It is GOOD for YOU to Show You Care

It is GOOD for YOU to Show You Care

A few years ago, I observed a new IT executive snap at his lead technical architect about what did not seem to be a major transgression. Later in the day, I witnessed an even more aggressive and public criticism of a project manager during a quarterly program review. I can still see the embarrassment and devastation in the project manager’s eyes. More importantly, the silence in the room screamed of the intimidation felt by everyone present.  
I pulled him aside in private after the meeting and asked if everything was okay. He was a smart guy with a career built on his technical prowess. I did not know him well, so I wanted to see if I could be of help and give him the benefit of my understanding. You can only imagine my surprise when he replied in a cheerful tone that everything was great. I did not let it go. My reply was something to the order of “Really?” 

Upon further conversation, I came to understand that his gruffness was a purposeful put on. How would his team respect him if he was “nice?” In his mind, they would see him as a pushover. When in fact, his team lived in fear of his outbursts.  

In the beginning, his blustering behavior appeared to be working for him in the eyes of his leadership. After all, his reputation was built on innovative solutions and delivery of his commitments. It took poor employee engagement ratings and high turnover before the organization recognized his behavior as toxic. Fortunately, they provided him executive coaching, and he was astute enough to realize the need to change. 

This was certainly a rare worst-case scenario. Or was it?  

Picture this; it may bring the answer to life:  Do you know of any highly intelligent, very technical person who isn’t socially adept and stuck in their career? A lack of EQ is often the reason you find many people with advanced degrees struggling to move up the ranks on the job. 

How is Emotional Intelligence related to my IQ?

In straightforward terms, your IQ is what you know. It is an assessment of your cognitive skills such as literacy, numeracy (yes is a word, I looked it up), and spatial awareness. It is easy to recognize someone with a high IQ by their language, mathematical, and analytical skills.

EI is your ability to manage your emotions and reaction to other people. EI is about how you feel and how others feel about you. It is that soft squishy stuff many IT professionals would prefer to avoid.

Until these wonderfully technically intelligent team members recognize the limiting factors of a low EI, they may never see the need or want to improve.

Part of the challenge with understanding EI is that it is a modern concept. The original theory of emotional intelligence as identified in the early 1990s by two American Psychologists, Peter Solovey and John Mayer defined it as a learned ability to perceive, understand, and express our feelings and to control our emotions so that they work for us.

The concepts were further expanded and popularized by David Golemen1 in his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence. In his best-seller, he writes that Emotional Intelligence:

“refers to the capacity for recognizing our own feeling and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” 

Since then dozens of books, TedTalks, and YouTube videos have been published on the subject of EI. The bottom line is that knowledge of Emotional Intelligence enables you to identify what feels good and what needs to change. Maintaining and developing emotional awareness and sensitivity helps you to stay positive. Positive attitudes result in a much higher level of motivation for yourself and others.

How does Emotional Intelligence impact my career?  

Unless you are in a position of never having to interact with other people, weaknesses in your emotional intelligence can seriously harm your career. It most certainly will hamper your career progression.

Center for Creative Leadership research confirms the most common causes of career derailment are predictable: 

  • Difficulty adapting to change (the most frequent cause of derailment)
  • Difficulty building and leading a team
  • Failure to deliver business results
  • Lacking a broad, strategic orientation
  • Problems with interpersonal relationships

Another study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development showed that as much as 80% of the reason careers are derailed was due to weaknesses in Emotional Intelligence. Their study found that the three primary reasons for career failure were; poor interpersonal skills (e.g. oral and written communication, listening), not being a good team player (e.g. non-collaborative, loner) and not adaptive to change (i.e. at best resists, at worst sabotages change initiatives).

Both studies point back to EI characteristics.

To bring this to life, take a moment to reflect on a manager, leader, or peer who you believe to be successful.  What qualities do they possess that you think helped contribute to their success? Then take a moment to reflect on the managers, leaders, and peers that you have avoided. It should not be hard for you to find the contrasts.

