I’m glad you found some one to love you.
But sad to say that some one is you
ABC – “Vanity Kills”
IT doesn’t get a lot of love. When everything works, we are like oxygen or electricity, taken for granted. When something breaks, it’s our fault.
(Famously, my help desk at one point received a ticket that the coffee maker was broken. The coffee maker was supplied “for free” by the supplier of the coffee. Upon follow-up, the exceedingly rational explanation was that “if it plugs in, it is IT’s responsibility.” It is hard to argue with logic like that. We placed a ticket of our own to the coffee supplier and got the problem resolved with a new machine.)
At the half-way point in the year, this is a good time to make changes if you don’t think you and your IT team are going to be appreciated at the end of the year. Get out there and find some love if it is not finding you!
How do you do that? Publish what IT is going to do. Do it. Publish the results. Wash, rinse, repeat.
It seems straightforward-enough. Explain what you are going to do and then do it. But, it is surprising how rarely an IT organization actually does this. Big projects are likely an exception, but it is rare that the myriad day-to-day IT tasks ever get discussed, let alone acknowledged or rewarded.
Here are some ideas on how you can highlight the value IT is providing without being too too obvious:
Volunteer to present at a Town Hall meeting or call
If your company already has Town Hall meetings or calls where good portions of the company are present to hear company-wide messages, volunteer to present a situation where you partnered with your non-IT brethren to deliver something valuable. If your company does not already do Town Hall meetings or calls, consider working with your HR team to start one and be part of the inaugural presentations!
Publish an IT newsletter
It may sound like a lot of work, but the effort to put together a quarterly newsletter on IT is actually fairly small. If you were to have a main article, a secondary article, a client highlight, and a profile of one of your IT team, you will find that you have two printed pages of content. If you choose to go “old school” and send out a two-page PDF, that is fine, but pulling this into a formatted email is just as good. The point is to communicate, not to worry about how you communicate.
Post your metrics and results where everyone can see them
I expect you manage your team against a set of metrics. Your metrics could include client deployments, transactions processed, application builds, quality measures, wait time, and so on, but whatever you use, post them where people can see them and measure you. Is this scary? I hope not. If it is, then you should probably set this post aside and come back to it when you have better news to communicate. If you are comfortable sharing your metrics, they are a great way to help you tell your “IT as a value-creator” story.
Walk the halls. Although much less formal than the ideas above, simply being visible to your internal customers can help them appreciate you. There is some amount of “noise” around IT that is not worth reporting but that is valuable to fix. Being visible allows people to ask questions of you and to get answers without feeling like they have made a big fuss.
Get a testimonial
Having someone else do your talking for you can be effective in getting the word out that IT is valuable and doing a good job. If you went ahead and published a newsletter, consider getting a good quotation from one of you internal or external customers. If you went the Town Hall route, consider co-presenting with a non-IT person.
Make a video
This one may be a little “out there” for less tech-enabled businesses, but with an iPhone and iMovie you can do things you could not have done with a dedicated video setup just a few years ago. Make a video of whatever highlights the value IT is bringing. It could be as simple as customers using your product or giving testimonials. It could be playful and fun. It could be highlights from a presentation. The point is to separate the message from the timing of the delivery of the message to let people consume information about your team when they want to do so.
Throw a party and invite your non-IT team
It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but if you get the IT team together after work for an hour or two, invite the non-IT people too. At the risk of not getting each other’s’ jokes, if you know each other better as people, you’ll each appreciate what the other does.
The only person who love you does not need to be you. Seize the initiative!