5 Things that Push Data Enthusiasts Away from Your Company

published by Susana Paço - 2 October, 2019

“Data (Analysts/Scientists/Engineers) are so full of themselves! They can’t display loyalty to a company!”

Yes, the turnover of data professionals in a company can be a scary thing. And many articles talk about data professionals always looking for a better opportunity and that they are headhunted to infinity by many many competitors. But we need to address the issue. Which things inside a company can and will push away data professionals. This 5 reasons come from many conversations with data professionals and managers in the area. Let’s hope that with this discussion we can improve the environment in the data science teams all around Portugal: Shiny New Object Syndrome’ : When the teams are pushed around to produce more and more proofs of concept with the latest shiny software and not finish projects, the professionals can become quite bored, quite fast. POC’s are important but as most professionals, the data science professionals like to feel useful and that their work is valuable. Having a plan with quite a few deeper projects is important to improve the confidence of the team and assure their own sense of purpose,

  • Not paying enough attention to data science beyond the “shiny new objects” – Data Science works deeper than the dashboards and animations created by it. A good team dedicated to data science should have the support of the direction to actually create and develop data science projects that go beyond dashboards and plots. This means having the support of the company to actually improve a project or even the company with the insights discovered by the data. Good data science is used, not just seen, so a happy data science team is the one seeing their projects being used, not just seen. 
  • Not enough space for learning and experimentation –  not having enough space to even breathe is the most common complaint of data professionals. Data professionals might be too few for so many projects but that doesn’t mean that putting your professionals working overtime every single day is a good strategy. With a new area that has no defined protocols to work comes a lot of creative work and a lot of learning. Allowing time for the employees to experiment and learn with new technologies and tech, as well as mentally rest, is the key to have a team that is happy and productive;
  • Too insular and protective of the Data Science Team –  isolation is the worst thing for a data professional. Learning and improving at the pace which data science evolves can be very tiring and scary and motivation can be lost super quickly. Sharing experiences and working together is the best remedy for such feelings. Data enthusiasts thrive when they are arounds their peers and communities and associations are common in the area. Allow and encourage teams to participate in such events so they don’t feel lonely and isolated;
  • Way too many negative comments around Data Science /Unreasonable Expectations – This one is difficult to explain but it’s probably the most important. Data Science takes time and and an immense amount of mental effort from the team doing it. It’s important that the direction understands the effort required from the team and the time requirements for a project so that comments such as “pffft,6 months? You have to do it in 3 months, don’t be lazy.” and “I need a detailed list of all the algorithms that you will use in this project” (before even letting the team see the data” won’t happen and bring the team morale down. The direction doesn’t need to know all the minutiae of data science but an overall notion of what’s required will work wonders to keep a team happy. 

Which things can a company do to keep its data science teams happy? Which things can data professionals do to help companies understand the needs of a data science team? Tell us =)