If you have high levels of EI, average intellectual abilities, and excellent technical skills, you are well placed for career success. Good indicators of career success are:

  • Ability to manage your reaction to frustrations
  • Ability to deal with a diverse range of issues
  • Ability to manage your own emotions
  • Ability to manage your social skills.
    NOTE: EI refers to managing your own emotions, not the feelings or behaviors of those around you.

Nearly all jobs require people to work together effectively. Employees with high emotional intelligence are highly sought after. The most effective IT managers are those with high emotional intelligence, despite average or less than average technical skills or intellect.

Can Emotional Intelligence be learned? 

Yes, the good news is that anyone can grow and develop their EQ through learning and practicing. With conscience focus, our EQ will change the more we build understanding of our feelings and emotions. One of the neat things about humans is that working to change our attitudes changes our emotions as well. How we reacted to a situation 3, 5 or 10 years ago will be very different from how we react today. Think about a negative situation in your past, name the emotions felt and the resulting outcome. How would you have felt or reacted if it was happening today? Have the emotions changed?

There are self-improvements tactics you can take to evolve your EQ. The first step is a solid mindset that you need and want to build your EQ. Mindset is part belief and part attitude. A mindset refers to whether you believe qualities such as intelligence and talent are fixed or changeable traits. You either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe their qualities and capabilities are fixed and unchangeable. Those with a growth mindset believe that their capabilities can be developed and strengthened by way of hard work, practice and commitment. I firmly believe that you grow your EQ if you adopt a growth mindset. Changing your mindset takes work. Often, it also takes help from a coach or an event that triggers the possibilities.

Once you know and want to change, an excellent first step is to keep a journal to record and enable you to reflect on your experience. Reflecting and consistently recording raises your self-awareness resulting in improvements to your self-management and productive behaviors.

You should also actively seek unbiased and candid feedback. You could start with a trusted colleague or a close friend. Depending on your relationship, your life partner can also be a great best accountability partner.

Honest and candid feedback will help you to identify and see blind spots that may have been the root cause of your challenges in the past. You can also work with a coach to set goals for improving your Emotional Intelligence and receive ongoing support as you make progress.

In Closing

I knew going into this article that the most I could do was to introduce you to the importance of EI as an IT professional with the hopes of inspiring you to learn more. If I have not inspired you enough, I leave you with a quote from Emotional Intelligence by David Goleman:

“People with well-developed emotional skills are also more likely to be content and effective in their lives, mastering the habits of mind that foster their own productivity; people who cannot marshal some control over their emotional life fight inner battles that sabotage their ability for focused work and clear thought.”

Improving your Emotional Intelligence is a gratifying process. It takes patience and commitment to change. It is a personal investment that will transform your career and quality of life outside of work. I promise.

Until next time – I am here if you want to talk.


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

You are invited! Learn the Three Phases to IT Strategy Development January 29, 2020

You are invited! Learn the Three Phases to IT Strategy Development January 29, 2020

I get it; the Holidays are busy.  The last thing on your mind was reading a business-related email or blog Christmas Eve.  In case you missed it – here it is again:

I am sending follow up to assure you don’t miss an opportunity to join us on January 29 from 1-3 MST, where I will walk registered participants through our IT Strategy Planning template.  At the end of the session, all participants will receive an editable copy of the template.  

To register:  IT Strategy Planning Webinar 

Registration is complimentary and limited.  I hope to see you there! 

Until next week!


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Five Resources (and a bonus) to Inspire 2020

Five Resources (and a bonus) to Inspire 2020

Happy New Year!

After reflecting on last year’s endings, let us move on to build upon new beginnings. My favorite aspect of the New Year is that it allows us to start afresh. With that in mind, I’ve gathered five resources and a bonus report to inspire you in 2020.

1. Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020

Date: October 21, 2019
Source: Gartner
Hyper automation, blockchain, AI security, distributed cloud and autonomous things drive disruption and create opportunities in this year’s strategic technology trends.

