You want to be a successful IT executive? Rule number ONE: While sometimes you can complain about the company to trusted peers, never complain about the company to your subordinates and never, ever to your superiors!
Think about this. As an IT executive, would you promote someone on your technical team who continually complains to you about the company? I think not. Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. How motivated would you be if your boss was continually saying the company is lousy, doing poorly and is badly run? Not hugely encouraging right? Under this circumstance, you would more likely be motivated to update your resume, pull out the list of all your senior IT contacts and begin making calls to find a new job!
Remember, as an IT leader, you’re an important part of the management team. This means it’s important to consider and remember the following:
- You’re the voice of the company to the technologists and others who report to you
- Your primary job is to assist senior management in achieving the company vision by meeting IT strategic and operational goals
- It’s your responsibility to take senior management’s vision and adapt it to your department by effectively communicating this view to your IT staff
- You’re also a representative of your company to IT vendors, clients, government agencies, and the press
- If you fail to support the company vision and/or effectively support company goals, it will affect your reputation, your compensation, your upward mobility and possibly your job as IT manager.
Of course, if you become aware that your company was doing something dishonest or illegal, that is a different matter, but you cannot ignore your company’s new marketing plan or vacation policy because it will require changes for your IT staff or because you would have personally designed them differently.
A number of years ago I reported to one of my favorite IT executives. When she made decisions I didn’t like or agree with, she allowed me to raise my concerns. Sometimes she agreed with me and the decision was modified. Other times, she stayed with her original decision and I would work diligently with my technical team to follow her instruction. This worked out well for both of us. I knew that, in the appropriate setting, I could safely present my concerns without fear of punishment and she knew that once a final decision was made, I would publicly support and follow her direction regardless of my personal feelings. When working with your staff, I suggest that you treat your staff the way my boss treated me –that is with openness and respect.
Some decisions affecting IT may be made above your manager’s level, thus making it very difficult or impossible for you to directly challenge or influence new company policies, procedures and/or initiatives. In these cases, consider the following:
- Support official company policies even if you don’t personally like them or agree with them, as it’s your job as part of the IT management team. Do your best to understand the reasoning behind new goals and attempt to get enthusiastic.
- If new decisions involve internal rules and procedures on company-wide hiring, performance review, budget planning and other processes, then do support and follow this new vision as it relates to IT. These systems can only be effective and work efficiently if everyone in the company does them consistently.
- Never doubt this — speaking poorly about your company and/or overall IT strategies to other employees may be viewed as very unprofessional, particularly by those who like or agree with a vision you are badmouthing and this can have a serious, negative effect on your present and future role as an IT leader