Network Engineering, Architecture, Operations and Sales
Determining where you belong…
If you have an affinity for internetworking technologies and want to further your career, hopefully this blog can help you determine where to go. We will first take a quick look at the necessary personality traits and skills needed for each major area of technology and then determine how you can classify yourself to understand where you may most likely find success. In short, this is an attempt to help individuals determine where they belong.
The good news is that almost every personality type can be successful in some capacity the field of information technology. All you really need is an interest in technology.
Summary of Architecture, Engineering and Operations
Let’s begin with a recap and brief summary of the three major areas in most Enterprise organizations. I have blogged about these three areas in previous blogs if you would like more information.
Network Architecture: Generally seen as the standards setting body. Network Architecture receives feedback from operations to determine what the state of the current system is and what areas need to be addressed as a priority. They also receive feedback from Engineering as to the ease of application of the standards.
Network Engineering: Generally viewed as the delivery body. Engineers consume standards set by Architecture and determine how best to apply the standards based on customer requirements. Engineering receives feedback from Operations as to the effectiveness and support-ability of their deployments. They also receive guidance from Architecture as to the application of standards.
Network Operations: The core of the networking team. They receive equipment implemented by Engineering and ensure its continued functionality and upkeep. Ongoing monitoring of the network health and respond to incident and outage situations. They provide Architecture with necessary metrics and network health statistics.
All three areas require distinct skill sets that can set one apart from your peers. What are these skills and how can you determine which ones you posses and which ones you do not. The secret is in understanding the psychology behind what motivates individuals and applying that to your career path.
We will find out how three of the four major personality types map directly to the skills necessary to excel at the three major areas of infrastructure technology specialization. We will then identify how the secondary personality combinations can help an individual to excel at a given specialization.
DISC profiling and individual personalities
Let’s start by examining personality traits. I really like the DISC profile which is ” a quadrant behavioral model based on the work of Dr. William Moulton Marston (1893–1947) to examine the behavior of individuals in their environment or within a specific situation (otherwise known as environment). It therefore focuses on the styles and preferences of such behavior.”
“The assessments classify four aspects of behavior by testing a person’s preferences in word associations (compare with Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). DISC is an acronym for:
- Dominance – relating to control, power and assertiveness
- Influence – relating to social situations and communication
- Steadiness (submission in Marston’s time) – relating to patience, persistence, and thoughtfulness
- Conscientiousness (or caution, compliance in Marston’s time) – relating to structure and organization
These four dimensions can be grouped in a grid with “D” and “I” sharing the top row and representing extroverted aspects of the personality, and “C” and “S” below representing introverted aspects. “D” and “C” then share the left column and represent task-focused aspects, and “I” and “S” share the right column and represent social aspects. In this matrix, the vertical dimension represents a factor of “Assertive” or “Passive”, while the horizontal dimension represents “Open” vs. “Guarded”.
- Dominance: People who score high in the intensity of the “D” styles factor are very active in dealing with problems and challenges, while low “D” scores are people who want to do more research before committing to a decision. High “D” people are described as demanding, forceful, egocentric, strong willed, driving, determined, ambitious, aggressive, and pioneering. Low D scores describe those who are conservative, low keyed, cooperative, calculating, undemanding, cautious, mild, agreeable, modest and peaceful.
- Influence: People with high “I” scores influence others through talking and activity and tend to be emotional. They are described as convincing, magnetic, political, enthusiastic, persuasive, warm, demonstrative, trusting, and optimistic. Those with low “I” scores influence more by data and facts, and not with feelings. They are described as reflective, factual, calculating, skeptical, logical, suspicious, matter of fact, pessimistic, and critical.
- Steadiness: People with high “S” styles scores want a steady pace, security, and do not like sudden change. High “S” individuals are calm, relaxed, patient, possessive, predictable, deliberate, stable, consistent, and tend to be unemotional and poker faced. Low “S” intensity scores are those who like change and variety. People with low “S” scores are described as restless, demonstrative, impatient, eager, or even impulsive.
- Conscientiousness: People with high “C” styles adhere to rules, regulations, and structure. They like to do quality work and do it right the first time. High “C” people are careful, cautious, exacting, neat, systematic, diplomatic, accurate, and tactful. Those with low “C” scores challenge the rules and want independence and are described as self-willed, stubborn, opinionated, unsystematic, arbitrary, and unconcerned with details.”
