Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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8/18/2014
10:50 AM
Sandy Salty
Sandy Salty
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5 Steps To A Healthy IT Culture

Internal politics can jeopardize the success of IT projects. Here's how to maximize morale, encourage teamwork, and foster a healthier organization.

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MDMConsult14
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MDMConsult14,
User Rank: Moderator
8/20/2014 | 1:21:24 PM
Re: Knowing your people
True. A great leader will be respectful and mindful of all these areas. They should offer the right support, encouragement and also be a critic of the teams work. These factors will also build trust and help individuals grow.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
8/18/2014 | 5:49:01 PM
Re: 5 Steps To A Healthy IT Culture
It is true that organizational problems and 'culture' health are a woefully underadressed topic when it comes to IT (and, to be honest, business in general). The way you put it, Sandy, makes it hard to argue with - businesses start with humans, not the other way around, so what could be more important than taking care of the humans at your business!? Likewise, these problems can't really be reversed once they've gone too far, and words and actions don't count after a certain point - it's too late. We talk a lot here about 'bad culture' - you just walk in the door and you feel it. What's that's already happened, it's too late.

That being said, while I think your five tips are coming from the right place, I still question how possible it is to nip some of these problem 'in the bud', so to speak. You say you should work through interpersonal conflicts before they arise, and that's true... but how many people are really going to speak up and admit their personal biases or gripes with someone else when you ask them? Most people will just lie. Your managerial advice (IE invest in your talent) is also good, but at the same time, in those bad times, the budget might just be out of your hands. I think we should try to invest in good culture, but good culture has to start with good people. You can only do so much to make them good.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
8/18/2014 | 4:05:05 PM
Re: Knowing your people
Great insight, shathcock750. Trust is one of the most critical factors involved in retention and positivity in culture. Without trust, you can't build or maintain a team. Staff can't grow and the entire organization suffers. Time invested in building trust pays off in ways that can't be imagined until you've gone through it.
shathcock750
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shathcock750,
User Rank: Strategist
8/18/2014 | 12:24:38 PM
Knowing your people
I would also add that your people also need to know each other.  As you say, once you know their motivation you can understand why the do the things they do.  It becomes and "ahh" moment instead of conflict.  Encouraging trust in one another as well as their trust in you as a leader cannot be understated.  Many IT groups have a high turnover not due to higher salaries but due to the politics.  Higher salaries are great but if you're miserable earning it, is it really worth it?  Give reasons for your decisions.  Once your team knows that you've given full consideration to everyone's thoughts and you're acknowledgement of those as worthwhile you will gain their trust and harmony will follow.

All of that said, everyone has faults and you as a leader can as well.  If you make a mistake take responsibility for it, acknowledge it, give voice to your faults and make yourself open to critical feedback.  People will only follow those they respect and that isn't given due to a job title but due to respect in you as a person and their faith that you are all in it together.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
8/18/2014 | 11:57:14 AM
Culture
As IT works ever more closely with marketing, cultural issues will surface there as well. When you merge two different tribes, it is never easy. Leaders must pay more than lip service to breaking down resentments between groups.
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