Daily Archives: July 12, 2010

Open door environment

Creating an environment where people know you are receptive to their ideas, needs, and inquiries is key toward building trust.

An “open door” environment (notice I didn’t say “policy”) can help you create the trust you need to be effective.

Your clients and users will be more open to discussing problems and working with you to develop solutions to those problems when you don’t “shoot the messenger”.

Employees will trust the fact that they can be open and honest about issues with their manager when they aren’t penalized for discussing tough subjects.

To have an open door process, you have to do more than just state that you have one. How you go about handling those who seek your counsel and advice will set the tone for whether your IT organization actually provides an open door “environment” or simply refers to a “policy”.

Creating the right environment to work in is by far more important than creating a policy.

Don’t get this tip confused with a legitimate “open door policy” where an employee has the ability to talk to your boss about an issue. This is important but not what I’m focusing on in this article.

You want to create an environment where people feel comfortable, even encouraged, in coming to talk with you about their issues. If you don’t create such an environment, the big loser will be you, , , so ask yourself the question, “Are people comfortable in discussing their problems with you?” If not, you need to make some changes that helps them get there.

Motivating IT staff

Motivating employees is something I really like to do. It’s a conscious thought and a deliberate, proactive effort that you must go through when managing an IT Organization.

Employees want and need leadership. They want to be “pumped up” and feel energized in doing their work. One of the most gratifying things is being part of an organization that is all focused on the same objective and is “charging up the hill” to reach it’s destination.

Motivating employees begins with honesty, respect, and an understanding of what motivates an individual.

People are not motivated by deception, being taken advantage of, or being kept in the dark. Showing respect means sharing your company’s objectives and how your IT Organizations fits into the grand scheme of things.

When I was a young employee at IBM, I enjoyed the comradeship and the monthly branch meetings with recognition and agendas that focused our efforts. Much of these principles are what I take to a new IT organization as their IT manager.

My book, IT Staff Motivation and Development, provides insight into the process I use and many of the techniques I use to “pump up” the staff. The most important aspect is that you must genuinely care about your staff and do all that you can do to help them be successful. You must recognize that their individual successes lead to the organization’s success which leads to your success.

You will not be a successful IT manager unless your people are successful. What this means is that your job is to do everything you can to support your staff and help each person be successful. If they are, then you will become successful as a result.

Here are a few techniques I have used. Just remember, if you aren’t sincere it will have an opposite effect.

  • Schedule monthly staff meetings to recognize achievement
  • Hand out ice cream sandwiches in the afternoon
  • Award an evening on the town for results
  • Develop a training program for your staff (learning new things is always one of the top motivations for IT employees)
  • Pizza lunches
  • Motivational films
  • Give your staff credit for accomplishments and take the “hit” as their manager for your organization’s failures
  • Be a positive force and set the tone with positive energy in the company
  • Reward desired behavior as well as successes
  • Do some things to interject some fun in your staff’s day

Motivating employees happens because you decide to make it happen and you implement a strategy to do so; it doesn’t happen by accident. Take a look at yourself and think about what motivated you as an employee. You will find that many of these things still work with today’s employees.

Ultimately, it’s more about caring for others and respect for the individual than anything else. When you do, it shows them that you truly appreciate their efforts, , , and this goes a long, long way.