How IT Leaders Can Use Humor To Become Better Managers

by drjim on December 18, 2014

It turns out that humor helps you to become a better manager

It turns out that humor helps you to become a better manager
Image Credit: Karen Lee Colangelo

As IT managers we are always looking for ways to develop the IT manager skills that will allow us to become better. We’ll take classes, read book, and consult with peers. Our ultimate goal is to discover the IT manager training that will allow us to do a better job of connecting with the members of our team. If we can figure out how best to do this, then we just might stand a chance of being able to turn our team into a high performance team. Now just exactly how should we go about doing this?

What The Studies Show

The scientists who study how managers interact with their teams have been busy. What they’ve been doing recently is using stories to show how a new manager might be presented to a team. They did it in three different ways and one of the ways was clearly more effective than the others.

In their study, the new manager was presented to the study participants in exactly the same way. The only thing that they changed in each of the presentations was the punch line – the last thing that was said as a part of the introduction.

The three different types of humor that the scientists used were group-depreciating, aggressive, and self-depreciating. What the scientists discovered was that self-deprecating humor was the most effective of the three different types.

Why Humor Is So Powerful

What was discovered was that managers who use self-depreciating humor ended up ranking the highest in transformational leadership characteristics. These characteristics were defined as consisting of motivational qualities such as trust. likability, intellectual stimulation , and individualized consideration.

The reason that self-depreciating humor can help a manager do a better job of managing is because it enhances how your team perceives your leadership abilities. It accomplishes this by minimizing the status distinctions that exists between managers and their teams.

Let’s face it, none of us is perfect. If we can use self-depreciating humor to admit it when we are wrong, then this will help us to be a better manager. Our team will see this as us admitting that we are human and it will go a long way in helping us to build a better relationship with our team.

What All Of This Means For You

Connecting with the members of our team is what all IT managers should always be searching for a way to do. The better that we are able to connect with them, the higher the productivity of our teams will be. What’s been missing so far is has been any guidance as to just exactly what kind of IT team building we can use to connect with our team.

The folks who do research into how people interact have discovered that a manager’s use of humor can help to bridge the divide between them and their workers. You need to be careful here because not all humor is created equal. When group-depreciating, aggressive, and self-depreciating humor was studied, only self-depreciating humor was found to be effective at motivating teams.

We need to take this new understanding of what types of humor can cause our teams to respond better to us and use it while managing our teams. Carefully start to work some self-depreciating humor into your interactions with your team. You just might be amazed how much this helps you to connect with your team!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that it’s possible to use too much self-depreciating humor?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I think that we can all agree that there are certain IT manager skills and traits that the really good managers have. As IT managers, we’d like to discover what these traits are (is there any IT manager training for this?) and then find ways to incorporate them into our own management style. It turns out that some really smart people have been studying the people who do a good job of managing teams and what they’ve discovered is that we all need to become just a bit more feminine.

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