People usually get into IT because they are good with computers, not because they are good with people. They are often analytical programmer types who we classify as geeks, nerds or something like that. IT companies even brag about their “geek” power. The truth is that it takes more than geekiness to be awesome at IT.
What makes a great IT person? Well, they obviously need to be tech-savvy, but the awesome IT person is so much more. Their skills go beyond tech to understanding business and people. A great IT person makes people comfortable with IT and knows how to apply tech to create real value in an organization.
Here are 7 Traits of AWESOME IT people:
1. Great IT people are strategic. When was the last time your IT person gave you an idea that really changed things? A business owner just today said to me, “I rarely understand what he is talking about…” Your IT team should have at least one person who can apply technology to meet your strategic growth goals. They should be asking smart questions. Is our business software going to grow with us to meet our 3-5 year growth plan? What are the repetitive mundane tasks that take up our team’s time and how can we apply technology to automate these tasks? How can we train our team to be less susceptible to the new spear-phishing tactics?
2. Exceptional IT people are people focused. They care about people and they talk about them in a positive way. So often IT people develop a “dumb user” mentality, which is the path to being totally ineffective. Good IT people maintain their belief in others and are always trying to help them improve and be better with better technology.
3. Really good IT people are security conscious. They are not still handing out “passwords”, or your company name as your new employee’s password. They have brought to the attention of the executive team things like the benefit of filtering Internet, or the need to provide “Safe Computing” training to your team. A great IT person leads the charge to keep you secure. He does not down-play security, but gives it real attention and review.
4. Awesome IT people truly understand value. While money is important their concern is around value and if an expenditure brings the right value to people. If an SSD hard drive will save a power user 10 minutes a day, is it worth the extra expenditure? You bet it is! If their conversation is always around “saving money”, buying refurbished equipment, and conserving, rather than speeding things up, making things smoother, and reducing down-time, you may need to upgrade – your IT person that is!
5. Outstanding IT people are not always in fireman mode. Don’t get me wrong, there are always fires that need put out and a good IT person knows how to put them out. The difference is that outstanding IT people focus on preventing fires. They choose the right long-term solution rather than the quick fix Band-Aid. This means that eventually they smooth things out. The server crashes, the Internet outages, the PC failures, under the direction of an outstanding IT person these eventually taper off and things start to smooth out.
6. Effectual IT people take notes. Everything changes so quickly in IT that it is so easy to lose track. A great IT person knows this and takes notes on how she solved a trouble ticket. She keeps notes on how she configured a server, notes on the right settings for the Internet connection, and notes on what tasks are next. Without effectual documentation IT people spend far too much time re-inventing the wheel, or figuring out what they already learned the last time around.
7. The truly talented IT person is always learning. They recognize that IT is an ever changing field and it is essential that they keep up with new technology. This learning may come through reading, formal classes, vendor certifications, or online learning, but they view it as essential that they stay on a learning path. I see repeated instances of how IT people fall short in this area when we take over a new account. They often have invested recently in new, but old technology. What was the best solution five years ago rarely is now. The truly talented IT person is aware of new developments and stays up-to-date.
There are some great IT people in this world, and I am proud to have an awesome team of them at CT. Our people are outstanding, and they are always working to grow and improve. It really takes a whole team of IT people and a consistent, systematic approach to excel.
Whether you are an IT person, or a company looking for IT people, don’t settle for “geek”. Instead, find or develop an IT person who gets tech, business, and people.