Put down that mouse and step away from your screen!

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I am sure you can’t. I cannot either. It is a common problem we have these days where we cannot leave our computers for a moment. This is amplified by our 24x7x52 access to information through our smartwatch and smartphones. We are NEVER disconnected.

This dependence on information and insight can cause us to be TOO dependent on the answers these gadgets solely provide us. As I have discussed in previous articles, it is all too evident that our underlying, core data is flawed and requires constant care, feeding and nurturing even with the best processes and core systems. When we simply report on the “facts” in our analyses without proper context, we face the errors of unforeseen lack of insight. So what do we do?

We drop the mouse, put on our facemasks, step away from the computer to observe and listen. Yes, I mean good, old-fashioned observation and listening skills. Let’s talk to people, maybe not face to face (yet); maybe via Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom, but uncover what is happening the old way… by going to the sources of our data, our leaders. That way we can literally connect the dots between offline and online. This also provides you with opportunities to start conversations with business leaders about my favorite three letter word…“WHY?” Why you are talking to them leads to their curiosity about what you can provide and how you can provide it to them.

Imagine finding just 2 leaders a week to reach out to. Create a script to follow. Start with your old friends and contacts in the business that may not have ever talked to you about People Analytics before. Talk to them about the current challenges they are facing. Then show them what the statistics show from your perspective. Give them a taste of the insights that can drive their decisions and future conversations.

Each week find new items to discuss with new people but keep the conversations short and on track. Make notes of the meetings and refine the strategy. Make sure you let HR leaders in those areas know what you are hoping to accomplish so as not to cause undue suprises and turf wars. Maybe try not to invite those HR leaders as it may change the conversations, since you want raw feedback and their presence may shift it. But, be flexible. You know your leaders and how they might react to direct contact without their presence.

Now that you have started to make these connections and have an open channel you can uncover why major changes in data occur. You will be able to footnote and develop the story behind the numbers that provide the critical context for what the pictures, graphs and data mean. It also will provide the audience for the analyses with the full understanding of what is going on before those dreaded calls happen on “Why do these patterns look this way???”

My favorite reason for stepping away from the data and talking though, is creating that linkage between the analysts and the owners. You are the data analyst and the business leader is the people leader. They own the decisions they make and with your help and the right context, they can make better decisions with your help. After a while, think about the cool visualizations you can create between the offline and online data. I am sure those few minutes away from the computer will be the inspiration of brilliant things to come.

Stay safe.

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