Saturday, June 4, 2011

I'm an IT Manager... nobody loves me!

LinkedIn is great! It gives you so much insight into how people think, ever more so in the realm of their profession. I've recently come across a group thread describing the woes of IT Managers: they feel unappreciated. They feel they're pulling dozens of rabbits out of hats every day with no recognition, yet at the slightest mistake everyone's at their throats. They feel that being the know-it-all, solve-it-all, infallible gurus has somehow been put in the small print of their contracts and is casually expected of them.

Feeling unappreciated is a common complaint by all sorts of employees, but admittedly IT is special in one respect: people understand it less than any other discipline. "Don't give me that IT gibberish, mumbo-jumbo hodgepodge of an excuse, just get it done." Yes, IT guys get that a lot. And quite rightly so, if you ask me! Why would anyone presume that something they don't understand is complicated even for the very people hired to deal with it?

In ancient Rome, Gaius Julius Caesar said: "Caesar's wife doesn’t just need to BE honest; she has to LOOK honest." Think about this for a while. Now, either this guy was 2000 years ahead of his time, or we've just set about re-discovering the wheel. One word: MARKETING.

Marketing is a skill that everyone should possess and practice as a matter of course in their lives, even more so in the professional realm. Since ancient times, marketing what you do was of as great importance as actually doing it. IT Managers need to take the time to communicate to their colleagues, and most importantly to stakeholders, what they do, why they do it, how they do it and why it's to their best interest to know all this.

Why you say, Mr. and Ms. Colleague? Because we build and support all the fundamental little things (i.e. the infrastructure) you're using to make your monthly paycheck, it's that simple. I'm not saying that our work is more important than yours (this is a different discussion altogether), I'm just stating the obvious: everyone should be interested in everything that affects their work. And the more something affects it, the more they should want to learn about it.

So, as IT Managers, it's on us to find ways to communicate what we do to our colleagues. We need to dress it up, package it in colourful wrapping laced with ribbons and present it in such ways that it makes it interesting and even irresistible. We need to change our frame of mind and think about ourselves as salesmen and users as clients. An IT Manager must be equally versed at managing both technology and people; To understand and manage the business side of IT, set expectations, 'sell' projects, build personal relationships, cultivate satisfaction. And infuse their teams with this mindset.

There are so many approaches to choose from! Everyone tends to cling to what they know and resist change. Mingle with your coworkers, chat in the hallways, strike conversations during the lunch break. Be enthusiastic! Speak about your projects and what's in it for them. Talk about the new mail system and how intuitive it is. Say how once they've learnt how to use it they will save so much time, their productivity will skyrocket and how good this will make them look in the eyes of their boss. Market yours and your team's work, increase your visibility and generate the appreciation you feel is due to you.

The monolithic days of IT, where people worked in cubicles staring on screens all day, are gone. Today's companies, corporations and markets are all about people and relationships and IT Managers should follow the trend. Just be sure you and your team are actually producing the kind of quality work you would like to receive recognition for.


the IT Guy


  1. My world as it is now, the world of flexible co-working spaces, web freelancers, hosting platforms and dynamic solutions, couldn't be more different from the corporate network I "enjoyed" for all those years. The freedom is liberating and it's refreshing to be able to discuss a clients requirement in the morning, search for a solution and implement it by close of play the same day (in some cases).

    It can have it's moments though and when you find yourself at the cutting edge of the latest technology (which happens a lot more) it certainly pushes the grey matter into action.

    But, appreciated? Yes, much more, mainly because you're no longer fighting against policy and can actually deliver something quickly, which is not only welcome, it's needed. If the "free" world had to adhere to the same restrictions as the Enterprise I doubt we'd even have an internet.

    Don't get me wrong, as an ITIL guy I fully understand the need for policy across a corporate platform, I'm just happy I don't have to enforce it anymore. Being dynamic has its moments but it's a lot more fun :-)

  2. Working as a freelancer sure has more advantages than not, provided you have a healthy and sustainable client base. Thinking back to my own freelancing days, the beauty of freedom was freequently besmirched by the mundane tasks: writting up offers, negotiating, re-negotiating and re-re-negotiating prices, accounting and the lot...

    Despite the above, marketing and self-promotion surely are a big part of freelancing, where every new project depends on a previous happy customer.

    Do you think that appreciation in a corporate environment can be at all influenced and regulated? Is it a lost cause? Or perhaps not worth the effort?

  3. Yes, I can see how that would spoil things, however I use shared 'co-working' space in Leeds city centre, which is simply wonderful and has pulled work without me having to even leave the building, for me it's without a doubt the way forward and delivers multiple benefits (aside from the free coffee). I honestly can't recommend it enough.

    In a corporate environment though I would say yes, appreciation can always be boosted and personality + drive can carry you, it obviously depends on the organisation as to just how far and we've both experienced negatives in previous roles resulting from blinkered management vision, however I also witnessed (and benefitted) from having a professional 'people person' heading up the department and looking after us, who knows what would have happened to us if 'she' hadn't been in charge.


Total Pageviews


Search This Blog

Popular Posts