Leadership shows up in every department within every organizations. Every department managers, supervisor, director, VP or above has the responsibility to know what they are doing and to communicate their vision to their teams.
Part of this responsibility has to do with working ON their business while working IN their business.
When any department leader takes a step back to see how their leadership impacts their own department, they can then take a further step back and witness how their department impacts other departments and also how they impact the entire organization. This is key to working IN their business.
This provides a vantage point for observation, reflection, diagnosis, and planning.
I have been blessed to see much in the area of leadership development first hand in the area of information technology (IT) leadership. Because IT is a life blood to every organization today in our connected world, I want to help you understand how IT leadership really impacts the entire business system. This can help everyone take a deeper look at a systematic infrastructure that is a primary source of organizational vitality today and into the future.
Taking a Deep Dive
IT managers quickly find out that without a true alignment and partnership with the businesses they support times can get tough very quickly. While the businesses may or may not directly fund IT’s activities, if they aren’t happy with the IT service they are getting, then nothing good tends to come of it. Unhappy IT customers will do anything to get satisfaction; from creating their own informal IT organization to bullying IT into doing what the business perceives they should be doing.
To help everyone understand how to play nice in the sandbox with such an important business resource, I have some tips to make sure that people, departments, and organizations align their best intentions to have IT be a positive force in the workplace.
Good Tips for IT
IT Leaders must spend time with the business leaders
Setup a face to face meeting at least one a month to talk about the good, bad and ugly. IT should have metrics so bring them and see if they address any issues. More times that not when the relationship is non-existent or strained IT isn’t measuring what the business cares about, so here is your chance to get that feedback and make some changes.
Think like a business
Since most IT shops are short staffed and overwhelmed by all the requests coming at them start with a good ROI/Project funding process. A good ROI process will help ensure that you are placing your precious resources on the most worthwhile business solutions that will give the biggest payback to the company. In an ideal world this means that you have an executive champion for each project that understands, and signs off on, the IT costs as part of their projects. Organizations fail when they try and open this process up to every request and try to prioritize a request from rank and file along with an executive request. I have seen lots of IT organization spin their wheels with rank and file requests while missing the bigger picture.
After the leaders have established a partnership start communicating across the company in perhaps a regular newsletter or blog. As companies rely and use technology more and more, IT is an important part of everyone’s job. Tell employees what is changing, coming up, where to go for help and ask for feedback. Have success stories then have the business owner tell them and communicate them.
Implement a job rotation program where IT and business employees switch roles for a period of time. This will give valuable insight into both teams as to the challenges each face.
Stop saying “No”
I see this is so many IT organizations, they say “no” to the business before they even understand the request. Typically, this is done in the name of security or cost savings. However, many users are pretty savvy so restricting behavior only creates barriers between IT and the business. Work to try and understand the needs that exist and how to meet those needs safely.
If you are in IT leadership, have you tried any of these strategies? If so, did it work? If you are not in IT, do you wish your IT organization would try some of these ideas? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Scott Archibald is Managing Director at Bender Consulting
He helps clients through IT transformations by a results-focused approach
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: scott.d.archibald | (702) 358-0545
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