A study conducted by MIT found that companies that take actions based on data increase their profits by six percent and have productivity levels that are four percent higher than companies that base their actions on past experiences or gut feelings. Harnessing the power of data is definitely a good thing, but turning insights into actions requires you to consider how people process information. Assuming that you have accumulated compelling data by connecting data sources across your company; and that you’ve conducted analyses that have uncovered some exciting opportunities, you’re now ready to infuse your teams with information inspiration. Below, we’ve outlined five steps you can take to motivate your teams to take actions that deliver results.
Step 1 – Narrow Your Focus
Equipping teams with exciting new information is wonderful. Equipping teams with too much new information is information overload. Research shows that workers around the world are feeling ill effects caused by the overwhelming volume of information they are expected to process on a daily basis. Dumping data on team members is associated with several negative outcomes, including:
- 25% Feel stressed out by too much information
- 66% Experience tension with co-workers and management
- 66% Experience a marked decline in job satisfaction
To combat information overload, resist the urge to share everything at once. For example, if your data analysis has revealed insights that suggest several marketing programs need adjustments; pick one program and share only the insights that pertain to it. When you prioritize the changes you want to see happen and share information incrementally, you give people time to adjust to new information and process it. You also gain the benefit of a team’s concentrated efforts to solve those problems, which typically leads to quicker resolutions, as well as the implementation of more thoughtful solutions.
Step 2 – Make It Memorable
People are visual creatures. According to Dr. John Medina, author of the New York Times bestseller: Brain Rules, “Vision trumps all other senses. We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10 percent of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65 percent.” Before you share insights with your team, make sure it’s represented in a visual format that will capture their attention and imagination. An easy way to do this is to employ a data dashboard. A good data dashboard will take the insights you want to highlight and transform them into compelling and colorful graphs and charts that help team members visualize the changes that need to be made. If you don’t have a dashboard, enlist the help of an art director or graphic designer from your marketing team to help you turn insights into eye candy.
Step 3 – Wait for It
When you gather your team to share data insights, resist the urge to immediately problem-solve. Yes, we live in a digital age that demands answers now, but as award-winning Creative Director, Jeff Patch stated so eloquently, “Good ideas take time. Great ideas take a little longer.” Once you’ve shared the insights with your team, give everyone a handout of the visuals to post in their workspace. Tell them you want everyone to think about the information for a few days. Ask them to write down their ideas, sleep on them, revisit them, and weed out the good from the great. Next, invite the team to bring their best ideas to a brainstorming session a couple of days after the insights-sharing meeting. Finally, prepare to be amazed at the significant increase in the quality of ideas.
Step 4 – Rock the Vote
Group dynamics can become tricky when attempting to hone in on the best ideas to put into action. Every team has introverts and extroverts, and if not mediated well, extroverts can dominate meetings. This can be detrimental to securing buy-in from the entire team. People need to have a stake in the actions they take. According to Fast Company, engaging employees requires open communication and a connection to both leaders and the purpose of their work. To ensure your team is truly engaged, you will want to make sure everyone understands why an action is something the group should pursue, and then solidify their buy-in by voting on which of the best ideas presented should be implemented first. Once an idea is selected, work with the team to list all next steps and set deadlines for those steps. This provides everyone with clarity on their contribution to chosen solutions.
Step 5 – Reward Results
Once changes have been implemented, be sure to share data-based results with your team. If results are great, celebrate the win as a team. Give folks a day off, a gift card, or a bonus of some kind that fuels their motivation to be change-makers. As The Big Bang Theory demonstrated in the positive reinforcement episode, rewarding people to promote positive behaviors is fun for both leaders and followers.
In the event results were not great, perform a blameless post-mortem to determine what went wrong and why. Blameless post mortems enable people to learn from mistakes and encourage them to continue to take risks in order to achieve results. Lastly, research shows recognition (verbal affirmation) is as powerful as physical rewards when it comes to creating a culture that embraces action. Be sure to thank everyone for pursuing innovation through action. You may even want to solicit ideas for future rewards that will continue to encourage everyone to stay actively engaged.