Thursday, October 19, 2006

How to Hire a Web Analyst - Part 2: Personality

In my previous post, I outlined what I have found to be the right mind set, and the right core skill set to look for in a web analyst, especially when you're looking to hire someone whom you plan to groom into the role.

Today's topic is personality. I've observed three personalities in the quality analysts I've known:

  1. The Critic
  2. The Explorer
  3. The Expert

In reality, pieces of each personality are in everyone I've ever hired or recommended for hire as an analyst, and each is a critical component of a successful individual. I've found that, in a given individual, one personality tends to dominate.

The Critic

The Critic personality is someone who is generally driven to question what is presented as "truth", "fact", or "good". They find reward in uncovering "things that aren't right", creating an understanding of what they've uncovered, and receiving recognition that they've uncovered something valuable. Of course, there is a pitfall to this personality. As with all strengths, this personality taken too far can become a weakness. You don't really want your analysts to go to your marketers and tell them point-blank that their work is awful. Your management challenge with this personality will be to teach them to soften the message to the business; to teach them that it's just as important to show people what's working as it s to show them what isn't working.

The good news is that I've found that this personality is generally well educated, well spoken, and able to distill complex ideas into simple truths, as that is the nature of the Critic. They also tend to be good writers and communicators.

The Explorer

The Explorer personality is curious and driven to understand, but doesn't have the potentially negative "critical" outlook of the Critic personality. They find reward simply from the process of exploring the depths of possibility in the data, and also from "driving good results" for the business. This personality will tend get frustrated if the business doesn't know how to put him or her to good use, but is an extremely valuable contributor when they are used appropriately. As with all personalities, there is a pitfall. The urge to explore has to be put aside at some point in order to finish the analysis, create the story, and drive the actions necessary to create positive impact on the business. Your management challenge with this personality will be to let them explore to the extent required for the business, and to help them develop the discipline required to have an end in sight and work toward that end.

This personality doesn't have the strong correlation to the simplifying mind set that I've found in the Critic. You'll need to watch for that.

The Expert

The Expert personality seeks to be seen as an expert in all that they chose to take on. They receive reward from recognition of their expertise in any number of subjects. This personality makes an excellent consultant, and you'll often find them in a consulting role. This is a confident personality, able to gain trust from their audience even when they don't have all the answers. It's a good personality to have around. Don't confuse this personality with the confident huckster. You still need to watch for the core mind sets (analytical, simplifying) and the core skills of communicating and writing succinctly. You're looking for someone who truly is and seeks to be expert in what they do, not just confident.

I've seen this personality in a wide range of education levels and with varying degrees of communication skill. Look for someone with excellent person to person communication ability, with reasonable writing ability. You may need to coach on the softer business skills such as protocol.


In the next and final post in this series, How to Hire a Web Analyst, I'll look at some of the work experiences and educational backgrounds that I've seen in top notch analysts. Here's a teaser for you... Statistics isn't on my list.


Stuart said...

Spooky. I just fell straight into one of your pigeon holes.

One thing i have noted is that in a large team of analysts 90% of us have astigmatism. Does constantly looking at the world through 'wonky' vision cause us to question everything?

Aaron Gray said...


What an interesting correlation! I've never heard that before but I'm giong to start watching for it.

Thanks for your comments.