August 24, 2008

Ten Things Your Analyst Hates

You're a fabled executive at a well-respected company. Your analyst is in her fourth year of supporting your initiatives. How's the relationship going? Take a peek under the hood at ten things your analyst hates.

Hate #1 = Prescription: You love stopping by her desk with a well drawn out spreadsheet that outlines the report you want created. Your analyst, however, hates being told exactly how to do everything, step for step. A former co-worker of mine called this "read a step, do a step, get a banana". Mix things up, ask your analyst to create a report without constraints, and see what you get. This might be the most accurate way to judge the potential of your analyst --- can she develop useful insights on her own, without your gifted leadership?

Hate #2 = Salary Discrepancy: You feel great, because your analyst is paid in the meaty mid-section of the $45,000 to $65,000 salary band. Your analyst resents you, because she's calculated the annual profit that would dry up if she left the company --- and she's accurately pegged the number at $1,434,000. She wants 15% of every dollar of profit she generates. You can solve this by offering spot bonuses for brilliant and useful work --- give her $7,500 for brilliant work on a big project, and you'll see her motivation go through the roof.

Hate #3 = Poor Computers: You believe you've done a great job of stretching the information technology budget by purchasing your analyst a new computer thirty months ago. Your analyst has a home computer that is seven times faster than the one you provide. Give her the computer she needs to do her job --- the $3,000 you'd spend a year will be offset by more than $3,000 of profit, right? Take a look at the equipment you provide your creative team, the 23" monitors and high-powered Macs --- why doesn't your analyst qualify for comparable equipment?

Hate #4 = Poor Systems: You're amazed that you were able to get your information technology staff to add one more summarized field to your table structure. Your analysts are talking to folks at about real-time reporting systems that modify the homepage on the basis of A/B tests executed seconds earlier. There's no faster way to lose analysts than by not giving them the systems infrastructure they need to be successful.

Hate #5 = Poor Software: You remember the software you used on a mainframe back in the 1980s, and think that an updated version of that software is good enough, right? Your analysts are talking to the folks in Silicon Valley, and know of a startup that integrated Google Analytics with SAS, resulting in unparalleled insights. Your analyst hates being behind the curve, so help support them a bit!

Hate #6 = Lack Of Publicity: You just got off the phone with CNBC, and feel good about the interview you just gave. Then you go tell your analyst that budgets are being cut, that she cannot present her paper on "Four Ways To Use Arrays To Improve Reporting Efficiency And Generate Web 2.0 Buzz". How excited do you think she'll be to create your prescribed spreadsheet tomorrow morning? Analysts want to be recognized, with one of the least expensive forms of recognition being speaking engagements at conferences. She's not going to give away company secrets when telling folks how to write code.

Hate #7 = Company Secrets: Your analyst knows that you share information with the investment community, information that many would deem proprietary and secret. And yet, she doesn't understand why she cannot help poor Jenny Dimpleton with her Google Analytics problem on the Yahoo! message board. Trust me, the fact that your team came up with a new way to implement measuring goals with Google Analytics is not a company secret. The fact that you understand why comp store sales are up two percent in a poor economy IS a company secret! Recognize that some facts matter, and some facts don't matter. Let your analyst share facts that don't matter.

Hate #8 = Hours: You work from seven to seven, and think your team should work those hours as well. Your analyst hates you, because you force her to be in the office from seven to seven, and then you require that your report be presented at seven tomorrow morning, causing her to work from home from eight to ten tonight. Cut her some slack! Let her go home at three in the afternoon if it means she's working from home. Heck, let her stay at home all week! That's one less person you have to deal with.

Hate #9 = Being Obtuse: This might be one you cannot fix. Your analyst hates it when she produces a brilliant analysis of your spring merchandise assortment, only to have you draw exactly the opposite conclusion from what was outlined in the report. She wants you to LISTEN to her! Analysts struggle with management teams that already made up their minds on topics without the benefit of contradictory data. If you disagree, politely explain why you feel differently, using facts (and not the words uttered by your VP of Finance in a meeting earlier today). An analyst hates seeing facts trumped by opinions.

Hate #10 = Career Path: Your analyst resents the fact that she has no career path. She hates it even more that you don't recognize this fact. Let's face it, there are almost no companies that have a Vice President of Database Marketing, or a Vice President of Web Analytics. Your analyst knows that the "you can apply for the VP job in Merchandising" line is pure pap. Your analysts is looking for you to reward her, in spite of the fact that there will never be a career path that meets her needs. Your job is to be creative, and define a structure that helps her feel rewarded.

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