Skill sets for roles are constantly shifting, retaining talent is now a top-tier issue, and the recruitment market is extremely competitive. This creates an industry where structuring roles and teams to meet candidate expectations and client needs is becoming increasingly difficult.
La Fosse was delighted to host a roundtable event on the 20th of October to gain insights into how businesses are managing this challenge. The event took place in London and was facilitated by Lucie Cassius. We took away the following points:
How do you get buy-in from stakeholders and the wider business?
Your data team doesn’t live in a vacuum; their actions and outputs should affect every element of your business, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone is automatically on board. You may come up against HR and key stakeholder constraints, and budget limitations could be an issue if the people within those departments aren’t bought into what you’re trying to build.
“Make friends” internally – develop relationships with the right people to drive your agenda. Understand what different areas of the business need and communicate how the data function will support authentic evaluation and improvement for each. Showcasing a project to the wider business can help to bring about some faith in the pathway you’re trying to forge.
What skill sets are needed within the data team?
Whilst the basis of technical ability is obviously key, softer skills like stakeholder management and communication are just as vital to the success of your team. It’s often a rarity to find individuals that possess both these criteria; those with exceptional technical ability are often lacking when it comes to interacting with stakeholders, and those with fantastic communication skills don’t usually have the depth in practical expertise.
Senior members of the team need to have a strategic understanding, so they not only know how to build dashboards, collate data, engineer and produce reports, but they also drive the ‘why’ and can monitor the impact the data team’s work is having on the wider business.
Are candidates expecting too much?
The market is highly competitive, and with new ways of working leading to a more accessible interview process, lateral movement within the industry is prevalent. Many graduates have an unrealistic expectation of career progression – with so many employers fighting for them, it’s not hard to see why – but that doesn’t necessarily align with the roadmap you can provide.
The need to attract top candidates shouldn’t replace hard work; promotions and title changes are still the result of contribution and success. Adding individuals to an already entrenched team needs to strike a balance between talent-attracting packages and equality with the existing employees.
Should ‘Head of’ positions mean people management?
Defining what a role means in terms of responsibility is important, especially for those in more senior positions. Should the title ‘Lead’ or ‘Principal’ be defined as an individual contributor role? Would you expect someone with the job title ‘Manager’ to be managing a team? Are you using the correct terms and titles to attract the right candidates? Ensure clarity on what these roles encompass from the outset.
Does the tribe/squad/chapter model work?
Building tribes or squads that are focused on different elements of a product/business, for example, mobile or customer success, naturally depends on the size and structure of the wider business.
Although renaming your team won’t make you instantly more effective, it is a great way to promote teamwork and innovation, as well as give individuals a sense of enablement and ownership. Smaller business units have still seen great success from building a centralised team and identifying a ‘data champion’ across different business units that can communicate directly with the data team.
How do you retain and develop your talent?
Set quantifiable measures from the beginning. What are OKRs and success indicators when it comes to the data team? Those objectives need to be reviewed at least every quarter, with goals updated so that people know they are working towards a roadmap in their careers.
It’s motivating for your team to know where they are making an impact and the areas for improvement to concentrate on going forward. Team leads should also look at self-reflection; are they improving the delivery and accuracy of the team, are they improving the delivery and understanding across the business?
If you’re interested in understanding more about our series of Data Events or attending, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.