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Secrets of a Successful Chief Technology Officer: #3 — Understand Your Employees

By Hardeep

July 1, 2021
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One of the most compelling tasks as a Chief Data Officer, or anyone in a management position, is learning how to best work with your employees. You can get any degree, certification, or obtain expertise in a skillset, but it will not prepare you for dealing with others. It will, also, not warn you of how diverse and complex people are, and that they all have specific objectives for their jobs and careers. Getting to know your employees and what drives them will set you up for success in many aspects, and will allow you to achieve company goals quicker with the transparency of how best to guide your employees.


Understand Your Employees: Know Their Different Perspectives


Even in the most accommodating of work environments, you will still have employees that look at their position as a “job”, rather than their “career”. Their job is just a means to an end, a way to get a paycheck. This is overwhelmingly normal, and several factors could contribute to this mindset, such as:

  • Being laid off or fired from a previous position
  • Focusing on the well-being of their families, and making sure they secure a paycheck for them
  • The position they’re in is not what they initially wanted or is in a field they weren’t interested in
  • Putting more emphasis on life outside of work, and putting in less effort than other employees

This should not look at as something unfavorable, since we all live our lives a certain way. Rather, look at it as something to be managed. Put emphasis on the outcome and results of tasks, rather than trying to change someone’s perspective of it. Give praise to those that are doing well in their positions. Create opportunities for employees to grow at their craft, or even learn something that is closer to what they wanted. Equip them with the right tools to constantly challenge themselves and keep them busy. Even if they still look at this as their “job”, they will at least consider work a nice environment to spend the majority of their time in. It will give the employee more incentive to put their guard down and know their manager is keeping their best interests in mind.


Understand Your Employees: Know Their Strengths and Weaknesses

You hired your employees because they are good at their crafts. Go through each of your employee’s profiles again. Determine if they’re working on the most appropriate projects. Put them in roles where they can capitalize on their strengths, since it will benefit the business as well as themselves, and help them improve upon their weaknesses. If an employee does not have much experience managing projects, yet they’ve expressed interest in doing so, allow and guide them on managing a smaller project with low impact. Your company should be considered a place where people can grow, as well as contribute to the greater goal. Employees should feel that having individual needs and characteristics is important and appreciated.


Understand Your Employees: Know Different Personality Types

Your employees will have varying personalities. While you may have hired your employees on the basis of core values, like honesty and diligence, that doesn’t mean each individual will have the same way of working. Here are some examples of the types of people that could be on your team and how to best work with them:



Here are those who get their work done, but any communication on a project will be done by email or chat. It will be a surprise if you receive a phone call from them, or if they come up to you and speak directly. If you are an outgoing, outspoken individual, it may initially be hard to put yourself in their shoes and understand their thought processes. If they’re performing well, then you shouldn’t have to change them out of preference. If you did feel you’d like to set more of precedence on how your team communicates, say to that employee, “Feel free to come up and let me know about this. We could sit down and discuss this project together. It would be great to hear what you’ve learned.” Making the atmosphere more comfortable and friendly in that way may help them to open up with their communication.



There are definitely those that have no problem saying what’s on their mind. In regards to projects, employees should always speak up, collaborate or address any concern they may have. They also have the right to express how they feel personally about projects. A common issue that does occur, though, is an employee’s views on their teammates or other employees of the company. An employee may go on about how this other department’s processes aren’t great, how they don’t get anything done, how they can’t stand working with anyone from that department, etc. Think to yourself if you’re okay with that. If it’s not affecting productivity, is that something you can deal with? Did you want to set another precedence that speaking poorly about other departments is not acceptable? In the end, it may come back to you. You need to work with the heads of these other departments. If your employee says something that crosses the line about another worker’s character, then that’s cause to step in.


In No Hurry

These are employees that need to be reminded of the urgency and priority on certain things, or need to be reminded of the type of environment they work in. While there is nothing wrong with having a laid-back attitude, it does not work in situations where something is down, failing, or needs immediate attention. If they are able to push themselves in the moments they have to, then there is no issue. If they can’t seem to understand this concept, you have to push them. Tell them to get to work. There is no time to sit and have a thoughtful conversation about how it would be great for them to pick up the pace; maybe after an issue is resolved, but not in the midst of a crisis. Time is money, and if your employee is dropping the ball, force them to pick it up.

While there are many types of “categorized” personalities in the workforce, these three key personalities are not thoroughly talked about regularly, but they should be understood in good detail. This will allow you to feel as if all your employees are human, and not one of them is too difficult to understand.

As CIO, it is your job to get the most out of your team. It starts by knowing each one of your employees individually and giving them the appropriate tools they need to succeed. This will lead to company success and a more inspired and creative work environment in return.