Industry Insights

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How Analytics Leaders Can Take Charge of Their Teams

October 9, 2017

This post is contributed by Tim Ressmeyer | Founding Partner of Ressmeyer Partners and Executive Leadership Coach | 20 years’ experience as an executive in analytics and marketing research roles

Demand for experienced analytics leaders continues to increase as quantitative initiatives spread throughout the business world. This provides numerous opportunities for those who can rise to the occasion, but also presents unique challenges at a time when the return on investment in quantitative teams is being heavily scrutinized. How can you make sure you’re leading your team effectively?As a leader, many factors are out of your control – the economy, mergers and acquisitions, budget cuts, clients changing their mind – but one item you can control is how you create, manage, and support your team to prepare them for success, even in the face of obstacles.

Defining Your Team’s Objectives

When leading a team, the first question you must answer is: What is the specific, measurable goal that defines my team’s success? Once you have the answer to this, you can start to evaluate your team’s alignment and performance against this goal.As an analytics manager specifically, it’s important to consider things like quantitative results vs. insights vs. recommendations, as well as who or what function your team is supporting. Are you only accountable for delivering the results of your models? Or do you need to provide concrete suggestions for business improvements? Is your goal to reduce cost by X%? Or is it to help to increase revenue through the use of data? Do you have your own targets, or are you supporting sales or marketing objectives?

10 Questions to Evaluate Your Team’s Performance

Here are a few questions leaders and team members can consider in order to evaluate and maximize team performance:

  1. How clear are expectations about what each member is supposed to be doing/achieving?
  2. How clear is the path to results?
  3. What are opportunities for early and ongoing small wins?
  4. How well does the team anticipate, avoid, and mitigate risks?
  5. Is communication open, honest, and transparent among team members?
  6. How well does the team acknowledge each other and celebrate success?
  7. How effectively does the team move forward after setbacks?
  8. Does the team effectively move forward from vision to result?
  9. Do team leaders know what motivates each member?
  10. How effectively does the team improve collaboration?

These are crucial questions, and the answers are not always obvious.

Helping Your Team Reach Its Objectives

After you’re able to define your #1 objective, here are next steps you can take:

  1. Create the space for everyone to contribute. As Burtch Works detailed in their predictive analytics hiring market trends piece, analytics folks have a wide range of backgrounds and experience. Give your team the opportunity to share ideas, brainstorm, and innovate in an atmosphere of support and creativity. Especially with a lot of introverts, you want to be sure that those who are less likely to speak up can still be heard. Try this: when you ask your team a question, tell them to think for 15 seconds before answering. Then, ask for their ideas. The introverts on the team will be more likely to contribute.
  1. Focus on what’s right and not just what’s wrong. Too often the goal is to try to fix things without acknowledging what’s going well. Team members want to know when the client liked their model, or when they came up with a clever solution to a challenging problem. Creating a positive culture where praise is present helps to stamp out negativity and gossip which will undermine all the success you are having.
  1. If your gut is telling you something, deal with it. Just like finding patterns in data that were unexpected and should be explored, when you are feeling something unexpected, it should be addressed. You might realize that the issue is just not important, and no action is necessary. If it is a problem, however, it will not go away by itself and should be addressed. Follow professional, appropriate channels to reach resolution.
  1. Carefully assess the current situation. If you’re looking for concrete examples of how to assess your current team members, this simple assessment can be used to evaluate the conversations team members are having. By evaluating whether these conversations move the team forwards, backwards, or hold it at a standstill, you can open up some new ideas about making your team more effective and efficient.

For more information

Ressmeyer Partners, led by Founding Partner, Tim Ressmeyer, has teamed up with Burtch Works to provide executive and leadership coaching to our network of analytics and research professionals. His firm has a leadership development methodology based on the essential skills of Confidence, Connecting, Competence, and Culture.The 4 C’s framework helps leaders and teams be successful from start to finish, delivered via training, coaching, facilitation, or a combination, based on your needs. This approach has improved performance on teams in professional services, technology, finance, and non-profits. For more information or to get in touch with Tim, you can visit his website or email us at!Interested in developing your executive leadership capabilities? Watch Tim Ressmeyer's Executive Leadership Webinar: The Impact of Confidence in the video below.