Tag Archives: work behavior

Why I became a believer in IT work behavior tendencies

Have you ever had two employees who didn’t get along?

Do you wonder why some people can’t seem to do certain types of work?

Do you wonder why you struggle in communicating with your clients and employees?

Are you aware technology attracts a certain type of personality and 90% in your organization have three of the four traits in that personality type. That’s right – 90%!!

There are very specific reasons in what makes an IT employee “tick”. It doesn’t matter if you are the CIO, a Programmer, or a Desktop Technician, , , if you are part of an IT organization there is a high probability your work behavior tendencies are similar to all of us.

Every IT manager needs to understand the dynamics of IT employee work behavior!

Our personality traits help us as technicians but hinder us as IT managers!

I didn’t know much about all of this until 1990 when I joined a new company as their CIO. This company used tools to measure the work behavior tendencies of its employees.

At first, I didn’t believe in any of this “hocus pocus”, , , it was a bit far-fetched for me.

Then, three things happened that locked me into the value of this forever.

First, I shared my work behavior profile summary with my wife of 20 years at the time, , , someone who knows me better than I know myself. I asked her to read the profile and tell me who she thought it described of the people we know. Her answer, “It is you, Mike.”

My response was to point out phrases in the summary and told her that I wasn’t like that.

Her response was quick, “Yes you are, , , you just don’t admit it.”

I still had a lot of doubts about all of this.

Second, I went to a class to learn about using the tools as a manager a week later. At the class the Instructor had us take the 10-minute survey again and taught us how to grade it. My results were very different from when I took the survey during my interview. In fact, two of the four measurements were almost opposite of what they were before.

Not only that, the Instructor showed an example of what my results looked like and made the comment, “If you have a manager with these indicators, , , he needs serious help.”

This caused me a lot of concern, , , I’m a manager who needs lots of help?

I pulled the Instructor aside during the break and asked him about what was going on with me. “Why has my profile changed so much and help me understand what you mean by giving this person help?”

His answer, “Aren’t you the new guy at Medaphis?”

My response, “Yes, but what does that have to do with this?”

He posed another question, “Do you have everything figured out about what you and your team need to work on?”

My answer, “No, not at all, , , I’ve been there a week so I’m still trying to learn the names of people and what the issues are, , , I’m several weeks away from this.”

You see, I was a little disappointed I had to attend a 3-day class when I knew I needed to be in heavy assessment mode to get to where he was asking me about.

Then he gave me information that clicked. He said, “This is exactly what your profile says. When you interviewed, you were in another company and had been managing several years there, , , you knew what the issues were and what your team needed to do to be successful. It’s what your interview profile pointed out.” He had already seen my interview profile.

He added, “Today’s profile reflects you being in a new company and you don’t yet know who all the players are, let alone the issues and what you need to work on. What it says to me is that you are telling yourself to slow down until you get more information, , , it says you are communicating much more than you normally would probably because you are meeting so many new people and discovering what the issues are. It also says you are depending more on others right now than you normally would, , , all of this is normal in a new management job and in a new company.”

His last comment was big, “Once you know what the issues are and what you and your team needs to focus on, this profile will snap back to what it was when you took the survey in your interview.”

He was right, , , even the managers who worked for me at the time can tell you when my work behavior “snapped back” to my normal management approach. Once I knew what the IT support issues were and understood my organization’s capabilities, , , we started pushing forward as opposed to treading water while I was in assessment mode.

This opened my eyes and I began to think there might be something to it.

Third, and this was a clincher that happened about a year later. I had two managers who reported to me who could not seem to get along. I had worked with both of them in a previous company and knew they were both strong managers. They should have been doing amazing work together but they were fighting one another.

I couldn’t figure out why these two managers could not get along so I called the Instructor of the training program I attended for his help.

I provided the profiles of each manager and explained the situation. Without hesitation he said, “The reason is very obvious, , , it is right here on their profiles”.

Well, it certainly wasn’t to me but he was right on the mark in what he told me. I sat down with the two managers and explained the dynamics of what was going on and it resolved their differences once and for all. They were amazing managers and worked very well together and were supportive of one another after our discussion.

Startling similarities
I’ve studied and measured IT employee work behavior over ten years and discovered startling similarities in almost everyone who works in IT.

In fact it is so predictable that if you put me in a room of 20 IT managers or 20 programmers, I can confidently tell you what the profile make-up will be of the group, , , even before talking with anyone or determining each person’s work behavior profile.

More validation occurred in my IT Manager Institute
I was able to measure the work behavior tendencies of over 200 IT managers from all parts of the world. Every class had exactly the same make-up with 90% the same in three of the four measurement categories, , , exactly the same results I saw as a CIO for the 8 years I used similar tools.

Initially, I thought it was an anomaly, , , I concluded over time that certain personality types are drawn to work with technology. These employees become IT managers, , , and this is where the challenge presents itself.

What helps us succeed as technicians actually hinders our success as managers. 

The point and benefits
Every IT manager needs to understand IT employee work behavior, , , it is the underlying reason why people do things the way they do, , , and IT employees have very similar traits.

Knowing what makes your people and yourself “tick” is important because it helps you  several ways:

  • understand why things happen
  • resolving employee conflicts
  • assigning responsibilities that aligns with an employee’s work behavior tendencies
  • understand why some things are difficult and others are easy for you

I developed a 4-part series of articles for my ITLever Blog that explains this.

Two ways to learn more about IT employee work behavior
1)  Online training session, , , an excerpt from my IT Manager Institute Self Study.  Learn why the two managers were fighting and what I did to resolve the conflict.



