Wednesday, October 7, 2009

IT Clones or People? (Part 5 of 11 on Managing Tech 2 Meet Mission)

An army is a set of soldiers that are taught to follow orders, stay in line and do their job. Soldiers are pushed to loose their identity, hide personality, and fit in.

Special Ops teams though are chosen for their special talents. They are carefully selected to build a balanced team.  Each member is encouraged to be an individual but act as a unit.

But who gets selected for the Special Ops team? Is it solely based on skills, qualifications, experiences, certifications, etc? No, I would have to venture that there is more to it than what you know and what you can do, it is also who you are and how well you fit in with the team.

Think about all of the best army movies, superhero teams and even in person teams you know. Is the team a group of clones like stormtroopers that always get along? Or is it a team of individuals that can lead to some disagreement, difference of opinion but believe in a similar cause?

Obviously I am exaggerating this, but one of the things that we stressed in our tech team interviews is personality and how it will mix with the team. I have seen many managers that look to hire almost exact replicas of themselves.  They look to find someone they can get along with. But many of the most successful IT departments I have seen are composed of many differing opinions and personalities.

So the only thing that I would add to the chapter by James L. Weinberg and Cassie Scarano called Finding and Keeping the right people is to be purposeful about personality. This would include some exploration of the commitment to the mission that you work on. The chapter does offer a very comprehensive structure to follow in hiring, plus numerous easy to implement tips. Much of which was new learning to me, I will have to reread this one a few more times.

The part I really liked was how much they talked about what you should do before you even begin looking. Too often I see a rush to fill a quick staff need, rather than think through what the long term role that is needed.  I have seen so many job descriptions that stress an immediate need for technical expertise.  But what I have learned is that often it is easier to teach the technical skills than it is to find a team member.

Getting the right IT staff is not talked about enough. The success of IT Alignment depends on the staff more than the tools. How can IT have a solid relationship with the org if the IT team isnt purposeful in creating it's team to focus on relationships and mission?

FUNNY (TO ME) RANDOM THOUGHT: Often technology is thought of as just a set of tools. Isnt hiring staff only for tech skills treating them like a tool?

Over 11 weeks I am doing a themed series of blog posts. Each week I will write about a chapter of the book called Managing Technology to meet your Mission. This week is on the 5th chapter by James L. Weinberg and Cassie Scarano called Finding and Keeping the Right People. You should totally buy the book. (In case you are wondering, I am volunteering to do this, I am not getting paid or in any other way reimbursed for this. I just love NTEN and their events.)

Flickr photos by The U.S. Army and by Official Star Wars Blog

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