Whether you are a CIO or a front
line IT professional, if you can not explain to other professionals,
either in IT or on the business end of your organization, exactly what
you do and what you deliver for the organization, you will have a
problem in this economic climate. Period.
As an IT professional, you need to
be able to present to your boss, your boss’s boss, the CEO, and
investors or shareholders how the loss of you as an individual, or the
loss of your team, would impact the business and its bottom line. In
these economic times, communication is no longer a “soft skill” or
“luxury” for an IT pro. It can mean the difference between maintaining
your position or losing it and/or the difference between being able to
retain funding for your division or your division shrinking.
So how can an IT leader become more effective at communicating? These six steps will certainly help:
1. Develop relationships within your
organization but outside of the IT department- This seems like common
sense but this often gets pushed to the side in favor of day-to-day
responsibilities that yield immediate results. It is much easier to
communicate what you do and why it is important to someone who is used
to hearing from you regularly. Make a habit of trying to develop a
relationship within a different division of the business at least once
2. Develop a message – How does what
you do, or what your team does, further the efforts of the
organization? How does it help the business achieve its bottom line
objectives? Being able to articulate this is crucial.
3. Be open. Be available.– IT can
often breed a solo or small team atmosphere. If you are a leader in
your organization, be seen. Nothing is worse than a CIO, CTO, EVP,
etc., who stays behind closed doors and remains silent.
4. Treat your top talent as you
would your board and investors – If you think you have talked to them
enough, go back and talk to them one more time. Trust me, if your top
talent is nervous– and they are– and you are not communicating with
them, they are looking elsewhere. As times get more challenging, your
top talent becomes more valuable to competitors. Replacing superstars
in this environment is not easy.
5. Be consistent – Nothing deflates
an organization or a team more than perceived inconsistency in
communication or communication style. Everything you do sends a
message, and communications, or lack thereof, sends a clear message.
(Hint – not a positive one)
6. Be open with information – Within
an organization, information hoarding is a thing of the past – the
reality is that whatever information you have, others will be able to
access soon enough. Information hoarding within an organization is
poisonous and breeds distrust.
Remember, in tough economic times,
leadership is always looking for places to cut. It is your job as an IT
leader to be prepared to educate those in the company hierarchy who
don’t understand the value of IT as well as those who view IT as a
basic commodity rather than an individualized function that improves a
company’s bottom line. This could mean the difference between funding
increases or decreases, headcount reductions or stabilization, or even
the difference between keeping some function in house rather than