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Hard Problems, Soft Answers

Hard Problems, Soft Answers

It's part of the human condition to live inside one's own head - to assume that others have the same emotional needs, thinking styles and approaches to decision making that you do

Relationships make work meaningful. Not only in the way they humanize daily existence, but in how they ensure that good work is recognized, rewarded and well used. It's through relationships that you will be able to apply the tenets of marketing ("Tell them what you are going to do, tell them that you are doing it, and tell them that you got it done") in a way that isn't viewed as self-serving but instead serves others.

Susan Cramm is founder and president of the California-based executive coaching firm Valuedance. You can e-mail feedback to susan@valuedance.com. Don Reeve is CIO at Wegmans

Reader Q&A

Q: I wonder how many executives understand that sometimes the keys to the outside world can come from their vendors. Many times, I do not sell services; I merely keep in touch. And if something arises where there's a fit, I mention our ability to help.

A: As a CIO, I referred vendors to my direct reports. The vendors I developed relationships with were those who had something interesting to talk about, other than their product - for example, industry and competitive insights.

Q: You say Mr Substance should probably be the next CIO because he delivers the goods but won't be because he's all business all the time. Since when has doing one's job well become a liability?

A: Doing one's job is a necessary but not sufficient condition for success as revealed by a study ("Fool vs Jerk: Whom Would You Hire?" hbswk.hbs.edu). Not surprisingly, most people choose their work partners according to two criteria. One is competence at the job; the other is likeability. What is surprising is the importance of personal feelings as a factor in judging competence. The research found that people are more likely to hire the lovable fool than the competent jerk. Polishing up your likeability may be the best way to ensure that you receive the recognition and opportunities you deserve.

Q: Can you mention other personality assessment tools, other than Myers-Briggs, that we can use to better understand "the guy next to you"?

A: Another assessment frequently used within businesses to improve awareness of self and others is the DISC personality assessment (the acronym stands for the four behaviour dimensions identified in the assessment: dominance, influence, submissiveness/steadiness and compliance/consciousness), which is based on the work of Dr William Marston

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