Strategies for CIOs With Overly Aggressive IT Managers

Brien Posey, Freelance Writer and Former CIO | 4/15/2014 | 40 comments

Brien Posey
Being a CIO is a tough job, but the job can be even tougher if you have a department manager who is just a little too aggressive toward you or the staff. Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use to cope with someone like that.

If the manager is being aggressive toward you, I recommend being polite but firm. Remember that you're the boss. Don't allow someone with an aggressive personality to pressure you into making uncomfortable decisions. When dealing with someone like this, you must be polite at all times. At the same time, your demeanor must reflect a will of iron. It's a tough balancing act, but it can be done.

Remaining polite, civil, and, most of all, calm is essential. You can't respond to aggression with aggression, or an already tense situation could quickly get out of hand. At the same time, you must remain firm in your dealings with the manager. Otherwise, you risk becoming a puppet.

That's not to say you should never accommodate your manager. Part of being polite is taking the time to listen to what the manager is saying. If the manager has a good idea, you should acknowledge and act on it. It's not only good for the company, but it also can help improve your standing with that person.

One of the things that I have discovered over the years is that, when people are super aggressive, it is often because they are overcompensating for insecurity. Maybe they feels inadequate, or perhaps they feel like they have something to prove. If you suspect that to be the case, then perhaps you can redirect the manager’s energy into something a bit more positive.

In IT, there always seem to be projects that nobody ever gets around to doing, because everybody is too busy. Maybe you can assign the problematic manager some sort of special project as a way of helping to build that person's confidence while getting the manager out of your hair for a bit. I'm not suggesting that you assign this manager busy work. Assign a real project that has real value to the organization. As I said before, you probably won't be able to resolve the situation unless you treat the manager with respect, and assigning busy work is not exactly respectful.

Another thing you might be able to do is to have an honest discussion with the person. Rather than asking why this person is always so aggressive, ask this person how things are going, and ask about long-term career goals. This type of discussion can build good will, because you are taking an interest in the person and looking out for that person's well-being. More importantly, you might even be able to get some clues as to the cause of the manager's behavior. Once you begin to understand why someone acts a certain way, it might become possible to make a few simple changes that improve the situation for everyone.

One last bit of advice that I would give you is not to tolerate abuse in any form. You simply cannot allow an aggressive manager to be verbally abusive toward you or toward the staff. If you allow the manager to verbally abuse you, then you risk emboldening that manager. If you allow the manager to berate the staff, then you risk employee turnover and even litigation.

Standing up to verbal abuse directed at you should be relatively easy. After all, you're the boss. You don't have to stand for it.

Unfortunately, if a manager is being verbally abusive toward the staff, you might not find out about it immediately. IT staff members tend not to view the CIO as approachable. As such, it may take a rather extraordinary event to cause someone to come to you about a problem with a manager. Staff members may instead choose to suffer in silence or look for employment elsewhere.

If you suspect that a manager might be mistreating the staff, then you should discuss your concerns with the HR department. Typically, large organizations have a protocol for dealing with this sort of situation. Trying to investigate and resolve the situation without involving the HR department might seem like the noble thing to do, but it could have legal repercussions.

Unfortunately, every situation is different, because every person is different. There is no sure-fire technique guaranteed to work in every situation. You might have to experiment with a variety of techniques before things start to get better. In any case, my own experience has been that being polite and treating the problem employee with respect will get you further than resorting to threats or belittlement.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 4   >   >>
WaqasAltaf   Strategies for CIOs With Overly Aggressive IT Managers   5/31/2014 6:47:08 AM
Re: Insubordination publicly
The_Phil, yes.

