Bridging the Gap When You Have Different Perspectives

Bridging the Gap When You Have Different Perspectives

I often work with analytics departments to help them resolve communication issues with other departments in their organization.  I typically see such challenges when analytics interacts with two other critical departments, HR and IT .  The different perspectives of these three functional units can impact their ability to communicate with each other which can significantly derail the company’s progress toward accomplishing its strategic analytics goals.

What are the differing perspectives and priorities of the three functions?  Let’s look at how they organize people and their roles to illustrate their differences.

  • Data Analytics leaders tend to look at their team in terms of capabilities.  In other words, they see individuals’ abilities to solve complex problems, create visualizations, or communicate to various levels of management.  Additionally, they often classify levels of data analytics positions based on the required skills or qualifications, such as proficiency in Tableau, a working knowledge in R & Python, or the ability to create complex algorithmic models.
  • HR professionals focus on grouping positions across the organization into like jobs.  For this reason, they typically do not want to add new job descriptions; in fact, they often strive to reduce this number.  They are looking to align any new position, including one in analytics, within the existing organizational structure.  They also view individual jobs as part of a “job family,” which is several jobs that do similar work at various levels. For example, HR will look for distinction among job levels, such as the size of the project, the number of departments they support, or the complexity of the work being done.
  • One of the greatest challenges for analytics leaders can be collaborating with HR in developing an effective, unified and consistent framework for one of the company’s most critical tools – the job description.  This document does more than simply describe the work, it also sets up a path for future career opportunities, aligns positions with the market of potential candidates, and gives clarity to current and prospective employees on what is expected in their roles.  For HR, job descriptions must fit within the standard process or system that is applied across the organization. This is how HR understands and distinguishes each position and assigns pay grades.  However, from the perspective of an analytics leader, it can be difficult to identify and distinguish job positions within this structure, i.e., what justifies a particular role at a senior level, beyond mentoring junior employees, or how a Data Scientist 2 is different from a Data Scientist 3.
  • IT leaders are focused on the data. They must keep it secure and organized in the safest manner possible for the organization. This requires an extreme amount of vision and adaptability.  It also means that the desire to collaborate with and cater to a particular group, such as an analytics team, is often not high among IT’s priorities.  This can create another significant challenge for analytics leaders as they work to align data strategy with the organization’s IT functions. This can include questions of how to best organize and access the data needed to perform the organization’s analytics functions, and how to determine the best reporting structure for data professionals to ensure the best alignment with other departments

Bridging the Gap

So, how do analytics leaders bridge the gap when perspectives differ with the persons you need to collaborate with?  Here are a few tips:

  1. Take time to understand another’s perspective.  Where are they coming from?  What is in it for them?  What are they being measured?  What motivates them?  All of us have a desire to help others and every role helps in a unique way.  Find out how they see their role contributing to the overall mission of the organization.
  2. Find common ground.  Identify and discuss areas of synergy where you have shared goals (even if it’s not immediately obvious)
  3. Get additional support.  Talk with other team members, your boss, or others who work with those individuals or departments to learn what works for them.

Where there is a will there is a way! Following these tips will help you bridge the “perspective gap” with others in your organization.

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