Why data analysts need soft skills to complement technical ability

There’s a danger, when you’re a manager of analysts, that your team’s personality can get lost behind spreadsheets and data.

Whilst it’s important to be recognised for your technical outputs as a team, raising your workers’ profiles in the business takes more than data insights. It requires a set of soft skills that give your team the confidence to communicate and consult on these insights more effectively. These essential skills can set your workers up for opportunities further down the line, and help them develop their analytics careers.

So, if your data analysts are reluctant to step away from their desks and outside of their comfort zones, it’s worth reminding them of the benefits of soft skills.

Why are soft skills important to data analysis?

Today, being good at a job isn’t the only condition for getting ahead in your career. If key stakeholders and business influencers aren’t aware of your analysts, it’s likely that the latter will miss out on opportunities to improve their skills and take on more interesting projects.

This, unfortunately, is despite all their hard work and excellent technical performance. It’s not only what they know that matters – it’s how they present themselves to the wider business, and who else knows their potential. And this has positive repercussions for you, too.

Benefits of raising your analytics team’s profile

When your wider business is more aware of your team’s capabilities and performance, it delivers a number of benefits to you as their manager.

You’re more likely to be consulted on key business decisions, be involved in strategic developments of the company, and pulled into higher-level projects. You input will be highly valued, and you can position yourself as an indispensable part of the business.

Visibility of analytical outputs is key

When it comes to your own communication, can you distil what your team does in one or two short sentences? Is it more than ‘data analysis’? For example, if you’re working on a key project, what’s the planned outcome or the expected benefit to the whole company?

Can you state it in a phrase or two?

If not, you may want to rethink how you frame your team’s output so that it lines up with your business’ overall goals and objectives.

Share your team’s achievements across the organisation

This may not always come naturally to your analysts, or even to you, but it’s incredibly important to market your successes to the rest of the business.

This will benefit each of your team members individually and as a group in ensuring you have the attention and resources you need from the board and other stakeholders.

Invest in soft skills training for your analysts

Communication and personal visibility are not skills your data analysts will always naturally posses. They may feel happier quietly getting on with their jobs, letting the wider business’ perception pass them by.

These communication skills are not just necessary to push forward their careers, however. Soft skills are equally valuable to improve their current job satisfaction and to ensure they are getting the most from their roles now.

At Demarq Academy, there are plenty of workshops for data analysts that your team can attend to help them achieve their personal and professional objectives. Storytelling with data helps your analysts lead an audience to an emotional conclusion, whilst presenting data for impact encourages better buy-in from the business.

Overall, such soft skill courses give your team the confidence to go beyond spreadsheets. They ensure your team’s profile is presented more accurately, and your managerial position is elevated in the process.