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IT Managers Are Aloof, But So Is Everyone Else

01/27/2012 by: The SunView Team

Computer World recently posted an article that, based on most of the comments, seems to have struck a chord. Just looking at the title of the article, I instantly agreed - though perhaps not in the same way, nor with the one-sided appeal that IT is in any way unique with regard to being aloof. In fact, in my experience, depending on where you are standing, the other side of most interactions in businesses today will likely look like two parties - equal in their aloofness.

The fact is, everyone is really busy. Each department is doing a lot more than it ever has. Don't believe me, look no further than the US Bureau of labor statistics, and you'll see productivity in the last quarter was up 2.3%. With nearly 10% of those looking for work, still out of work, a lot less people are doing a lot more. The only way that works, is that people (workers) quickly learn to adapt. They have highly specialized tasks to get done - often without workers that have highly specialized skills.

Just by simple observation you find accounting, finance, and marketing departments that unite under a banner of being over-tasked - what I refer to as too many assignments, well outside your general skill set. Oddly enough, over-tasked individuals, have a tendency to appear aloof, or not genuinely interested in solving a problem that doesn't add a lot of perceived value. Of course, there is a lot of overworking going on as well. However, while overwork may continue, most employees deal with being over-tasked by reducing personal interactions to only those that add value. Essentially, remove the "busy work."

Coincidentally, we've covered this topic before - again aimed directly at IT. Though previously it focused on figuring out "Why Everyone Hates the Help Desk." While not directly listed there, something that was covered is the feeling that a Help Desk can feel disinterested in actually solving problems - often many of the same problems they see over and over again. This is in no way unique to IT, and has been the source of comedic material related to the volume of work received by, and nature of working for, the US Postal Service. Setting US sitcoms from the nineties aside for the moment, there are things that IT organizations can do to reduce aloofness, and set a standard for the rest of the departments in the business to follow.

The first big step, is to make sure your skilled labor - your Help / Service Desk is providing solutions to issues that customers couldn't otherwise solve for themselves. This means getting tools to the rest of the workforce that reduce non-essential interactions. This can be as simple as automated password resets, or slightly more complicated endeavors like self-service portals - otherwise known as a Service Catalog.

Hopefully you have picked up on the key word in the paragraph above - self-service. With that in mind, take an objective look at how requests and incidents are routed to your Help / Service Desk. Perhaps even going the extra mile, and polling your customers to see if they understand what services are available. As we've mentioned before, a Service Catalog will provide the backbone for self-service and automation initiatives, allowing you to save your team from asking for the same information a hundred times a day. While this won't solve the problems of IT being viewed as aloof, it will start to change the perspective that you are an organization within the business that solves problems, rather than a replacement for technology that routes requests.

Want to take it a step further, check out our video created in collaboration with the experts from Pink Elephant. This Getting Started Video, focused on Incident Management, will build on the principals mentioned above. Check it out!