No one expects IT professionals to stroll around with fixed Hollywood smiles. But constant sniping at management will just turn the IT department into the bad child of the organisation, says the Naked CIO.
I love much of the feedback that silicon.com readers leave about my articles but I have noticed a worrying trend. The amount of disgruntled carping from rank-and-file IT workers directed at senior IT management troubles me and suggests grounds for concern for CIOs everywhere.
The comments on my articles are only a small evidence of a larger phenomenon but nevertheless point to a negativity festering among UK IT professionals. This negativity needs to be addressed and, more importantly, resolved. Bickering and infighting will only serve to undermine IT departments at a time when they need to be resolute in their message and confident of their service.
Nothing says disgruntled more than the atypical IT guy. If IT is consistently seen as the uncooperative child of the organisation, the consequences will be damaging and create further uncertainty.
I am not saying IT professionals need to smile constantly, especially when faced with working conditions or practices that are substandard. But I have always held to one basic ideal that my colleagues are all too familiar with. If you come into a room telling me that something cannot be achieved, make sure you come in with alternative ideas on how we can move towards an answer.
I have no time or patience for people who stand steadfast as part of the problem rather than attempt to be part of the solution. IT departments need to work on a number of things. First, they need to have a central vision as to what role they play in their organisation. By 'central' I mean a vision everyone buys into rather then something that is imposed.
Secondly, IT needs to work on its PR. It is fine to have a spirited and healthy debate but this should be contained within the department. Outwardly, the department should have a common message. This requirement is basic PR and needs to be adopted by IT - other departments do not hang out their dirty washing in public, so why should we?
Most importantly, we need to identify why there seems to be a disconnect between rank-and-file workers and senior management. Why does this contempt for senior management exist in IT? Are we really that bad? Or is it just the remnants of old British labour ideals that dictate that no self-respecting employee can like their superior and must unite to discredit management at every opportunity.
I'm lucky to have worked in environments as part of a team culture and where I have been energised by individual willingness that fostered really positive working environments. But such cultures seem to be the exception rather than the rule.
Senior IT management must see the inherent value of their workers, promote their positive attributes throughout their organisation and never use their staff as an excuse for failing to deliver. Equally IT professionals must see beyond the perception that management are elitist bureaucrats with no value to justify their standing in the organisation.
Only through partnership can IT departments become enterprises that are seen as drivers for the organisation. If we are broken as a unit, it stands to reason our delivery will be flawed and not meet expectations.
If you are an elitist senior manager, take a good look at the staff who allow you to be successful and work with them to make your IT department the best it can be.
If you a disgruntled IT professional ask yourself how your anger helps the situation. Work to change it, not through distrust but through identifying and suggesting ways to improve your working environment, which will have a positive benefit on your company.
Change doesn't only mean infrastructure and software. Often the biggest change happens by altering the attitudes of your team, yourself and the organisation. Perhaps more time should be spent on the often-overlooked dynamic of IT departments.
Do you agree with the Naked CIO's views on the inherent negativity of many rank-and-file IT professionals towards their managers, and the harm it is doing to IT? Let us know by posting a reader comment below.