How To Improve Communication Within Your IT Department
Whether you are part of a global IT team, a local IT department or an outsourced IT solution, you likely face daily challenges with communication. Ineffective communication is an expensive time-suck that wastes valuable resources. Not knowing who to go to or who to ask within your own department can be extremely frustrating, and your team’s level of service and reputation are ultimately impacted. Communication techniques and procedures should be documented, well explained, supported at the highest levels and geared towards your team’s audience.
Promote Smart Processes And Procedures
Operating processes and procedures play a critical role in effective communication. Every established way of doing things needs to have a clear, relevant benefit to your staff. Your team needs to understand why they are doing things a certain way. Well-documented SOPs that are maintained in real time keep everyone on the same page. People will know what is expected of them in their interactions with each other, as well as with internal and external customers.
Expect, Require And Facilitate Effective Communication
Matt Nutsch, a senior software and product management professional, has seen first hand the benefits of effective communication practices within IT. He knows that well-established processes can overcome reserved personalities and poor communication practices.
“Sometimes people with engineering backgrounds don’t feel comfortable speaking with others. A good practice is to set up a structure for communication. This will prompt communication. In a software development context, this type of structure can be: Daily stand up meetings. Sprint retrospectives & sprint planning meetings. Monthly (or even weekly) one on one meetings with supervisors.”
Effective communication is, of course more than just participating in discussions. People need to bring the right attitude to the conversation. Netflix, for example, does not tolerate “brilliant jerks” because the cost on teamwork, morale and productivity is too high. Inappropriate behavior towards coworkers, customers or vendors needs to be shut down right away. Bad attitudes are poison, and the longer you let them go, the more detrimental the effects. You can’t live in fear of not being able to replace people. There are so many resources available to help employers replace those few bad hires and hire the right people from the beginning, that there is no excuse for accepting disrespectful, counterproductive behavior in your department.
Be A “Unicorn” In Your IT Director Role
IT Directors need to be technically competent, but they also must have excellent interpersonal and communication skills. They are the face of the department, and they interface other department heads and resolve escalated issues for internal and external customers. This highly sought-after combination of skills might seem mythological to some, but you can show people that you are one of these impressive hybrids. Shawn Auger, an IT Director at a Fortune 500 company, understands the importance of effective communication in his role.
“As a Director, you have to be able to translate your team’s technical language in terms that other parts of the business understand. You need to be able to communicate the right message to the right people in the right way. Following through and following up are also critical. Once something is resolved, you should follow-up with an explanation of the resolution and set the expectation moving forward.”
As the best kind of IT Director, you will safeguard the department’s brand, while ensuring the professional development and performance of your team.