2. Top edge computing trends to watch in 2020

Date: Dec 9, 2019
Source: TechTarget
Edge computing is still an evolving technology domain and enterprises should expect continued evolution in the year ahead. Here are the top trends CIOs and IT leaders should be looking out for.

3. Top 10 Tech Predictions For 2020 From IDC

Date: Oct 29, 2019
Source: Forbes
The focus for the 10 predictions for next year and beyond is the rise of the digital economy. By 2023, IDC predicts, over half (52%) of global GDP will be accounted for by digitally transformed enterprises. This digital tipping point heralds the emergence of a new enterprise species, the digital-first enterprise.

4. Spiceworks – The 2020 State of IT

Date: Fall 2019
Source: Spiceworks
IT budgets rise as businesses replace outdated technology: 44% of businesses plan to increase tech spend in 2020, up from 38% in 2019. Many businesses will have the ability to deploy more cutting-edge technologies in the workplace.

5. 11 Trends to Inform Your 2020 Cybersecurity Budget

Date: Oct 15, 2019
Source: Security Intelligence
The global average cost of a data breach is now $3.92 million — a 12 percent increase since 2014. Fortunately, the average cybersecurity budget is also increasing alongside breach cleanup costs. Cybersecurity services are on the rise!

As a Bonus:

And last, but far from least, the Info-Tech 2020 IT Talent Trend Report. The war of talent is very real with unemployment sitting at around 2.4%. With the ever-growing crisis for resources, IT leaders are benefiting from taking a much greater role in the talent acquisition process. My question to you all is – Are you ready? I am here for you if you want to discuss!

As a reminder from my December 24th article and a gift to my readers, I am hosting a complimentary 90-minute webinar on January 29 from 1-3 MST. During out time together, I will walk participants through my IT Strategy Planning Template. All participants will receive and editable copy of the template. Registration is limited. I hope to see you there!

To register: IT Strategy Planning Webinar

Until next week! Happy New Year!



Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

A Gift to Kick Off 2020

A Gift to Kick Off 2020

It is hard to believe that 52 weeks have passed since I last expressed my love of the holiday season. My wish is that everyone will have a fantastic day in whatever way you chose to spend it. We are expecting to spend the holiday with five of our nine grandchildren. We very much wish they all could be here. There is nothing like experiencing the wonders of Christmas through the eyes of children. 

Once Santa has come and gone and the holiday decorations are all put away, we will turn our focus to the New Year! Last March, I gifted my IT Strategy Framework to my readers. I am offering a direct link to a refreshed version again here:  

Most of my consulting practice over the last five years has focused on mid-sized companies. Many times I found IT Strategy was the first gap to address.  I give my IT Strategy e-book as a starting point to CIO’s since I no longer offer strategy planning as a consulting offering.

The framework is relatively simple but thorough. It was built from over 30 years of corporate IT leadership experience. It is most applicable to mid to large-sized corporate enterprises and can be adapted to smaller firms as well. Substantial IT organizations will need to add a risk management framework.

Many readers reached out with feedback and questions as well as request for guidance in executing the strategy framework. As a gift for 2020, I am hosting a 90-minute complimentary webinar on January 29, from 1-2:30 MST, where I will walk registered participants through the IT Strategy Planning Workshop. At the end of the session, all participants will receive an editable copy of the template.

To register:  IT Strategy Planning Webinar 

Registration is limited. I hope to see you there!

While I have you, I want to invite you to check out my weekly ITeffectivity Articles and associated Resources Page on my website. New articles are posted each week on the Webpage and LinkedIn. If you prefer to receive them in an e-mail, you can subscribe here via

The articles are an accumulation of over 30 years of IT leadership experience. They are my opportunity to pay it forward for all that others have so generously given to me. At this giving time of year, I hope you feel inspired to do the same. We all benefit from uplifting our IT community leadership capabilities.

Until Next Year – have a safe and happy week. Happy Holidays!


