It’s worth remembering that in many organizations there are negative characters that can create toxic and deflating atmospheres in your workspace. Here’s my run down of the some of the negative personalities you might come across – and what to do about them.

The No it all Guy (or Girl)

This is the one that can’t wait to tell you why something won’t work and continually shuts down ideas and innovation by poking holes – without trying to find ways to patch them. If anyone in my team acts in this fashion I tell them to get out, as I do not tolerate this negative thinking in my space. If you have the talent to figure out why something won’t work, you have the talent to determine what will.

The silent saboteur

This is the person who sits quiet during planning sessions without speaking and waits for a moment far along in the process to say “I knew this wouldn’t work from the beginning”. These people just sit and hope for projects and plans to fail, while never speaking out with their objections, hoping to bask in a moment of failure. I am very clear to ensure that everyone vocally supports any initiative to ensure I root out this approach.

The bureaucrat

This is the person that cites methodology or compliance as a reason to delay or to disrupt work with a “Sorry I can’t do that” (when they can) because the process hasn’t been followed. I am fan of proper processes and methodology that enables work to get done in a responsible and competent fashion. I am not a fan of processes that intentionally distract, and divert effort and productivity from solving a problem. The IT world is rife with processes that add red tape to progress and IT leaders need to examine if processes are working in terms of agility and flexibility to resolve organizational issues.

The ‘Try it now’ Guy

This is the person in your organization whose primary response to an IT failure or incident is “try it now”. They will tinker with systems and rarely provide meaningful information on why something went wrong but miraculously can resolve it within minutes. And yet when you ask them what they did they say they just “tried something out”. These can also be the people that frequently tinker with scripts and code seemingly to solve problems, but don’t communicate to others that they made some changes – and rarely own up if this change causes problems or disruption.

This isn’t my job

We have roles and responsibilities for a reason but being dismissive to someone’s request is not customer friendly and rarely adds value to your organization. Saying “It isn’t my job” is like saying “I don’t really care about your problem”. Find the person who can help or point your customer in the right direction.

In my years in management I have learned that being customer-focused leads to business and organizational synergies that will propel IT within an organization successfully. However, IT is notorious for having customer service issues and dismissing people and problems for less than appropriate reasons.

Everyone can ignore issues but IT is a department that is evaluated on resolving them and we should be steadfast in that mission. Resolving problems also means investing time in our own whether they be people driven or process driven.

Recognizing our own inefficiencies, and the people and reasons that cause them, is the first step to enabling a service driven culture that is based around embracing organizational values.

The Naked CIO is an anonymous technology executive.

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