People over Tech?

“Where there is a multitude of counselors, there is achievement.” – Proverbs

Food for thought here – “The First 90 Days” – a great book on transitioning – brings out that people get into a vicious cycle that leads to failure by doing the following:

  • They start plowing into technical books trying to master their craft, or trying to master tech tools used within the company
  • They nurture relationships with people above them – their boss – and people below them, but not their peers

What’s the problem with this scenario? Well, anyone who focuses on the ability to do the job – proficiency – over people will put themselves in a vulnerable position. You’ve been hired for your technical ability; but people get fired because of their personalities. Specifically, a new employee that ignores the makeup of people on the team; who fails to nurture relationships with teammates, is depriving themselves of allies and the real information – the experience – that they need to be successful. Inevitably relationship- and reputation-destroying mistakes will be made – embarrassing blunders that could have been avoided with a little more care to the people side of things.

A good friend once took me aside and said, “Dave, in the end, people are the only thing that matters.” Instead of doing what I want to do – the easy thing, burying myself in books, videos and resources in mastering my tech stack – I’m going to focus on people and relationships. I’m also going to try to learn with the more indirect personality types that seem to abound in IT. This is the harder road, but I think – a little more rewarding.


“Treat Others The Way You Want To Be Treated” – the DiSC Profile

I’m not going to belabor this point, but people are different – and must be treated as individuals. Direct and Indirect people definitely interact differently and without realizing it can easily offend each other through misunderstandings. I learned as a “D” personality type hooow important it was to rely on the more introspective, careful “C” and “S” types on my team – they would produce more careful, repeatable results, and catch mistakes from being a little too impetuous!

Here’s some phrases and keywords I noted from a recent class on personality profiles. If you’ve taken a Meyers-Briggs personality profile, you’ll recognize this immediately. For the record, I’m a D/i type – and rank near zero on the S and C end of things.

  • D
    • We say…
      • Here’s how I think we should do this…
      • “Let’s get this done”
      • “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”
    • We do…
      • Decisive, direct
      • Budget or results-oriented
    • We hate….
      • Impatient with people who are passive
      • Second guessing
      • Behind the scenes politics. We prefer to do things in the open.
    • Could do better….
      • Once you make a plan, stick to the plan (unless it’s proven wrong) – i.e. don’t revisit things
      • Meetings must have an agenda and an outcome.
      • Discuss openly different points of view.
  • i
    • We say…
      • Maybe we should do it this way
      • Right on! (collaboration)
      • Stay focused and on point
      • How can we do this differently?
    • We do…

      Summary / trending

    • We hate…
      • Unorganized
      • Rushed
      • No objectives
      • Don’t like wasting time


    • Could do better…
      • We like feedback, teamwork, structure
      • Detail oriented, we like to stand out, we like big rewards


  • S
    • We say…
      • Have we thought this through?
      • Let’s make sure we know the whole plan before we start
    • We do…
      • Heads down analysis
      • Double check / reaffirm
    • We hate…
      • Vague instructions or directions
      • Unqualified feedback
    • Could do better…
      • Clear swim lanes
      • Articulate “why”
      • Thoughtful feedback
  • C
    • We say –
      • Get it right the first time
      • What problem are we trying to solve?
      • How do we define success?
      • Separate fact from fluff
    • We do:
      • Identify and Interview Stakeholders
      • Gather and understand requirements
      • Ensure quality
    • Don’t like
      • Doing things fast and sloppy
      • Telling you to do something without knowing the details/difficulty
    • Could do better
      • Give actionable data – not just talk
      • Give enough time to do things right
      • Understand roles and responsibilities

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