Saturday, June 4, 2011
10:25 PM | Posted by Andreas Panagopoulos | |
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
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