by Paul Rudo on 12/06/12 at 6:33 pm
People skills are incredibly important for a successful career as a CIO or IT manager. And those of us who strictly focus on the technical aspects of our jobs can expect to see our careers cut short or outsourced.
Since IT is often considered to be a cost-center, it is vulnerable to attack from other areas of the company. And it won’t matter whether these attacks are justified or not. In the end, all that matters is the stakeholder perception of whether these attacks are justified.
That’s why it’s absolutely important that IT leaders become proactive within their organization. They need to identify the key people who influence their careers, and maintain constant and open face-to-face dialogue with these individuals.
It’s important to establish these relationships early on and keep nurturing them over time. This will help you clearly define desired outcomes, create action plans, and justify funding for projects.
During these discussions, your goal should be to identify and maintain constant visibility into 3 ways that these key people perceive the services of the IT department.
What concerns do these people have with the quality of their IT services?
The goal of this question is to highlight immediate areas of improvement that can be addressed for quick results.
Often, you may be surprised that some of the biggest complaints may be resulting from a knowledge gap that can quickly be fixed with the right information. Other times, you might find out that the expectations placed on you were completely different from what you had originally thought.
How would they describe the role and responsibilities of the IT function within the company?
This question will help you gain insight into ways that you can improve interpersonal and communication skills for the IT department, while also establishing best-practices.
How can the IT department be of better service in the future?
This question will help you establish long-term objectives in working with these external stakeholders. This question will also help you gain insight into what your client views as the most vital performance criteria by which the role of IT will be judged.
It’s important to note that these are not static criteria. The answers to these questions will change over time. And because of this, you need to maintain constant and open communications in order to manage expectations and ensure that IT efforts are properly aligned with their objectives.
In addition to ensuring that IT efforts are properly aligned with these requirements, you must also maintain constant communications so that others will understand and appreciate the contributions of IT. All the ways in which IT efforts help reduce costs, improve sales, increase productivity and support strategy should be made very clear to all key stakeholders.
By consistently taking a proactive and people-oriented approach to IT management, your long-term career success will be ensured since other departments will understand why you are indispensable, and the efforts of IT will be better-aligned with corporate strategy.