The Secret for Getting Employees to Embrace Data Use

APRIL 29TH, 2019
While many top leaders now tout the value of data to their organizations, there may a distinct lack of enthusiasm by rank-and-file employees for embracing data on a regular basis. That disconnect can spell trouble for organizations that are trying to use data to be more competitive or innovative. Without complete employee buy-in, the data-integration efforts may fall short or even fail.
One of the reasons for the lack of employee enthusiasm surrounding data may be that leaders haven’t made the case that data is an important part of the organization’s culture. A company’s culture – seen as unique and a key way to emotionally energize employees – can be a critical element in getting employees to fully embrace using data to enhance their work and that of the organization. But getting employees to see data as a part of the organization’s culture isn’t simply about creating a few posters to hang in the breakroom or issuing a company-wide email.  Organizations must remember that tying data to the company culture is really about getting workers to accept change. And, just like any change initiative, there are some key elements that are necessary for success. Employers need to:
  1. Communicate often.

    When Santander Bank wanted to make technology changes, it focused on educating employees about why the change was important. “The ultimate goal is to tie it to what we stand for and…communication is critical. If we give people the why behind the what and the how, typically we have the support of the enlisted troops,” says Amir Madjlessi, head of business banking.
  2. Focus on improvement.

    A Katzenbach Center survey finds 80 percent of global respondents say their organization’s culture must evolve in the next five years if their company is to thrive. So, while it’s clear employees understand they need to change, there has to be more direction for their evolution. Brent Gleeson, a Navy SEAL and leadership speaker, says that it’s important that workers be given “meaningful, live data,” not just information about something that has already happened. Outdated and old data doesn’t help workers make adjustments quickly and is “uninspiring and deflating,” he says. Being allowed to make improvements with real-time data empowers employees to “ask the right questions, solve problems, and, ultimately, create a more efficient workplace,” he says.
  3. Understand individual mindsets.

    Not all employees will immediately accept that data needs to become a part of the culture. Some may be intimidated by data and the move toward a digital workplace or be afraid that it will lead to their jobs becoming irrelevant. They may even be concerned about how using data might violate customer privacy. To address such concerns, training may need to be individualized to accommodate different learning styles and to give employees a chance to understand how data will make them more effective. “Sense and listen to your workforce to understand their needs, values and behaviors,” explains Michael Gretczko, a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP. “The key is identifying what your workforce needs and meeting them where they are today.”
If leaders want employees to embrace the power of data and use it to improve business, then it’s important that the company culture not be left out of the equation. Only by tapping into the emotional power of the culture will workers begin to accept the changes and implement data to its full potential.

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