We’ve touched on aspects of executing your “solo” role, but what we need to discuss is how to overcome one of the key roadblocks you might face – resistance from other teams and managers. Some may feel threatened or intimidated by the fact that you will be providing the company’s leadership with data, insights, and recommendations that could do one of a few things:
- Create more work for them
- Highlight errors or things that aren’t working
- Conflict with their recommendations or vision
- Endanger their rock star status throughout the organization (At least that’s how they may perceive it)
One of the disadvantages of being the only person in your role is that when it comes to resistance from other teams you’re often outnumbered. There’s some truth to the saying there is “power in numbers”. However giants do fall, you just need a solid strategy, patience, courage, resilience, and bit of humility (you may not win every battle, but you can certainly win the war).
Here are 3 strategies that I’ve seen personally work to help alleviate roadblocks (partially and sometimes completely) presented by other teams:
Strategy A: Work Top Down Help other managers look good. Managers love to share their successes with their peers (i.e. other managers). If you’re linked to these successes enough, the Resistant Manager (RM) can begin to feel pressured to be more cooperative; if nothing else simply because he doesn’t like the idea of missing out on an opportunity to shine. As a result the RM will make it a requirement that his team demonstrate a more cooperative spirit. Giant 0 You 1!
How? Establish a few pilot projects that will allow you to work directly with managers. These may not be the “sexiest” projects. These are smaller less visible projects that give you a chance to enhance your skills, gain some wins, build strategic partnerships, while not broadcasting your mistakes. Remember credibility “concerns” is one of the key tactics RM’s use to stunt the growth of analytics programs. For your pilot projects to be successful you need time (i.e. no unrealistic deadlines or pressure) and support (i.e. not feeling like you can’t make a mistake), so be sure to seek out teams/managers that are willing to give analytics a fair chance, and see the potential value it can add.
Strategy B: Work Horizontally Help their peers look good. This will establish evangelists across the organization. The program’s success and value will spread without you having to be in the room. Once this hits the right ears (i.e. leadership) enough, it could lead to executive support. Executive support is much more powerful than any Resistant Team or Manager. Check mate!
How? Setup a time to speak with colleagues in influential departments so that you can understand their current projects, responsibilities, and priorities. Choose colleagues that you feel there’s a strong possibility that analytics can support their efforts. Mention this likelihood to them when you introduce yourself, and ask for a moment of their time. This can be as informal as taking a coffee break. Be creative! Be genuine! Be helpful!
Strategy C: Work Vertically Help the Resistant Teams (RT) clients understand the value of analytics. If business partners (i.e. internal clients) buy into the value of analytics they will apply pressure on the RT to be more cooperative, and after all it is the RT’s job to make their clients happy. Boom!
How? Be proactive. Even if the clients aren’t currently asking for analytics, send it anyway. Tell them where you see opportunity, backed up by solid evidence and creditable reporting. Be careful to start in small digestible doses, don’t overwhelm them with data. Definitely use a crawl-walk-run approach. Pick out a few key recommendations and insights and couple that with a few pieces of data related to their goals and objectives. Offer to setup time to walkthrough it with them, and encourage them to invite other team members. Bonus: Prepare a pretty presentation that speaks to the heart of their concerns, but creatively layers in the analytics and actionable insights. Keep the theme focused on their goals, not trying to make analytics shine – the insights/recommendations will handle that. See this as not only an opportunity to develop a strategic alliance, but as a time to educate, and help reinforce a data-driven culture.
As with any strategy it’s critical to use your best judgment at all times. You don’t want to make matters worse or cause division. Remember your goal is not to “win” or “beat” them, it’s to influence them to give analytics a chance so that you can partner to actually help them and the organization. Remember change doesn’t happen overnight, and you can’t “make” people like you, but you can help them see the full picture which in turn could result in yet another successful strategic partnership. You can do it!
If you’ve tried any of the strategies or others I would love to hear about them!