IT Employment

Five things your boss doesn't want to hear

If you'd like to develop a better relationship with your CIO, you might want to check out this list of things your boss doesn't want to hear.

If you'd like to develop a better relationship with your CIO, you might want to check out this list of things your boss doesn't want to hear.

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Mary K. Pratt wrote a good article for Computerworld after she asked a group of 2008 Premier 100 IT Leaders to talk about the kinds of messages they never want to hear from their staffers.

Here's the list she compiled from the conversations:

Don't talk only about the technology and not about the business. These CIOs say that technology-for-technology's-sake won't get you far. You should couch any technology discussions in terms of what it would mean to the business. Don't be too enamored with one solution. Most IT people have a technology preference (just witness some of the fights we've had in TechRepublic's forum over the years about Linux vs. Windows). Be open to all solutions. Don't operate from the stance that something is impossible. No CIO wants to hear this word. A task may be insurmountable, but the best way to get that across is to present the challenges in a logical way. Let the CIO come to the conclusion about whether it's still worth pursuing. CIOs don't want to hear you express bad opinions about your colleagues. CIOs want their employees to work out problems on their own. No surprises. This seems a little contradictory to point number 4 to me. Pratt quotes Ian S. Patterson, CIO at Scottrade Inc., a St. Louis-based online brokerage firm, as saying he "always prefers to hear news -- good and bad -- directly from his workers." How would one address the fact that a colleague may be causing delays in a project without expressing a bad opinion? I guess it's all in the way you say it.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

13 comments
mark.giblin
mark.giblin

I culd tell you five things your boss does not want to hear, however, it would not be prudent to post them.

drl.techrepub
drl.techrepub

If the CIO asks me if something is possible and I say "No" it's because I have the expertise to know the answer (that's why they asked me isn't it?). If the CIO just wants a glove puppet then I can suggest a good toy shop where they can buy one. If the CIO chooses to ignore my advice then goes on to blame me for not making it happen, that's a no win situation (I bet any money you like that just about everyone reading this has been there!) and no-one in our trade should EVER put up with that nonsense. "If you can't do it I'll find someone that can..." should be met with "I wish you luck with that. Goodbye". What's true is true. There is no Santa. Deal with it. My suggestions to bring balance and stability to our trade and the world in general: * No person should ever earn more than 10 times the wage of their lowest paid employee. * Get rid of the stock market. It's a fiction, a nonsense, it's gambling with our economies at best and I'm being polite in not calling it what it is in more plain terms. The idea was to invest in good ideas. It's become a monster and a greed magnet.

alex.kashko
alex.kashko

1. Agree, but I woul like to try some form of manager education as well, do they absorb high level tech info without realising it 2. Agree, but if any solution works try your favourite. 3. If you think something is impossible ask time to research it as it may be difficult. You may surprise yourself. 4. Hitler too wanted subordinates to work out problems on their own. I believe even the trains failed to run on time. Bad opinions need diplomatic expression. I once had to mentor a junior developer who had commitment and potential. For three months I told the managers she needed more support than I had time to give. After that she needed hardly any help. I was careful NOT to phrase it as a negative opinion. 5. Agreed. Surprises are not welcome, but most of my Project managers preferred to hear bad news early.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

I'm sorry but if you want to know; I'll tell you like it is. It isn't fair to do all the work and get a portion of pay, recognition, or whatever. Always be prepared to get another job in cases like this. I don't advocate being a a tattle-tail. However, you should speak your mind when you workload spikes beyond what you can handle and everyone else is coasting waiting for the clock to run out and hit the parking lot.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

they have to hear them, like it or not. I mean who are they to tell people what they LIKE to hear!!. I would LIKE $10,000 more per year, I could write a paper on it. Doubt I would get it.

warpindy
warpindy

There is a lot of truth in the article, especially the part about "no surprises". It is contradictory to point 4 but you have the choice in management to tell the other person to tell you what is going on without pointing fingers. If it is bad news and someone is not doing there job you will be able to find out real quick.

Jeff Dickey
Jeff Dickey

Yep, spot on. The true art of corporate newspeak is to convey information indirectly. Instead of saying "Anil is screwing up the project; he's blown his last five deliverables", you might say something like "The project has some challenges; we've had some late deliveries from the team, and these here (insert bullet list) seriously jeopardize our ability to roll out less than a month late." Now the technical folks get a new data point on "what kind of boss is he?" If the boss in question looks at the list, does a little analysis on the bulleted problems, realize they're all from one team member who hasn't delivered on time in months, and goes to have a behind-the- woodshed talk with him, then morale and productivity improve. If, however, "PHB Syndrome" sets in and *the entire team* gets yelled at and pushed harder, then look for the best people to leave, shortly. I have yet to see a "speak-no-evil/hear-no-evil/see-no-evil" shop that didn't wind up as completely dysfunctional and non-productive in a very short time. Such organizations may live on through heroic application of political skill and talent, but rarely with any technical or true business justification. And without those, IT as a whole gets blamed again for "runaway costs with no benefits". It's a management issue, folks. Deal with it.

grobeson
grobeson

So true. They won't listen anyway.

RFink
RFink

For long term investing (5+ years) it's one the best things around. It's the day traders and market timers that give it a bad name.

lauterm
lauterm

I love the part about getting rid of the stock market. It sickens me every time I hear someone complain about high gas prices but still has money invested in Chevron. Before you say not me, look at your pension plan and your money market funds. What kind of companies are they investing your money in?

jason
jason

I remember learning the business talk.

bfpower
bfpower

To me it seems the difference is whether you are focusing on people or focusing on the project and the business as a whole. Blaming people is bad and violates the rules in this article; explaining setback with the project is necessary. You can do both, it's just a matter of perception. If you as a project manager focus on people's faults, you are not effectively managing yourself - focus on what is best for the business and you will make your CIO happy (hopefully).

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