways to get them out from behind their desks and presenting their hard work to the rest of your company.
Watch our video to find out:
- Why analysts should be involved from the start of projects
- How analysts can make their customers happier
- Why analysts need more than just technical skills
- What soft skills data analysts should develop
- Why analysts should take a more proactive approach
Overall, such soft skill courses give your team the confidence to go beyond spreadsheets. They ensure your team’s profile is presented more accurately, and your managerial position is elevated in the process.
It’s essential that your team recognises the importance of key relationships within the business, and can identify the most valuable stakeholders. Managing these relationships effectively will hold as much weight as their complex data outputs.
To help your team develop these soft skills, Demarq Academy runs a series of soft skills training workshops aimed specifically at data analysts. These workshops provide a set of communication and planning standards that will naturally build trust and credibility with stakeholders and customers, helping your analysts foster valuable business relationships.
Get the full story on the importance of non-technical development in our blog, are you raising your team’s profile with soft skills?