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  • Adam Walter

What Really Matters

Listen: Humanize IT Podcast Blog Ep 124

Skip and Adam are back as co-hosts in this episode of Humanize IT, where the two discuss what really matters in the relationship between business and technology. As it turns out, bigger projects aren’t always better.

You may have just spent eight hours on a tedious task and get no recognition for it, because that’s what you’re expected to do. But if you take the time to learn the inner workings of the company and make an effort to help your colleagues every day, that’s how you build relationships, boost your reputation and get ahead in your career.

Of course, this concept can be frustrating. You’re one of few people who can do your job, you do it well, and it takes up the bulk of your time. But what do people remember about you? That one comment you made, or the time you showed up late to a meeting — not the amazing behind-the-scenes tech work you slaved over all day.

Your job, then, is to make sure those “little things” you get judged for are positive by balancing your large IT projects with simple, people-pleasing tasks, like buying the receptionist a new monitor. Meet expectations in your core job first, then focus on how you can serve the company. You should especially get to know the executive assistant, or whoever else coordinates the office activities. This person is the gatekeeper to the boss’s boss and will keep you in the loop about how the company functions. Then, you can use that to be more human in your approach to problems.

Is this basically brown-nosing? Yes. But, as Adam’s super-smart professor wife once said to her students, “brown-nosing works.” As long as you’re genuine, being kind to people will get you farther than diving deep into a project with an inanimate server that has no idea who you are.

To help you learn the who-needs-what behind each department, Adam suggests hosting “key stakeholders” meetings with decision-makers to identify who in the company everything funnels through. Many vCIOs ignore these meetings because

  1. They think they don’t have time

  2. They don’t understand their importance or

  3. They don’t know who the key stakeholders are

However, the truth is, these meetings are crucial to your job as an IT professional.

For example, maybe the boss thinks the biggest issue is printers, but among workers, it’s wifi. You’d never have known that without talking to certain key employees.These folks are your way of learning the pulse of the environment, allowing you to create a picture of what’s actually happening within the company. And, if you’re a CEO, make sure you identify these key stakeholders to your IT crew so they can prioritize the right tickets.

This ties back to our Unseen Worker and Improvised Intelligence episodes. Yes, we all desire that pat on the back for all the hard work no one notices, but at the end of the day, that’s just your job — no matter how skilled you may be. To really succeed, you must leave a positive impression by helping people in a way they can actually see. It’s your responsibility to find that happy medium between behind-the-scenes and center-stage work. If every day you can find a way to brighten someone’s day, big or small, you’re going to win in your career over time.

Learn how Skip may not have followed this philosophy as a young professional at a Fortune 500 oil company in our Fail of the Week: how did he upset the CEO’s executive assistants from 800 miles away?

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