Are IT Managers Avoiding Doing What They Should Be Doing?

Sure we know what we should be doing, but are we really doing it?
Sure we know what we should be doing, but are we really doing it?
Image Credit: Peter

I’m pretty sure that we can all agree that we don’t know everything. However, if we had the chance to learn some new information, would we jump at the opportunity? Somewhat surprisingly, the answer is often “no”. IT managers can have a nasty habit of not wanting to learn something that they think is going to be bad news. What’s going on here?

Information Avoidance

Have you ever hurt a part of your body? You know what I’m talking about, a leg, an arm, your neck all of sudden starts to hurt you when you twist or move in some particular way. What do you do about it? You know that the right thing to do is to go see a doctor and get it checked out. However, how often do we do that? More often than not we just live with it and we try to not do things that are going to make it hurt. The reason that we don’t go to the doctor is because we don’t want to hear that we’ve broken, sprained, pulled whatever it is that is troubling us.

Guess what? This kind of behavior has a name. The smart people who study our behavior call what we are doing in this situation “information avoidance” or “strategic ignorance”. What’s more, they know why we’re doing this. We will actively avoid using our IT manager skills to find something out in order to avoid feeling bad based on what we’ve learned. Additionally, we’ll avoid learning something if learning it would obligate us to do something that we really don’t want to do. Likewise, we don’t want to learn new things that will somehow challenge how we see ourselves, see others, or see our world.

If you step back for just a minute and think about yourself, how do you want to view yourself? If you are like most of us, your IT manager training has given you a pretty good view of yourself. The way that we want to view ourselves is as being people who are both smart and healthy. We like to believe that we have the ability to make good decisions. This is why we resist learning any information that might cause us to have to challenge those beliefs.

How We Can Cut Through Our Information Resistance?

If we can all admit that we have a problem here, then perhaps we can start to look for a way to go about fixing it. The very first step in this process is for us to sit down and spend some time trying to think about what we really find important in our lives. What we need to do then is to write it down. What researchers have discovered is that the process of writing down what is important to us allows us to get the information that we need. This makes the news appear to be rather small in the face of what’s really important to you.

Next, you need to take the time to remind yourself that you do have some control over what is happening. A lot of the time that we avoid getting new information is because we fear that it’s going to tell us about something that we have no control over. Something else to keep in mind is that if you find something out early on, you will have even more control over how you choose to react to it.

The good news is that if there are other areas of your life that you feel that you have some control over, it’s going to help you out. Just realizing that there are parts of your life that you have under control will give you the strength to acquire the information that you are not looking forward to having. The control that you have will make this new information appear to be less overwhelming to you.

What All Of This Means For You

In this hyper-connected 21st Century in which we are all living, information is the key to how an IT manager goes about doing his or her job. Despite how easy it is to get just about any type of information these days, if we decide that we don’t want to find out about something, we may find ourselves actively taking steps to not collect needed information.

The people who research such things have giving this type of behavior a name: situation “information avoidance” or “strategic ignorance”. We avoid learning things because it will make us feel bad or because we’ll have to do something about it. We can overcome this if we think about what is really important to us. This makes anything else seem smaller and we’ll be able to handle it better. We also need to remember that we do have control over some things and so we can have control over whatever we learn.

Avoiding learning new things is never a good idea. We’ll always eventually end up discovering new information and doesn’t it seem as though it would be better to learn it earlier than later? If we can understand that we may be avoiding learning something that we don’t want to know and then go about accepting this new information we’re going to have more options because we learned about it as early as possible.

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

Question For You: Do you think that you could task somebody else to learn about something so that you would not have to deal with it?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Quick question for you: what’s more important in your life right now – your job or your home life? You have to pick one. Your gut probably tells you to pick “home life”, but if we took a look at where you’ve been spending your time, would that support that pick? If you are like a lot of IT managers when things get busy at work, you end up spending a great deal of your time in the office. When this happens something has to give, and more often than not what gives is your home life. How big of a problem is this?