Key Highlights:

  • Many individuals have strong emotions come up when they are told to work with data
  • Creating a safe, anti-shame environment where curiosity is encouraged and all are welcomed to participate in discussions will improve business outcomes
  • Collaborative discussion that pulls in many domains of expertise is most effective for insight

In a previous post, we looked at some of the reasons why cannabis businesses should master their data. Activating data insights can increase profits, efficiency, and peace of mind. In another post, we discussed some of the reasons why cannabis businesses don’t look at their data. For many, setting up data tools can be confusing, expensive and time consuming. It can also be difficult to train end users on data tools, particularly if they are not familiar with data principles.

In this article, we’ll look at the psychology behind data avoidance and discuss ways to shift this pattern of thinking for your team.

It’s not the data, it’s the emotions around the data

Data is a powerful tool that allows businesses to truly understand their customer base. Through data, we can recognize opportunities for improvement and create lasting positive change. Companies who turn a blind eye to data will lose to their competitors that master their data.

This knowledge doesn’t make harnessing data any easier. What emotions come up for you when you hear the word data? What have you observed about other people’s reactions to data, particularly in the workspace?

Most people find data confusing, boring, or intimidating. There may be shame or doubt associated with analysis that creates cognitive dissonance, leading some to avoid data altogether. They might ask themselves “What do I do with this information? How do I decide what is important and what isn’t?”.

This negative association with data can be subconscious. And it’s especially pronounced with employees that think they are “bad at math” or “not good with tech stuff”. In truth, human brains are designed to be incredible at pattern recognition, so everyone is a data analyst from birth. The only question is how to hone that innate skill for the workplace.

3 critical steps to reduce employee resistance to working with data

There are steps you can take to reduce negative associations with data in the workplace. When the workplace is anti-shame and supportive, teams become comfortable with learning how to analyze and activate their data.

  1. Foster curiosity by creating a safe-space when talking about data. Invite your team to openly express challenges and pose questions without shame or fear of retribution. There are no dumb questions here – in fact, questions are the gold of data mining.
  2. Create a warm welcome to all team members regarding conversations about data. Encourage team members who are not well versed in data principles to chime in. They may have fascinating and diverse perspectives pulling in expertise from outside domains. Real insights can come about when we have dynamic conversations with a diverse team, and that requires a container where these discussions can occur.
  3. Normalize working with data a habit by reviewing key metric reports in regular weekly or monthly meetings. The more often your team works with and sees data, the more comfortable they will get asking questions and digging deeper.

Data can be scary and intimidating to some, and if that isn’t honored it’ll never get resolved. To harness the power of data for your business, first look at the psychology of data. What are your teammate’s thoughts on data? Where do they feel concerns or reservations? How can you empower your employees’ journey of learning so that, someday soon, you are learning from them?

Seek to reduce shame and fear of data by creating a safe space, encouraging curiosity and inviting everyone to the discussion table.

Still not sure how where to start?
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