Tag Archives: it staff motivation

Assign a paparazzi to your IT team

PhotographerYou should assign a paparazzi to your IT team and start documenting your journey. You may not realize it, but right now may be one of the best work experiences in your entire career.

There are three companies I look back upon in my career and think of them as my best experiences. Much of what made these situations special has to do with the people I worked with, part of it was the type of work we were doing, and some of it was even the client experiences.

There are two things I wish I had done earlier in my career:

  1. Kept a journal
  2. Taken more photos

No excuse for not keeping a journal, , , just didn’t think about it back then. Wish I had because there were many memorable moments that I know would be worth remembering now.

I keep two journals now, , , one for business and one that’s personal. I don’t write in them every day but try to capture important events and a few things I think will be worth remembering when I’m in my 80’s and 90’s. 🙂

On the photos issue, I do have a reason for lacking more photos. Early in my career we had to use film, , , digital cameras were not around yet. So, the hard copy photos I have are far and few between and many have been lost over time. Digital is so much better. Wish we had digital cameras when I was a kid!

When I stumble upon a hard copy photo from my early career, it usually brings back good memories, , , like the one below.

Mike_BryanThis is Bryan Hathcock, my first IBM manager and one of the best managers I’ve ever worked for, awarding me a $20 gold coin for helping sell the most IBM software applications during a contest period. I remember working hard to help my primary Sales Rep, Jim Cockerham, focus on this objective. Jim is also in the photo (far left) and just seeing Jim and Bryan brings back so many great memories of my “IBM days”. Note the wide tie and jet black hair!

I st$20_Gold_Coinill have my $20 gold coin which is now worth more than $1,000.

I talked to Bryan just last week which may have prompted me to think about writing this post. He is in his 80’s now but hasn’t changed a lot. Hoping to stop by and visit him when I’m in Atlanta in April for our niece’s wedding and share some memories.

Back to the paparazzi idea, , , why do I recommend you assign a paparazzi and start taking photos? Well, there are several reasons:

  • Capturing memories at work may be appreciated later in your life. Like I said, these times may be some of the best you will experience in  your career.
  • Develop slideshows with high energy background music for some of your IT staff meetings, , , especially if you do an annual IT Kickoff Meeting. Your employees like to see themselves on “the big screen” in a slide show. Trust me, it’s great motivational material in a staff meeting. How do I know? Simple, I’ve been an employee and liked it and I’ve also seen it work great with employees who have worked for me.
  • It’s fun, , , and having fun at work from time to time is beneficial for both you and your employees.

In each of my IT Manager Institute classes I assign a paparazzi on the first day to take photos during the class. At the end of the class I give students a flash drive that contains IT management resources plus a file of all the class photos taken during the week. Some of them are truly memorable like the ones below:

CoinsDubai Institute managers showing off their MDE/IT Manager Institute coins

Institute-Tanner_Sep2014-2Tanner Medical managers in a fun class photo

IT Manager Institute - DubaiClass photo of one of my favorite Dubai Institute classes – October 2012
I have delivered 16 IT Manager Institutes in Dubai through 2015
I’m standing next to our paparazzi, Mohammed Abu Deeb from Saudi Arabia

kickoff_photosA small class but what a great group!!! I stay in contact with several of them.

kickoff_6Monika really enjoyed this desert!

18bEd presents Heitor a “Dead Chicken Award” – lots of laughs!

21cLjubljana Institute managers in our “Blues Brothers” pose

21bI’m 5’10” tall, , , Matej and Timor are 7′ tall – material for a memorable photo

institute39-bLagos Nigeria class presents me a painting that now hangs in my home office

Call me sentimental or foolish, but I like to reminisce and remember some of the “fun times” in my career. As you get older, you may discover it happens with you as well.

What type of photos do you want your IT paparazzi to capture? Good question, I recommend the following but don’t limit it to just my ideas:

  • Company events
  • Awards
  • IT employees at work
  • IT employees with your clients (Managers and Users)
  • Meetings
  • Off-site events
  • Cameo or ad hoc photos of your employees

Be creative and have some fun with the process, , , it really does not take a lot of time or effort.

photagrapher_2Take advantage of the motivational aspect work photos give you during IT staff meetings; I think you will find it has much more impact than you believe it will. Over time you will amass quite a library of photos that can be special to show your people “scenes of the past”.