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Self-Review: A Gift to Oneself

Self-Review: A Gift to Oneself

As I wrap up our annual performance review discussion, I would be remiss if I did not explore the importance of a self-review. Let’s face it, accountability to oneself does not always come naturally. It is too easy to forget to celebrate or ignore your shortcomings. We do ourselves an excellent service if we take the time and effort to reflect on our year. At the risk of sharing my vulnerabilities, I will openly share my 2019 vision and roadmap review as an example in the form of a case study.

If we start with the end in mind, we assume full ownership of our goals for the year. We all have goals of some nature that we hope to accomplish. For me, putting them on paper turned them from deep thoughts to tangible steps that required action.

For the past two years, under the encouragement and guidance of my advisors, I created a vision with a roadmap for achieving my goals. As a consultant versed in helping my clients with their strategy, you would have thought that I had the wherewithal without encouragement. The reality is there are times we all need a coach. I benefited from the guidance of a coach who helped me to see the trees beyond the thick forest.


Along with the vision, I went as far as defining milestone goals and success factors. I call this my “Strategy on a Page.” This is not rocket science, it is merely applying project and strategy disciplines to personal goals.

My Strategy on a Page was printed and posted on my wall beside my monitors. Each day I could not help but see the journey and the commitments I had made. You can trust that I was filled with self-doubt in the first few months of the year. My secret self had a lot to say and it was not all very pretty. As each milestone was checked, my self-talk moved from the negative to positive, and my confidence soared.

The world is imperfect and so am I. As you can see, a couple of key milestones were not met. Assessing the root cause enabled me to determine that the benchmarks were still relevant. Once I confirmed they were still important, I built a plan to address the capabilities and skills needed. What better reason to reflect on the past than to learn from it?

Throughout this process, I was forced to reconsider success factors. For example, my scheduled weekly Let’s Talk articles and posts were fun, but very time-consuming. I believe they played a pinnacle role in building my brand as an IT Leadership and Management thought leader and have resulted in significant growth in social media readers. As my IT leadership coaching​ calendar is filling up fast, I am reconsidering continuing them at the same frequency in 2020. Might there be a better way of contributing value to my peers?

Also, I cannot ignore my continued limitations in asking for help or asking for the sale. As a woman growing up in the early days of IT, I developed a pretty solid habit of having to prove myself. The realization that many other women hold this same habit, drives my passion for helping and advocating for women in IT. With the insights I have gained, I will continue the journey by building my 2020 vision and roadmap with excitement for the new year to begin. It is a small investment in myself that I have confidence will return dividends.

Most importantly, reflecting on my year also helped me to celebrate the beautiful relationships built, the enlightening conversations held, and the fantastic successes of my clients. After all, the people in our lives make it all worth it.

Until next week! I am very excited for next week as I have a gift for you!


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

5 Steps to an Effective Performance Review

5 Steps to an Effective Performance Review

The power of an annual performance review is underrated.  

 In some circles, they are said to do more harm than good, especially if that is the only time you are meeting with an employee to review their performance. Too many times the annual performance review is used to:  

  • Provide advice on areas needing improvement 
  • Justify a raise or bonus 
  • Decide if the employee is ready for a promotion 
  • Justify a future termination  

 That is a whole lot of purpose squeezed into one conversation.   

 As indicated in last weeks article, the annual review is a critical phase of the traditional performance management life cycle. The performance management lifecycle definition encompasses four main stages:  

  •  Goals  
  • Feedback  
  • Review  
  • Reward 

Today we will explore Feedback and Review as they are tightly connected. I contend that without regular feedback conversations, the annual review is ineffective. The challenge is that many IT managers have never been taught how to have a feedback conversation with their employeesTo add to the problem, most IT managers are elevated into manager roles without much, if any, management and IT leadership training at all. This only further propagates the problem.   

A wellintegrated feedback and review process supports holding ongoing performance conversations using goals and development progress to help the discussionI portray it as a cycle because it is compelling to look at performance management as a system.    