More great explanation about the DISC profile can be found here:
DISC profile illustrated:
Understanding how different personalities react
What of specific interest to me is how these major personality traits map to the different silos. It’s also extremely interesting to see how certain personalities react when put into the wrong job role. For example, I am a D-C-S-I. This means I am very direct, decisive and competitive. I am quick to speak up but I will often overstep authority and challenge the status quo. My secondary personalty trait drives me to to be accurate thus I want to understand the facts before proceeding. I am not interested in opinion, politics or emotions. I make every effort to understand the big picture and to figure out how individual components can be best placed in a system.
Thus, individuals who share my personality are often seen as the ‘go to’ people. I am often described by my co-workers as energetic and fast paced. We are seen egotistical and a strong willed know-it-all. We excel in situations where we have been given authority to take take quick and decisive action. However, when placed in situations where we are forced to follow direction and where speaking up is generally frowned upon, a D will become very agitated quickly and will burst out with quick spouts of anger. Also, when placed in situations that require significant interaction with others, such as sales roles, Ds are often seen as too short and often are considered rude.
On the other end of the spectrum are the people oriented individuals. For example I-S or S-I personalities are not likely to find their way into a technology role. These individuals desire human interaction and thrive in sales or other people oriented roles. It has been my experience that nearly all individuals in technology possess C as either their primary or secondary trait.
C first personality traits generally obsess over details and can often find themselves victim of paralysis by analysis. However, they certainly excel at dealing with situations that require extreme care and planning. C-S or S-C personalities are generally very uncomfortable when placed in a position of authority, especially when crisis management is important. If you ever have had a manager who just had a total meltdown and went to “hide in their shell” was most likely some combination of C/S personality type. S personalities in specific can suffer from a ‘head in the sand’ approach and feel if they ignore or let something go that it will hopefully just disappear.
Mapping personalities to roles and specializations
When we examine the skills generally seen as necessary to the individual areas of technology we can see how some personalities are a natural fit for different roles. If we may some of the keywords used to describe the personality types we can see how these traits can be utilized in each role. For example, and please note that I am not a psychology major but this is just a matter of my opinion and observation:
Architect <-> Drive
- 10% of people are D first.
- Individuals who excel at understanding the big picture and taking charge are D personalities.
- Fun fact: D-C personalities rare combination, roughly 1 in 60 people are D-Cs.
- D personalities are often seen as overbearing and often require equally strong willed managers.
- S-D personalities are often best suited for managing them.
Engineer <-> Compliance
- 10-15% of people are C first.
- Persons who excel at building well thought out implementations are those that have considered all possible angles and are willing to follow rules such as C-S and S-C personalities.
- A variety of management styles can be effective with such personalities but S-D personalities have a good balance of personal attention but are results driven and will move project forward.
Operations <-> Steadiness
- 65-70% of people are S first. (And thank goodness – they are the easiest to get along with!)
- Those who excel at ensuring consistent steady state operations are those who are steady but analytically thinkers themselves such as S-C and C-S personalities.
- Interesting stat: S-C personalities are by far the most common personality type, 1 in 3 people are S-C.
- In customer and user facing roles such as help desk C-I as well as S-C and personalities are generally well suited to deal with working people.
- D personalities excel at crisis management, a strong trait for operations leaders and management.
I will also add one additional area of technology that we have not previously discussed:
Technical Sales <-> Influence
- 10% of people are I first.
- Being able to identify with and influence customers is a trait that I personalities excel at.
- Specifically in technical sales areas I-C personalities are very strong and C-I personalities will generally do very well.
- I-C personalities should be cognizant not to talk themselves out of a sale.
- C-I personalities should take care not to drown the client in too many details.
- D-I and I-D personalities make the strongest sales individuals but often lake the desire to understand technical details.
- Funer fact: D-I personalities are also the most rare personality, roughly 1 in 90 people are D-I personalities.
D – Results Oriented
I – People Oriented
S – Family Oriented
C – Detail Oriented
In a Corporate setting:
D – Comes up with the idea
I – Sells it
S – Does the work
C – Checks it for accuracy
Keep in mind that the C trait is generally found in almost every technologist but certainly not all. The most common exception seems to be S-D or D-S personalities. This is also not to say that an S-C or S-D will always be happiest in an operations role but it is easy to see how the personalities could parallel with the given ideals of each role. What I do believe is if you understand your personality you can better understand what role will suit you best.
It may be well worth the effort to perform a personal DISC profile test on yourself. Unfortunately I could not find any simple free DISC profile tests online to link. I did find this very informative PDF detailing the benefits of understanding and using the DISC profile. Included in the PDF are disc profiling resources if you so decide to use them:
In a future blog I will discuss certifications and career paths that can help you either begin or further your career in the different areas discussed in this blog.