As far as IT managers are concerned, they must look forward towards sustainable growth in IT infrastructure. It is the responsibility of IT manager to give appropriate advices to the leadership esp. in SMBs.
The_Phil   Strategies for CIOs With Overly Aggressive IT Managers   5/29/2014 8:54:11 PM
Re: Insubordination publicly
You're right. When the "leadership" is involved in day to day operations, you will typically see productivity go down, at least in the SMB space that is.
WaqasAltaf   Strategies for CIOs With Overly Aggressive IT Managers   5/28/2014 2:16:28 PM
Re: Insubordination publicly
The Phil, true. This is usually the case with owner managed companies. In organizations where the involvement of owners in day to day operations is minimal, the true management culture steps in which takes care of employees. Obviously we can't generalize that as well.
The_Phil   Strategies for CIOs With Overly Aggressive IT Managers   5/27/2014 7:47:15 PM
Re: Insubordination publicly
Tell me about it. I was consulting for a company. Their turnover was extremely high because the owner always, as they put it, "Made easy things seem difficult & difficult things seem easy" thus leaving the employees always confused. The tough part was that he only wanted things done his way!
SaneIT   Strategies for CIOs With Overly Aggressive IT Managers   5/23/2014 7:39:05 AM
Re: Agressive Managers
The sad fact is that the company probably could afford to lose them they just don't believe that because the person has dug a deep trench that others don't think they could get around.  What I find is that once that person is removed from their position a lot of the drama they brought when defending their position goes away.  
WaqasAltaf   Strategies for CIOs With Overly Aggressive IT Managers   5/22/2014 7:34:36 AM
Re: Insubordination publicly
The_Phil, true. It is a established fact that the biggest reason for staff turnover is the attitude of the supervisor rather than the monetary package.
The_Phil   Strategies for CIOs With Overly Aggressive IT Managers   5/21/2014 5:09:36 PM
Re: Insubordination publicly
I agree. Contrary to most people's beliefs, money is not the driving factor, job satisfaction is. If employees feel appreciated & fulfilled with their work, money will often take a back seat.
WaqasAltaf   Strategies for CIOs With Overly Aggressive IT Managers   5/21/2014 1:29:52 PM
Re: Agressive Managers
SaneIT, true. I know people who are the biggest hurdle in their succession planning. They have come to a point where company cannot afford to lose them and those employees in order to maintain that dependancy factor, do not let management do succession planning.
WaqasAltaf   Strategies for CIOs With Overly Aggressive IT Managers   5/21/2014 1:27:10 PM
Re: Insubordination publicly
Respect is what people need most. IT staff usually gets bashed around by business users and if their own leader i.e. the CIO also does not regard their efforts then there is no reason why staff will remain motivated. Money doesn't give you that.
MDMConsult   Strategies for CIOs With Overly Aggressive IT Managers   5/15/2014 1:29:33 AM
Re: Agressive Managers
@Henrisha True. In that case, the right interpersonal skills must be displayed. Being too aggressive can come off as too pushy and an environment or person one would not want to be around. Coming off as approachable, helpful, trusting, etc al are all desirable traits.
Page 1 / 4   >   >>


The blogs and comments posted on EnterpriseEfficiency.com do not reflect the views of TechWeb, EnterpriseEfficiency.com, or its sponsors. EnterpriseEfficiency.com, TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Brien Posey
Brien Posey   4/8/2014   15 comments
For those of us who work in IT, one of the most disturbing trends over the last couple of years has been the all-out push from vendors to move seemingly anything and everything to the cloud.
Brien Posey   4/1/2014   21 comments
One of the most important and yet least glamorous tasks that must be performed in IT is that of documentation. Even if an IT shop is not subject to any sort of federal regulation requiring ...
Brien Posey   3/26/2014   30 comments
With increasing frequency, healthcare IT is being charged with helping to use data analytic techniques to derive meaningful business intelligence from existing data. For example, it is ...
Brien Posey   3/19/2014   9 comments
It is no big secret that Electronic Health Records implementations have been especially problematic for certain organizations. The incentives for providers to achieve meaningful use and ...
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
moderators@enterpriseefficiency.com
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
SPONSORED BY DELL
CASE STUDIES
EBOOKS
PUBLIC SECTOR RESOURCES
VIDEOS
WHITE PAPERS
WINDOWS SERVER 2012 RESOURCES
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video


On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments


Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments


The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments


TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments


Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments


IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments


TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments


TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments


The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   46 comments


Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   16 comments


New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   16 comments


The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments


We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments


Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments


Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments


Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments


On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments


Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments


A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments


VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments


Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments


Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments


Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments


The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.