From data analyst to managing analysts — five key tips

Do you love the focus and satisfaction you get from your current data analyst job? What happens when your company pushes you further? If you’re an ambitious type, with exceptional coding ability, there may come a time when you get promoted from technical analyst to team leader.

So, when you’re placed in a position of greater authority with your former analyst colleagues, what should you bear in mind? You want to ensure your team continues to deliver results, whilst you maintain your own job satisfaction. Here’s five key tips:

1. Remember that your analytics team represents you

Now you are (or when you become) a team leader, your goal is to deliver results as a team, no longer as an individual. To do this effectively, you need to empower your staff to take more ownership of their projects and their final delivery. You’re no longer the one on the ground turning the cogs.

This can be frustrating at first if you’re used to being an autonomous analyst. Excellent managers, however, recognise that their strength is their team and their collective skills, not just their own ability to meet deadlines. This may take additional coaching and development if your staff work to different standards to you.

2. Understand that you will have to code less (much less)

As you move into a management role, your well sharpened technical skills become less important and your managerial and leadership skills take centre stage. This may mean less time doing what you love most, but if you continue to code, you may end up micromanaging your team.

You’ll need to step back from the details and allocate the appropriate time to managing business expectations, and delivering results. Your team, meanwhile, will value your ability to juggle internal and external stakeholders, fight battles on their behalf, set clear objectives, and involve them in analytical projects.

3. You’ll have to motivate others to produce robust analysis

As a manager of analysts, you may find that some members of your team occasionally lack your drive and motivation. This can be challenging when you’re used to being solely responsible for your own outputs.

In order to motivate your team to produce meaningful, actionable outputs, you’ll need to explain the value of their contributions and the work they are performing. Also, consider whether you’ve accurately matched the right team members to the right projects—do their skills suit the work they’ve been tasked with?

It’s also important to respect their technical knowledge, and accept that each person has individual expertise. You can’t always claim to be the expert in everything your workforce does. Excellent managers step back from micromanaging and trust their teams to deliver.

4. You may have to performance-manage each analyst

Occasionally, you will have team members who need additional help managing their deadlines, achieving their goals, and generating their best work. It doesn’t mean they are bad at their job, they may just require support.

Recognise that your team members have strengths and weaknesses, and turn negative feedback into constructive feedback as much as possible. Explain clearly how and where improvements can be made, and offer valuable training opportunities where appropriate.

5. You have to lead by example – especially commercial awareness

You’ve probably been promoted to manager thanks to your coding abilities, attention to detail, your ability to see the business challenges beyond data, and perhaps for delivering engaging and valuable presentations on your insights.

The next step, as team leader, is set a similar example to your analysts. Not simply from a technical perspective, but other business capabilities. Demonstrate to your team the importance of soft skills like communication, providing a consultative approach to analysis and using these outputs to lead stakeholders to meaningful conclusions.

If you’re lacking confidence in your managerial ability, or you will soon to be moving from technical analyst to team leader, consider taking a course that gives you an introduction to people management. Managing Analysts by Demarq Academy is two-day workshop designed to help analysts like you adapt to the responsibility changes and mindset shifts that come with becoming a team leader.