An effective performance system requires a coaching approach. A good manager, like a good coach, can see their employees from all sides, subjective and objective. They ask themselves questions regularlyWhat is this person good at?” “What do they care about?” “What do they need to be successful?” “Where do they want to take their career? What is happening outside of the workplace that is impacting their happiness and performance at work? The answers cannot be determined in a vacuum. It requires caring about the individual beyond their performance metrics. The answers to these questions need a conversation.   

When done well, the performance system is quite effective in providing answers to questions all employees seek: “What do I need to do to be successful?, What are my chances of advancement? “Am I doing my job well? Are my efforts appreciated? “ 


An Effective Performance System


  • Periodic Feedback Conversations 

     There is nothing more potent than performance feedback during regularly scheduled conversationsThe cadence will depend on the level and situation of the employee activities. The key is to mutually define the rhythm and then stay true to it. Yes, things happen, but if you are always canceling 1:1’s, what message is that sending the employee? You are sending a message that says – You are not important enough to me.    

The construct of the feedback conversations will benefit from a defined agenda to guide the conversation and help the employee come prepared.  Create an agenda that works for you.  I like a simple agenda:   

  • Accomplishments since we last met 
  • Challenges you are focusing on 
  • Progress against goals
  • What is next on your pipeline of work 
  • What do you need help from me with  

ask that the employee documents the answers to these questions and leaves a copy with me as a foundation for our conversationDuring our feedback conversation, the role of the manager is to provide feedback in the form of affirming or outlining corrective actions. Since these are regular conversations, there should be tweaks 

I recommend using the Start-Stop-Continue retrospective feedback model. A startstopcontinue retrospective is a simple and effective way for individuals (or teams) to reflect on their recent experiences and decide on what things they should change as they move forward. I like to reverse the order as it supports ending the conversation on a positive note.   

Continue: Identifies things that worked in the previous cycle and needs to be part of the individualcore activities 

Stop: Looks back at the last period to identify which things that are not working work and should cease or change 

Start: Activities are those things the employee will begin doing in the next period

This model was initially developed for team performance, but I find it works as effectively with individuals. If you are not familiar with the model, click on the link above or search for it. There are a vast number of articles written about it.

  • Mid-Year Formal Review 
    Mid-year reviews have been introduced into many organizations formal review process. I question their value if you are holding regular periodic feedback conversations but understand if they are a requirement they must be done. At the same time, I can see value in summarizing an employee’s progress towards performance and development goals.  
  • Year-End Formal Review
    Year-end reviews will be much less daunting and more straightforward with periodic conversations. At the same time, there is a need to formalize progress to plan. My recommendations for you are:      

 1. Take the time to prepare

 Performance reviews directly impact your employeecareer prospects, morale, and often their identity.  Best practice indicates spending at least three (ideally five) hours per employee preparing for performance review conversations every six months.

2. Seek Peer feedback while keeping it in perspective

 Peer feedback is essential, for sure. The reality is that there will be times when your employees will not be able to give someone what they wanted. Seek input while keeping it in perspective against the overall performance.   

 3. Provide substantive and constructive feedback

 Every employee is hungry for substantive and constructive feedback. Substantive in that, the feedback is meaningful. Constructive meaning, the actions can be executed against the input given. Nothing is more frustrating to an employee than to receive feedback that does not tie back to prior actions or that they cannot perform going forward. For great constructive feedback examples please refer to the following link

4. Hold a conversation, don’t just talk at them

 A conversation is twoway dialogue. Too often, managers rush through the review meeting by telling the employee what they think or what they should do without leaving space for the conversation. Yes, managers want to appear in control, but they sometimes lack confidence about showing that they may not have all the answers. A useful performance conversation is a mutual commitment to growth and learning which requires two-way communication.

5. Include a follow-up plan
The follow-up plan is an excellent opportunity to wrap the annual review into periodic feedback discussions. A follow-up plan will ensure that development topics stay top of mind and that progress will be made.

Bottom Line 

The bottom line is, if you cannot find the time to focus on all your direct reports career development throughout the year, you either have too many direct reports, or you are not making your reports a priority.  

 Find the time; it will pay off 

 Until next week!  


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry.