CXO

What's the secret of uniting an IT department?

Getting IT workers to become an effective team is a difficult balancing act, says the Naked CIO.

I have often wondered if fostering positive team dynamics is harder in IT then other areas of the business. Let's face it IT leaders are not considered to be HR gurus in many organizations.

IT employees tend to be more anti-establishment, which poses challenges when trying to build a high-performing team. In addition, the gun-for-hire mentality that has been engrained within the IT workforce does little to instill a sense of loyalty and belonging within the core of the workforce.

Once you add the passion - and arrogance - that comes with being a technocrat you have a mix that does not always bode well when it comes to constructing a team of individuals that complement one another.

IT people are opinionated and steadfast in their beliefs, often based on (sometimes unfounded) views on platforms, providers and software that they like or others that they don't.

Within technology companies this can be a strength as it unifies the collective sentiment to innovate or disrupt to the extent that it becomes a core principle.

However, within IT departments of large companies the angst so many IT employees seem to personify it can be problematic. As a team they refuse to embrace corporate culture because it is viewed as the enemy and they never really embrace the business values.

So is it even possible in the IT world to create team dynamics that enable high performance or do we just acknowledge that that IT teams are not capable of this type of collaboration?

I have worked with many groups of IT people. Most extremely talented and equally disgruntled. The pervasive attitude is that their talent is marginalized and their importance overlooked.

If you have a group that won't buy into the standard corporate culture then it's time to try something different. Sometimes it is necessary to focus on a common problem rather than advocate a corporate culture that brings IT people together to rally around a common cause. While potentially disruptive it can often be the only glue that unites a bunch of talented individualistic crusaders to perform together.

That uniting factor could be anything from a dissatisfied organization that considers IT a roadblock to even internal sparring between dev and ops related functions: perhaps the trick is to accept that the rebellion-oriented culture and play to that culture to unify individuals who would likely be warring against themselves where a common enemy is not available.

The Naked CIO is an anonymous technology executive.

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