In order to manage people, you need to understand how they think

CIOs Need To Start To Understand How Other People Learn

In order to manage people, you need to understand how they think
In order to manage people, you need to understand how they think
Image Credit: Board of European Students of Technology Photos

Most CIOs feel comfortable when they are dealing with the things that they know the best which show off the importance of information technology: servers, networks, software, firewalls, etc. However, in order to be a successful CIO we also have to be good at dealing with something else: people. In order to successfully manage the people who work in the IT department we first need to make sure that we understand how they think. If we can master this, then we’ll have smoother communication and stronger understanding of what motivates them. All of this will be good for our IT department.

Different Styles Of Thinking

One of the key things that the person with the CIO job needs to understand is that people who think differently will behave differently in meetings. What you are going to have to start to do is to pay more attention to how the people in your department act when they are participating in your meetings. Some of them will undoubtedly be the ones who bring all of their ideas to the table and then start to work with the rest of the team to reach a decision about what needs to be done next. At the same time, there will be other people who may have a lot of ideas, but who won’t speak during a meeting. Why don’t they speak up? The reason is because they need to reflect on their ideas before they feel comfortable sharing them.

So how’s a person in the CIO position supposed to deal with people who think differently like this? The answer is that you need to change how you organize your meetings in order to meet the needs of the different types of people who will be attending them. One way to go about doing this is to break your meetings up into two separate parts. The first part of the meeting will be designed to lay out the department’s goals and to cover any necessary background material. Its during this part of the meeting that the people who can’t keep their mouths shut will jump in and offer up their ideas. In the second part of the meeting, you can ask the people who needed more time to provide their inputs. By doing this you’ll be able to make your meeting more effective and you’ll be able to tap into the best ideas from everyone on your team.

These types of learners are not the only ones who are out there. There is another group called the kinetic learners. These are the people who cannot sit still during a meeting. In order to think clearly, these people need to pace during a meeting or bounce their legs. As a CIO, you need to be able to capture the thoughts and ideas from these people. One way to make this happen is to schedule walking meetings with these people. You will need to come up with creative ways to capture the thoughts that you have during these types of meetings.

Dealing With Different Thinkers

A key area of communication that CIOs need to be aware of is that how we think can impact how we interpret nonverbal communication cues. What we need to understand is that although we may think that we are sending clear nonverbal cues to a colleague to finish what they are saying and wrap up the meeting, because of how their thinking is wired they may not be receiving our messages. When you discover this, you will need to take a more direct route with them. You can tell them explicitly to “wrap it up” and that will be something that they can understand.

CIOs need to understand that when it comes to communicating with the people who work in the IT department, how we think and see the world may stand in our way. CIOs are often good at quickly picking up on both ideas and theories. However, there is a good chance that the people that you work with are not wired in the same way. What this means is that you may find yourself having to repeat yourself when explaining things to them. This can be frustrating. To prevent this from happening, you can start to use more concrete examples to explain abstract ideas. When you start to do this, your coworkers will grasp what you are trying to tell them much quicker.

As CIOs start to understand that the people that they are working with think differently than they do, we will start to open up to them. We have a style of thinking and we need to be able to feel comfortable asking our coworkers for help even when doing so involves having us admit a weakness. What this means is that when we start to work with someone new, we can let them know what our weaknesses are and we can ask them for their help in making sure that our weaknesses don’t slow down the work that we are trying to do.

What All Of This Means For You

If everyone in this world thought the same way then communication in an IT department would an easy thing to accomplish. However, it turns out that we all think differently and for a CIO that can cause some communication problems to show up. As CIOs we need to become aware of the different ways that people think and then we need to adjust our own style to better interact with them.

People who have different styles of thinking will behave differently in meetings. Some will contribute all of their ideas and some will hold back until later on. As a CIO you can deal with this by changing how you structure your meetings: divide them up into two parts so that both groups have a chance to contribute. CIOs need to understand that they also have kinetic learners that they need to interact with and these people need to always be moving. People who think differently from us may also respond to nonverbal communication signals differently also and so we may need to be more direct with them. CIOs can often quickly understand abstract ideas that we struggle to explain to our coworkers. We need to use more concrete examples when we are describing these ideas to them. The way that a CIO thinks may be a limitation and we need to let people know about our weaknesses upfront.

A successful CIO is one who knows how to get the most out of the people who work for them. In order to make this happen, we need to understand that not everyone thinks the same. This means that we need to adjust our way of thinking in order to allow the people that we work with to contribute their ideas to the IT department. If we can make this happen, then we’ll have more inputs to work with and we’ll be able to make better decisions that will impact everyone.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that a CIO can change how they think in order to get along with the people in the IT department better?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Just a few years ago, the weight loss company Nutrisystem was in a bad place. A combination of events had resulted in a decrease in sales. The global recession along with more competition in the weight loss market had resulted in sales and profits declining for several years. Clearly something had to be done. The company’s CIO, along with their CEO Dawn Zier, decided that everyone in the company had to have a new mindset if the company was going to be saved.

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