Tag Archives: it employee work behavior

IT managers may need to change their work behavior

changePeople who work in IT have very consistent work behavior tendencies. In fact, 90 percent or more have similar tendencies in three of four major personality categories. The bottom line is that IT attracts a certain type of personality.

These work behavior tendencies help us become successful as technology experts, but they can present major challenges when you move into a management role.

It’s important for any IT manager to be aware of these tendencies and “what makes IT people tick.” Understanding them can help you achieve more success in multiple ways:

  • Being aware of your own personal work behavior tendencies can help you identify areas that need adjusting in order to succeed in a manager position.
  • Awareness of IT employee work behavior tendencies who report to you can help you manage and lead them better.
  • Understanding the dynamics of work behavior can even help you resolve employee problems.


I’ve used several personality evaluation tools in my career. Early on, I didn’t put a lot of credence in their value; I thought they were bogus. I was wrong.

For over 10 years I used these tools in my CIO role and discovered they are accurate in describing an employee’s work behavior tendencies and helpful in many ways. I learned first hand that understanding the work behavior tendencies of a person is powerful insight.

In one company I was the CIO of we acquired 35 other companies. I obtained the work behavior profile of all the IT employees that came with these companies. Their profiles were consistently similar.

Initially, I thought it was just a coincidence. After seeing the same profile over and over again, I finally concluded that a certain type of personality type is attracted to IT. In a similar way, consistent personality types are attracted to sales professions.

I also measured over 100 IT managers who attended my IT Manager Institute for four years. Again, their work behavior profiles were predictably similar.

It doesn’t matter what your role is in IT. Whether you are an IT manager, programmer, systems or network engineer, project manager, work on the Help Desk or even run IT support as the CIO. If you are in IT, your work behavior tendencies are highly likely going to be similar to everyone else in IT.

What’s the point?

It’s simple. The work behavior traits that help you become an excellent technician can prevent you from achieving success in an IT manager role.

Let’s take a look at each trait.

There are four work behavior areas in many of the personality evaluation tools like Myers Briggs and others I’ve used, and here is what I have discovered:

Trait #1:  90 percent of all IT employees are independent, self starters and technically oriented. No problem so far; these work behavior traits can probably help you as much in a manager role as in a technical role.

Trait #2:  85-90 percent of all IT employees have a high sense of urgency. To say we are impatient is an understatement for most of us in IT. High sense of urgency is a good thing for IT managers as long as you approach major problem situations like a system outage in a way that has a calming and stabilizing effect.

Trait #3:  Over 90 percent are high detail and like to do the work themselves. This is great for a technical employee. Programmers and other tech employees achieve success pretty much on their individual performance; they are in more control of their own success. In a manager role, you depend on your employees to get things done. This is a big transition challenge for most young IT managers. Letting go of the detail and depending upon others can be a major obstacle.

Trait #4:  Just over 70 percent are shy and introverted. This is a big challenge for IT managers. As a programmer or systems engineer, strong communication skills are not so essential, especially communicating outside their inner circle. In an IT manager role, strong communication skills are required. The problem with shy people is that they usually don’t develop their communication skills because they don’t deem them to be needed. In addition, shy people have a lower desire to communicate. All of these issues are major stumbling blocks to success for IT managers and must be overcome.

When you think of the first three work behavior traits being at 90 percent or more, it’s pretty much everyone in your IT organization.

One more thing

If you put all of these traits together to make a work behavior profile, it sums up to be an individual who looks at work this way:

  • Let’s do it (self starter),
  • Do it now (high sense of urgency),
  • Do it my way (high detail),
  • and I don’t want to talk about it (shy and introverted)

marineThis is the makeup of an authoritative management style that works well in the military but not so well in a professional business environment.

Modify the last trait by communicating more and you have a persuasive management style. This style is much more effective for IT managers in a corporate environment.

Technical experts who become IT managers need to do two things if they have the four traits discussed above:

  1. Let go of the detail they are so used to being in. Have you heard the phrase, “You need to get out of the weeds!”? Managers must depend on their employees to take care of the detail. It won’t be easy but it’s necessary for your success.
  2. Learn how to communicate effectively. Strong communication must become a core competency so learn what and how to communicate effectively plus put processes in place that force you to communicate.

The good news is that if we need to adjust a couple of our work behavior traits, it is a straightforward thing to do and more success is in your grasp.

This article first appeared in my CIO.com Blog, Practical Management Tips for IT Leaders.

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.

If you subscribe to ITLever (it’s free), you will receive automatic email notification of new posts.  Simply select the EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION link in the right-hand column.