On any given year, my friend Scott would deliver 7 times as many projects as other Business Systems Manager (BSMs) , and 20 times the business value of other BSM’s.
How did he do this? And more so, how did he do this when most people are frustrated by the service and attitude they receive from corporate IT departments?
We all have experienced frustrations with IT. They say things like:
“I can’t commit to that timeframe and budget”
“No.” And they never even listened to your request.
“It’s taking longer than expected, and we won’t meet your deadline”
“You never said that is what you really wanted. We did what you asked for.”
So why do some people get fantastic service and amazing results from their IT department? It’s about relationship. Let’s look at my friend Scott.
In his role as a Business Systems Manager (BSMs), Scott had to make promises to various internal clients, but didn’t control the resources necessary to deliver those promises. In addition, he didn’t have his own “team”, but had to share the pool of IT resources with other BSMs. So what did he do that set him apart?
Scott got to know the people. Getting great service is about relationships.
What kind of relationships have you built with with the tech staff?
Do you ask about their kids, or know who their dating, or what they do on the weekends? Do you know what their career aspirations are?
Do you know what sucks about their job?
Have you ever said “Thank you!” when they come through for you (even better, say “Thank You!” in front of their boss)? (Best of all, saying Thanks! with a big box of donuts for them to share with their co-workers!)
Now this might sound like sucking up.. but let’s talk about why it’s not sucking up.
You’re connecting at a personal level. Taking the first steps towards a relationship is rarely brushed off, especially among the introverts among us.
A real and genuine relationship takes time to create.
Your success depends upon them. Their success depends on you.
Building good relationships with IT will generate HUGE rewards.
And with so many people in IT, who should you get to know?
Scott didn’t focus most of his efforts on IT Management. He spent most of his time fostering relationships with people on the Help Desk, Programmers who served his customers and the systems administrators that were responsible for the applications his customers relied upon.
Why did Scott do this? The answer is twofold:
IT Managers are like most other managers, with better-than-average communication skills and an expectation that they will be treated well by other managers. They are used to being “sucked up to” by people who want something. Scott didn’t ignore this group, but he also didn’t see them as the key to his success.
IT non-managers (help desk, programmers, DBA, sysadmins, etc) never get attention, especially positive attention. They are often introverted, soft spoken individuals whom aren’t the target of peoples attention (personal or professional). Scott’s efforts had an enormous impact here, far more than at the management level. Plus, these were the very people doing the work that his customers (and his own) success depended upon, and a positive relationship acted as grease between wheels.
So what results do you get when you have a relationship?
Projects ran significantly smoother because of these strong relationships, and Scott was highly successful with his customers (and his boss). When the programmers had questions about what was needed, they simply called Scott.
When system administrators had concerns that a system was going to perform as needed, they simply called Scott. Scott created relationships that allowed professional communication to occur with greater frequency and speed than other BSMs who didn’t build those relationships.
In addition, it’s likely that the people doing the work felt happier and more interested in a successful outcomes because of the relationship. As is cited in a famous computer book, There is no substitute for enthusiasm, and I believe doing IT work is no exception. People simply did better work on his projects.
And when the inevitable problems occurred that impacted his customer, they were solved much faster than those of other BSM’s, because Scott could simply pick up the phone and talk to the people who could solve the problem.
Scott circumvented the bureaucracy and politics when it mattered most, and talked to people like friends needing help. Where others were frustrated with their ability to get IT to respond to problems, Scott never had a problem getting resources directed on his problems.
So, how strong is your relationship with the folks in IT? Are you seeing the benefits from the relationship?
Have you focused only on creating alliances with Management, or have you spent time nurturing relationships with the people who actually do the work?
Have you said “Thank you!” when they come through for you?
If nothing else - send one thank you email. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
“Hey John, I just wanted to say thanks for all that you and the rest of the team have done to help make our department a success. I know that a lot of times we get caught up in the day-to-day activities - and it’s so easy to overlook showing our appreciation for everything. So, I’m taking a moment. Thanks for making our lives better!”
Yup, it's as easy as that.