Daily Archives: June 6, 2011

IT employee work behavior – part 1 of 4

The vast majority of IT employees have similar work behavior tendencies, , , or personality traits.  So similar it is scary.

We are all unique, but the way we approach work is remarkably similar.

Why is this important?
Because your work behavior tendencies can help or hinder your success. Understand them and adapt where needed and your success will be much greater. And remember, , , this applies to anyone and everyone in your IT organization.

Let me give you an example. If I were to walk into a room of 100 IT people made up of managers, programmers, BA’s, desktop technicians, Help Desk, etc. , , , I already know what the personality make-up of the group will be before getting to know any of them.

I’m so confident, I would bet you a lot of money I could define the work behavior traits of the group.  I’ve seen this repeated time after time.

How do I know?

I’ve observed and researched this issue for over ten years. Initially, I thought the consistency I was seeing was just an anomaly. Later, I understood that there is a certain personality type that’s drawn to work in the IT field. You will see a similar consistency in personality traits with sales people.

It doesn’t matter what position you are looking at in IT, , , years of experience won’t change it, , , doesn’t matter if you are in a large or a very small company, , , and it won’t be any different if you are in South Africa, China or the US. I’ve measured these results in all types of situations and in all parts of the world, , ,  if you are in an IT organization, there is a high probability your work behavior tendencies are going to be like most of us.

I use the terms “work behavior” and “personality traits” to mean the same thing.

In this 4-part post, I want to share things about the work behavior tendencies that exist in the majority of your IT staff. Being aware of this can help you understand why things happen, , , or do not happen.

It can help you realize why certain types of things are such a challenge for some of your people.

Understand this dynamic of “what makes us tick” well enough and you can even use the information to resolve employee conflicts. I know because I’ve seen it up close.

IT attracts a certain personality type

What I’m about to share applies to anyone in the IT organization, , , from CIO to the Desktop Technician. If you are in IT, the personality traits I’m about to share in this 4-part post applies to you.

OK, , , to start we are going to do a little exercise.
I want you to select desirable traits for an IT manager. You could work through this exercise for any position in the IT organization (IT manager, project manager, Systems Administrator, DBA, etc.).

For these purposes, I want you to focus on IT manager.

For each item, I will give you two groups of work behavior traits, , , a red group and a green group. I want you to select either the red group of traits or the green group of traits you would prefer in an IT manager.

There may be traits in both the red group and green group you would like in an IT manager, but you need to select the group of traits you would most prefer, , , it’s either “red” or “green” for each set.

Write them down to refer back to as we cover this topic in the next three posts:
Set #1  –  Red or Green?
Set #2  –  Red or Green?
Set #3  –  Red or Green?
Set #4  –  Red or Green?

Here we go:

Traits Set #1
Self starter
Decision maker
Analytical mind
Creates change
Technically oriented

Prefers to follow than lead
Lacks confidence in new areas
Willing worker

Traits Set #2
Socially oriented
Delegates authority

Enjoys own company

Traits Set #3
Adjusts to repetition easily
Low sense of urgency

Fast learner
High sense of urgency
Drive to get things done

Traits Set #4
Detail oriented
Knowledgeable about the job

Delegates details easily
Casual with details
Not obliged to conform
Lacks follow-up


You should have four trait groups selected, , , something like “red, red, green, green”, , , or “red, green, green, red”, , , or “green, green, green, green”. Keep this handy for the next three posts.

Did you select one of the following combinations?

There is a high probability you did.


Let me give you some preliminary information about what’s to come.

In Part-2, I’ll discuss four key personality trait areas or work behavior tendencies we all have. The remarkable thing is that in three of the four areas, 90% of IT employees have the same tendencies. In the 4th area, 70% of all IT employees have a certain set of traits, , , and I’m guessing you missed this one in your exercise.

What you probably selected in this set is what is desirable in an IT manager but lacking in most IT managers unless they recognize it and do something to overcome it. I’ll explain in my next post.

In Part-3, I’ll share the challenges these groups of work behavior tendencies can give an IT manager. I’ll even share some things they do to challenge your technical staff.

In Part-4, I’ll summarize who you probably are as an IT manager and challenge you to modify a couple of your tendencies to become more successful.

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Teamwork is difficult for IT employees

Teamwork is essential for your IT organization to succeed. None of us would question it.

But did you ever consider that teamwork is not a basic trait in your IT staff. In fact, working on and within a team is a challenge for most of your IT people.

Here is why.

90% are independent, self starters who are goal oriented. Did you hear me say, “independent“?

Also, more than 90% are high detail people who like to do things their way. They are control oriented people who like to do the work themselves and have things done “their way”.

These two issues are not exactly made for teamwork. In fact, they can work against good teamwork.

Does this mean IT employees can’t be good team players? Certainly not, , , but it is important for IT managers to understand that it’s not a natural thing for 90% of your staff who have these two traits  —  independent and high detail.

What this means is that the IT manager must work hard to ensure teamwork is created in your organization and people know how to become good team players. As an IT manager, you want to reinforce teamwork and client service  all the time.

Help your IT staff understand that “we will all be successful together”. If the IT organization (the team) is not successful, there won’t be any successful individuals. It’s about the team, , , not about the individual. When the team is successful, we can all achieve success.

In a functional team, people have very specific assignments and responsibilities. They know how to do their jobs and when everyone succeeds in their work, the team succeeds. Failure in any area can cause the team to fail so people need the tools and knowledge to do their job and you as manager must be certain all things necessary for success are addressed.

People need to look out for one another, , , and help one another. It’s very difficult for someone who is highly independent and goal oriented to want others to succeed or to be the hero. We want those accolades for ourselves.

Learning how to become cooperative and eager to help others succeed is a key strategy you want to reinforce with your team, , , even reward this behavior when you see someone exhibit it.

You have to teach your IT staff fundamentals, , , like a football coach teaches blocking and tackling. Fundamental skills like teamwork, project management, communication, and client service are essential for your success.

Don’t forget to look at yourself when you think about this, , , 90% of all IT managers are also independent and high detail people.