Get smart: Exploring the emotional intelligence of the technology worker

Before you begin your next SAP implementation, Eugene Kaluzniacky wants you to get in touch with your feelings.

Kaluzniacky, an instructor in the department of Applied Computer science at the University of Winnipeg, believes the use of psychological testing and refined training programs can

shave some of the time IT projects take because those involved are better able to work together. It’s a thesis explored in his book, Managing Psychological Factors in Information Systems Work: An Orientation to Emotional Intelligence, which will be published soon.

“”It’s like switching channels on a TV,”” he says. “”Depending on what we’re doing, is the intellect in control? Are the feelings in control? Or is the body and sensations in control? What I’m proposing is the possibility of opening up oneself to a deeper layer of the person.””

Kaluzniacky recently spoke with Computing Canada about how IT managers can tap into their emotional intelligence.

Computing Canada: In your book you discuss the need to involve the “”whole person”” when dealing with IT problems. What do you mean by that?

Eugene Kaluzniacky: It talks about the fact that we don’t necessarily think that using the intellect alone can provide all the necessary resources an IT professional would need in the course of his or her work. In other words, there have been IT people calling for that — Kent Beck, who is one of the founders of Extreme Programming, has said we have to learn to grow the whole person, for example. Joseph Weisenbaum, a computer scientist at MIT from the ’70s who wrote a book called Computer Power and Human Reason also talked about the whole person. There are intuition, there is wisdom, there are those kind of things that do not come strictly from a machine-like intellect, where the IT professional can use those things to fine-tune relationships with end users, with working on a team.

CC: Why do you think we haven’t tapped into those deeper layers until now?

EK: Well, I think it’s not just in IT, it’s in Western society. Since the Industrial Revolution over a hundred years ago, it seemed to go more towards control and the intellect. In other words, we could figure out industrial things with the intellect, we could control things, and that provided security.

Now this technology has gotten out hand — it’s proliferated itself so much that it’s given rise to a lot of uncertainty, rapid change, insecurity in terms of knowledge because knowledge becomes obsolete very quickly, particularly in the IT profession.

In IT that’s specifically acute because of the rapid changes, both in methodology and in technology and approach. If you took a medical doctor and told him 80 per cent of what he learned in medical school is obsolete, how would this person react? Where would they get their security? This is what’s happening in IT, yet there are continuous calls for IT having to develop soft skills, having to work on a team, to manage stress.

CC: How do you begin this process of orienting towards emotional intelligence?

EK: There’s something called PRH, which is in my book’s fourth chapter, which originated in France in the early 1970s and is now in 32 countries. There’s also a very famous one called the Hoffman Quadrinity program offered by the Hoffman Institute that was started in California in the late ’60s. That involves people looking at their whole life and seeing where there may have been emotional blockages. Particularly the talented, the sensitive people, a lot of them may have blockages from their deepest selves.

These programs show you steps on how to unblock this type of thing. It’s not a matter of intellect. It’s a matter of inner experience and feeling. I do describe other psychological factors, such as personality type. Myers-Briggs (a test which describes personality types) for example, is useful on another level because people with different preferences either for intuition or for thinking, feeling, structure, for open-endedness — they have different ways of attacking IT problems.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Shane Schick
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