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Use data to make persuasive arguments

#TLDR: Making your statements substantiated with the right level of data improves the Data-drivenJohn'sthe clarity and success of your messaging

Many a time, while writing performance reviews, recommendations for promotion, bonus statements, I have struggled to clarify #why this individual and why now. Over years, the more I thought about such a struggle, the more I realized the importance of data and quantification.

I normally used to get many questions to clarify my proposals and over time, those questions have decreased significantly. Not because my colleagues started to understand the #why, but because I started to make more clear statements with data.

Here are a few examples of how I have changed my statements:

Original Statement

Data-driven statement


John has done a great job on project Mars

John's early delivery of 5 critical path milestones in project Mars saved 200k USD on the cost side (as reported by our controlling dept.)

By providing details of what exactly John did, I had stronger support from my colleagues and management to approve a 1-time bonus payment

Rita's general demeanor was not received well by her team

Over the last 8 weeks, Rita's team members have emailed concerns for her lack of leadership, negative comments, and delayed metrics

Making qualitative accusations are very problematic and hence, by spending time to talk with Rita's team members and getting factual inputs, I had a much easier conversation about coaching needs for Rita with my HR colleagues

​As admin assistant, Mary's helpful nature is the backbone for her colleagues' office day

Over the past quarter, Mary has provided timely assistance for all meetings and presentations. In multiple email messages from her stakeholders, I have seen the appreciation for 'above and beyond' efforts that Mary takes. As a recent example, Mary checked the presentation on project FastTruck the day before and found the file to be corrupt. This was not part of her responsibilities, but she reached out to Tim and got the file corrected. This saved the meeting!

Qualitative statements to praise someone are easy to come by and hard to defend. I used qualitative statements but substantiated them via emails from Mary's stakeholders. This helped me to turn Mary's temporary position into a permanent one.

Jim has been a steady manager over the last year through multiple crises.

Jim's hands-on approach to his people and calming demeanor have helped his team members through many fire-fighting situations. In the most recent incident when plant A shut down due to mechanical failure, Jim quickly assembled the SMEs, went for data rather than perceptions, and delivered a solution that was a team win.

Most managers have to weather crisis and hence, an actual and recent example with specifics about what Jim contributed helped to make a case for a special recognition bonus.

What has been your experience while providing feedback, evaluations, and making case for your people? Is your style more qualitative? If so, how do you make convincing arguments? We would love to know from you! Post your comments below.

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