If in 2022 you struggled to grow your influence in the office or got your voice drowned out, chances are that you are not maximizing the power of data. I hear you when you say “oh my boss is the type that will always go with his guts. Another feedback I usually hear is that “my line manager is very indecisive and never takes risks, even on matters with little or no significant consequences.” But guess what? No one can ignore good data for long. Not even the most successful “confident” bosses.
What I am trying to say to you is not to give up just yet but leverage on the power of data to maximize your influence. Your goal should not be all about maximizing your influence to stroke your ego, but to add value to your company, customers, and other major stakeholders. Data will always be the deciding factor in major if not all organisations. Data from the finance department, customer data, they all matter. However, it will take a bit of leg work, leaving your comfort zone to focus on getting the right type of data; the good data.
Data if not mined can be of little use or helpful for decision making. Think of data on (Net point system) NPS not properly applied to the context of revenue. This sort of data will fly over the head of the CFO for instance because he/she cannot attach it to the bottom line. So, what type of data can give you the leverage?
DATA THAT ADDRESSES TOP MANAGEMENT CONCERNS
If you can identify two to three issues giving top management sleepless nights, take on one where you can make the significant impact. Just imagine you work at a retail store selling phones and tech gadgets. Sales have been extremely poor in the last quarter of 2022, and you know why. Emphasis on Customer service had taken a back sit for selling units near the end of the third quarter. And it has come back to hunt the retail store. Worse still, because of this approach to overtly focus on sales at the expense of excellent customer service, staff in charge of addressing technical issues were transferred to other branches. So, a customer walks in with an issue and is immediately told to visit other stores to have the problems resolved. Customers usually left the store livid. What do you then do? You should track customer experience, and its impact on store perception and sales. If your numbers are solid, and you complement that with articulate solutions, they should come around and improve customer experience. No one that means well for the organisation will ignore good data for long.
In the previous point, I mentioned identifying several issues. Organisations have a myriad of issues to battle with regularly. Do not go after so much that it leaves you completely open or exhausted like a fox hunting 3 rabbits all at the same time. The result will usually end in loss of focus and sadly, you may even be dropping the ball in your major assignments. That may spell disaster for your career if not responsibly managed. Focus on an issue where you can make a big splash and add value. Avoid spreading yourself thin.
MAKE YOUR REPORTING SIMPLE
This approach has helped me a whole lot. One of my mentors once told me, “When you are writing a report, treat the target audience like they are five years old.” That golden rule has not left me. It is one of my major weapons when I identify key issues, chose the one I am best equipped to (please do not confuse this with the comfort zone) address and present the “kindergarten” report with solutions attached. Why is this important? The board, senior management and your line management have a thousand and one reports on their tables already. Make yours a priority.
And if after doing all of this you still struggle to convince people you report to, (i.e., evidence of actions hurting the organisation), then it is time to move on to another job.