SMILE, , , you are on Candid Camera !!

Reward desired behavior as well as successes

blue ribbonIt’s important to reward people for the successes achieved in your organization, but it’s also important to reward the behavior you want from the team.

You see, what gets rewarded gets emulated by others who see these things being recognized and rewarded.

Want your people to follow-up better? Find a way to recognize a positive action of one of your people in this area and reward them for it. Make an example of it.

Need people to ask for help when they run into challenges with one of their project tasks? Show the project team it is an example of strength when someone asks for help early enough so we can do something and avoid putting the project at risk, , , reward someone for asking for help.

There are hundreds of things you can do to reward the behavior you want in your organization. The key is you need to stop and think about the behavior you need on the team to mold your people into a highly effective IT support organization.

Are any behavior traits coming to mind that you want to reinforce with your team?

Think about the following list, , , just a small portion of behavior traits to consider:

  • Follow-up
  • Strong communication
  • Punctuality
  • “Going the extra mile” for a client
  • Helping a teammate
  • Being organized
  • Asking for help
  • Making good recommendations
  • Doing something to prevent support problems
  • Escalating a problem issue
  • Over communicating when needed
  • High work quality or high productivity
  • Positive handling of a client issue
  • Positive recognition of a fellow employee
  • Proactively working on a critical project task

Recognition needs to be for more than just for completing projects successfully. You want to encourage your team to be professional in how they go about their work as well.

An organization’s professionalism and client service reputation is built on not only what you accomplish but also how you go about it, , , i.e. the behavior of your team.

An IT organization’s reputation is solid only if the manager chooses to pay attention to it.

If not, your reputation will evolve based upon what’s going on and how your people handle the support business. Take charge of the situation by encouraging best practice behavior, , , you do this by recognizing and rewarding the desired behavior you want.

It’s difficult to force people to do things, but they will follow examples of positive behavior when they see it recognized and rewarded by their manager.

Risk #3: Losing people

The third risk listed in the Six Key Risks a CIO Must Avoid post is

Losing key people can create a lot of risk for an organization, especially when these people are in mission critical support roles or where you have minimal depth for key skills.

Keeping your good people is not all about money. Leaving a company for more money always ranks around 7th to 9th in the studies I’ve seen. There is usually something else that causes an employee to start looking for another employer.

However, when an employee gives you a resignation letter, they usually tell you they are leaving for more money. Don’t believe it, , , that’s typically not the real reason.

In a competitive market where companies are competing for quality employees, the challenge is to find ways that will help you keep your good employees.

Which employees are the most vulnerable for you to lose?

Your best people are the ones who will probably leave you if you aren’t doing things to keep them with you. That’s right, , , your best people.

The average ones are fairly content and the poor performers will stay with you forever if you allow them to. The best people will be the ones to walk into your office and hand you a resignation letter.

A few keys to help you retain your good employees include:

  • Challenge them
  • Being part of a winning team
  • Investing in them with training and education
  • Strong communication
  • Recognition and appreciation
  • Empowering them with real responsibility
  • Motivating events that keep it interesting
  • Having some fun

Training and education are powerful motivators
One of the top motivators in every survey I’ve seen that identifies reasons IT employees stay with their company is training and education. It is always in the top one or two positions.

What this says is that you need a training program that focuses the development of each employee on your staff, , , believe me, it will pay dividends. Not only will the staff become more capable, you will find people understand and appreciate the fact that their manager is investing in them.

Don’t underestimate how important showing appreciation for a job well done is. IT people are not the most appreciated work group around, , , much of what we work on is either a problem, fixing something, or changing something. We don’t get lots of accolades from our client. It’s up to the IT manager to ensure his team receives appreciation and a “pat on the back” for their hard work and accomplishments.

What I’ve seen is that keeping your good employees is a lot about paying attention to them and doing things that show you appreciate them. It does not take a lot of money to do this, , , it simply requires you to pay attention and do things every now and then that appreciates your employees’ hard work.

Need help motivating your employees? Take a look at IT Staff Motivation and Development: build a world class team