2)  4-part article series

Part 1    IT Employee Work Behavior


Part 2    Who we are


Part 3    Challenges in who we are


Part 4    70% in IT have authoritative management style


I hope you watch the 30-minute video and read the articles, , ,  this information will probably be an eye-opener for you just as it was for me.

Understanding work behavior tendencies of your people and yourself gives you an edge in managing better and will help you achieve more success.

Best of success!

IT employee work behavior – part 4 of 4

70% in IT have authoritative management style

I summarized the work behavior approach for the vast majority of us in IT in the last post and said I would tell you more in Part-4. Here is the summary for you once again:

Work behavior traits for groups A, C, and D are 90%, , , that’s essentially everyone in IT. Remember, it is managers, DBA’s, Desktop technicians, , , anyone in the IT organization from what I have seen with my research.

Group B is the shy and introverted group of traits. 70% of us don’t want to discuss the issue, , , we just want you to “do your job.

This profile is an authoritative manager profile:

  • Do it
  • Do it now
  • Do it my way
  • No discussion

Roughly 7 out of 10 employees in your IT organization are “wired” this way. They have authoritative management styles in their approach to work.

I’m “wired” this way, , , you are very likely “wired” this way. Roughly 7 out of 10 people in your organization are “wired” this way.

This is not necessarily a problem, but it certainly can be as you might expect. Here are a couple of reasons why:

  • People are resistant to change. If you do not explain it and convince them of some benefit to them, , , they quite often resist.
  • Clients do not like having things forced upon them.
  • Independent people (like 90% of us in IT are) do not like to do things “your way”, , , we prefer to do it “our way”.

Make one subtle change and you change your approach from “authoritative” to “persuasive”. Modify the part where you do not want to discuss the issue by explaining the reason for things and the benefits in doing things, , , and you become a persuasive manager versus an authoritative manager.

This is a big deal and is a much more effective management approach in most situations.

Let me explain the difference. In a military combat situation, , , you want split second decisions to be made and you want the troops to follow the commanding officer’s direction without flinching. In this situation, authoritative management styles work very effectively and are actually what you prefer to have.

However, in a professional setting like your IT organization, persuasive managers are much more effective and have a stronger following with team members.

One slight tweak makes you a much more effective IT manager.

But don’t get me wrong, , , changing your communication approach at work will not be easy. Remember, your “DNA” is telling you that you probably aren’t a very good communicator and you don’t like to communicate with people outside your immediate network.

In my personal situation, I intuitively made the change from authoritative to persuasive before I ever understood anything about work behavior. I believe I must have learned when I was in the US Marine Corps that you get a much better result from IT people when you explain things rather than simply give them orders.

Now, in the Marine Corps you can just give an order and can expect your men to carry out the order. If they don’t they can go to jail, , , it’s a pretty simple deal.

But, if you want the best results, , , your men need to understand why we are doing things and what’s in it for them, , , the benefit to them. Even things like going on a 3-mile run is something they need to understand, , , otherwise, they kick and moan about it and it’s not as good a result as you would like.

I saw this dynamic work in my early years of management so over time my approach at work became more persuasive than authoritative, , , I modified my work behavior by communicating more and the results got better.

Let me repeat, , , I actually modified my personality at work from a manager who tends to naturally want to just give orders and expect you to do the work and not ask questions to a manager who explains why we need to do these things.

Changing your behavior at work does not change your basic personality. In reality, , , I’m still deep down that authoritative manager and would prefer to have no discussions, , , but I have learned that I get a much better result when we explain and convince the team why we need to do something and the benefits we will receive. So, , , I have the discussions. It takes time and energy but it’s worth the effort.

At work, people see me as a more social and outgoing person than who I really am, , , I change my personality at work to do what is necessary to do a better job.

Other things happen at work as well, , , I force myself to communicate. I force communication events with employees, clients, senior managers, , , even vendors. It’s not something I inherently like to do but I know stronger communication is necessary to get the job done, , , so once again, I modify my personality at work and force myself to communicate with others.

This is why understanding the dynamics of work behavior can be so helpful in contributing to your success.

You have to learn who you are and identify if your approach to work will be effective. If you are lost in the detail, , , you have to find a way to “get out of the technology weeds” and depend more upon your people. If you aren’t communicating effectively, , , put processes in place that force you to start communicating more with staff and clients.

You can modify your work behavior approach and for many IT managers, you will need to if you want to be successful.

How do you learn “who you are”?
There are three tools I am familiar with and all three are effective tools in discovering what makes you tick:

  1. Personalysis
  2. Myers Briggs
  3. Predictive Index (PI)

If you follow my work in the ITLever Blog, read my books, or attend one of my classes, , , you will discover that I define what you need to do to be successful and how to do it, , , and give you tools to help you make it happen.

It’s your job to learn who you are and whether you have to modify your approach to do these things.

What you will also discover is that many of the processes and tools I use are specifically designed to overcome some of the work behavior tendencies that can cause an IT manager problems.

For example, let’s take the “lower desire to communicate issue” inherent in an introverted and shy person. I know I’m one of these people so two of the communication processes I initiate in a company is to hold monthly IT staff meetings and monthly client status meetings. We schedule them and it forces me to prepare for the meetings and to communicate with clients and employees, , , otherwise, I probably will not get around to it.

Learn about the dynamics of your personality and work behavior tendencies. It will help you become a better manager. Take it a step further and learn about your individual staff’s tendencies, , , it will help you manage and lead them more effectively.

Learn more by viewing an online training module taken from the IT Manager Institute Self Study program, , , go to my next post.