When Steve Jobs was revolutionizing the way we communicate, he had access to, and was creating, the most innovative and advanced technology the world had ever seen.
But Jobs didn’t think that technology alone could change the world. Instead, he recognized the value of the people he surrounded himself with. He believed that the right people on the right teams would change technology as we know it, and not the other way around.
In an interview with Rolling Stone in 1994, he said:
“What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they’re good and smart, and if you give them the tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”
As the technology world continues to change, it’s never been more important to realize that your people can be your biggest technology asset.
It’s the reason we’re laser-focused on finding the right people to join the team at Gensquared, and why we invest in building a strong company culture that supports, grows, and nourishes our people—so they, in turn, can then deliver their best work to our clients.
The people behind the data: Setting up your data analytics initiatives for success
For years, we’ve flipped traditional data analytics initiatives on its head with our product management approach and empathy for business goals and focus on outcomes. And we have the results to prove that our unique approach works. This year, we landed on the 2021 Report on Business list of Canada’s Top Growing Companies, with a three-year growth of 162%.
So, what’s allowed us to achieve better results for our customers?
It’s the people, and the culture, behind the approach that make it work. The data engineers, data architects, BI developers, project managers (and more) who come to work every day and deliver solutions to big challenges are the true secret behind our success.
We’ve learned a lot of lessons over the last 11 years, as we grew from a team of two in 2010 to a team of more than 50 (and growing!) today.
Here are our four must-haves to inspire a healthy, high-performing team culture at your organization.
Culture Must-Have #1: Encourage (and demonstrate) transparency.
A team without transparency at the core of its culture cannot function as a cohesive unit. Transparency in all things—from open, constructive peer feedback to a clear understanding of a project’s timelines and deliverables—is the only way to ensure everyone on the team is on the same page and working towards the same outcomes.
It’s normal for things to go sideways during a project. The key is being open about those challenges, sharing them before they become insurmountable, and learning from them. Transparency leads to trust, and trust is the ultimate relationship builder.
This transparent approach has deepened our relationships with customers like HBC and Cadillac Fairview, both of whom have increased their business investments with us over time.
Culture Must-Have #2: Commit to delivering value.
When hiring, we look for curious, passionate, and driven individuals who want to solve real problems with technology.
Every data and analytics initiative starts with one question: “How will the outcome of this project help our customer achieve their strategic goals?”
This singular focus on delivering quality results allows the team to put everything else aside and focus heavily on only the things that matter.
And because of our product management mindset and agile approach, teams are used to working quickly and efficiently, to deliver results faster (and keep them motivated to move on to the next stage).
Culturally, it’s also important to share wins! When team members deliver value above and beyond expectations, socialize it. Encourage your sales and customer success teams to share testimonials from satisfied customers. Create a culture where value is celebrated and where positive outcomes are shouted from the rooftop.
Culture Must-Have #3: Provide opportunities for continuous improvement.
Everyone makes mistakes.
Let’s say that again: Everyone makes mistakes.
And that’s okay.
In fact, we encourage team members to share their mistakes, so the team can learn and improve from them as a group, and ultimately grow as data professionals and individuals.
This is why we ask team members to check their egos at the door. When we let go of our egos, we are more transparent, humbler, and more open to learning new things.
Another secret to our success as a company and as a team is our commitment to learning. Gensquared invests up to 30% of revenue back into research, development and training, so team members have unlimited access to professional development opportunities and new certifications.
We are tech-agnostic and work with a variety of different technologies and companies, it gives our people the opportunity to play around with different technologies on a day-to-day basis.
It’s a data playground and everyone is welcome in the sandbox.
Culture Must-Have #4: Make it fun.
“If you can laugh together, you can work together.” – Comedy writer Robert Orben
The data playground metaphor is a perfect reminder that work can and should be fun. Data professionals tend to be curious and driven individuals who are always looking for the next challenge… and sometimes, they work themselves so hard they burn out.
It’s important to allow your teams to get to know one another, kick back, and take a break from their busy data-driven days.
Before the pandemic, teams shared offices, coffee makers, and lunch rooms. They could enjoy Happy Hour together after work on Wing Wednesdays at the local pub. It’s a little different today. Socializing on Zoom isn’t easy, especially for infamously introverted data engineering teams.
But there are creative ways to bring teams together, like:
- Set aside 5 minutes at the beginning of meetings for virtual watercooler chats. Or, schedule optional Friday meetings where team members can share the highs and lows of their week and discuss weekend plans.
- Create a #meet-my-pet Slack channel. Trust us. Everyone wants to see your new puppy, and it’s a great ice breaker for new team members.
- The Gensquared team is wild about virtual trivia nights. Who doesn’t want to show off their unique knowledge… and engage in a little friendly competition at the same time?
- Find a cause that everyone can get behind. That’s how we got involved with The Trevor Barton Memorial Foundation, a Canadian charity that helps alleviate poverty by providing publicly available grants to underprivileged youth athletes to cover the costs associated with sports and physical activity.
Create a culture where your data team can thrive
It’s estimated that 70-80% of data analytics initiatives fail. There are a few reasons for this, including focusing on the technology implementation phase at the expense of understanding the strategic business goals of the project.
We think that the seeds of a successful data analytics initiative are planted even earlier: When you hire your team and build your workplace culture.
We hope you’ll take these values back to your team and use them to start building a cultural foundation of transparency, trust, continual learning, and laughter.
PS: Are you or do you know a data professional who would be perfect for the Gensquared team? We’re hiring Data Engineers, BI Developers, Data Architects, and Project Managers. Visit our LinkedIn page to learn more.