Managing IT Workers, Logic and “Do I Have Too?”
This blog is partly about managing IT workers, and it’s also applicable to
anyone who wants to manage more strategically. I’m writing it after
sitting in project review meetings for the past two days. I wish I could
stand up while I’m typing this, but then my back would talk to me as I
stooped over. Enough whining, here goes.
Years ago Jim McCarthy surfaced the issue of respect in managing IT
workers in a back-handed way, with the book Don’t Flip the Bozo Bit.
He was driving hard at a dysfunctional way of handling disrespect. The
basic message, being don’t be so quick to disrespect someone, you may
need them next week.
Jeff Elio in his current article in CIO magazine, The Unspoken Truth About
Managing Geeks, underscores the importance of respect, and how that it
is predicated on the: 1. perceived use of logical consistency by others, or
lack thereof, 2. being right when making decisions, and 3. being competent.
It’s a great article, clarifying how much you lose if you don’t manage
your IT team or staff in a way that is logical and engenders respect. I’ve
grabbed one key executive just this week, and had him go back and
renegotiate deliverable deadlines that were unreasonable with his IT group,
because they weren’t logical given the tasks outstanding and he was losing
his group’s buy-in on the project as a result.
Here’s what I didn’t read in either source, and I think is just as fundamental.
Managing IT workers need the respect of logic and competence
balanced with holding them accountable to best practices.
Actually I tend to hear the second phase bounced back to me something
like this, “Do I have too?” This especially comes up around the topic of
documentation. I did a project for Nokia years ago. They had a very
simple solution for the IT folks we had on the team from 14 different
countries. They simply didn’t pay if the work wasn’t documented.
We all struggle with the “not-fun” “do I have too” aspects of work.
I just find that IT workers struggle with it a bit more. Maybe you
find it to be different – let me know.
You’ll get the best results managing IT workers if you balance logical
consistency, realism and competency with holding people accountable
to best practices… on an ongoing basis.