If your data organization is like most, you’ve witnessed plenty of change in the past two years. Popular leaders and managers may have departed. Colleagues who had fully committed to a data and analytics program have moved on, or been promoted. One department or team might have morphed into something else. And you’ve probably hired a number of new analysts or managers, some of whom you’ve never even met in the flesh.

As a data leader, you can’t be blamed for asking, “Should we take a fresh look at this program or drop it? Should we go back to the drawing board on this initiative? Does it make sense to pivot to something new?” Take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone, but always remember to go back to the basics.

Here are a few strategies I try to keep in mind as change becomes ever-more constant.

  1. Remind everyone of the value. It never hurts to focus your organization on why the data journey matters, and that’s never been more true than now. Be plainspoken about the importance of data literacy and direct about the value everyone gets from a strong data culture. That’s true within your data teams, too. I like to take a positive attitude that each time we add a new member to our team, we’re a bit closer to meeting our objectives than before and have more to show for our work. Also, consider that you may have experienced so much turnover that you should launch a data literacy and data culture refresh for your department or your whole company.


  1. Take the time to align. Gallup recently suggested that The Great Resignation should be renamed The Great Discontent. People do leave for salary and promotion reasons, but job engagement often plays an even larger role. As new team members come onboard, remember that they haven’t been part of your data journey yet. They need to hear what the vision is and what it means, find a role to play in the overall narrative, and become familiar with the how and why of your data and analytics tools. Every individual has unique talents to share, so onboarding right now must be a two-way dialogue about personal growth, work-life balance and respect as well as business objectives. 


  1. Managers need special attention. You may be surprised to learn that since 2020, managers have been suffering from burnout more than any other job type after healthcare workers. And that burnout can be contagious. As the saying goes, people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their managers. Work with your managers to help data team members set goals through regular check-ins. Encourage them to praise work that’s well done. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with new leaders coming into the organization who are eager to make an impact, but it’s essential to create common cause with them from the get-go on how they can build on the overall mission. That’s true whether they’re brand new to the company or moving from another group or department. 


One of the ironies of the past two years is that as we’ve shifted to remote or hybrid work, we’ve come around even more strongly to the importance of direct communication, mindfulness, and engagement. As data leaders it’s part of our responsibility to ensure that we actively manage to these goals.