In my last article, I wrote about the importance of training, and how I believe it is the missing ingredient to IT success. This is something I feel rather strongly about and will discuss with anyone who listens.
But as I mentioned, the word training comes with some negative connotations – at least for myself. I associate it with being a student in a structured classroom setting where I’m supposed to follow the teacher’s instructions. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that many of my peers feel the same way.
But this is just one surface-level symptom of a larger issue. The fact of the matter is that many organizations don’t understand how to fully engage their IT departments. As a result, continuing education suffers, employees begin to lose focus, and productivity wanes.
This is why I’m a major proponent of finding better ways to engage IT employees and make them feel like what they’re doing is important and appreciated. In doing so, the entire organization benefits.
Ideas for Keeping Employees Engaged
How do we engage our IT employees? That’s a question that organizations need to consider as we move forward. And while there are some IT-specific strategies, a larger organizational perspective is critically important. Committing to engaging the company as a whole will lead to benefits for the IT department.
The first idea is to pull back on mindless restrictions that aim to establish pointless uniformity in the organization. This is something Zappos, the online shoe retailer, is adamant about.
“Zappos has a casual work environment where employees can be their most authentic selves,” according to an article in U.S. News & World Report. “The dress code is relaxed so they can feel comfortable. As long as their outfits are respectable and work-appropriate, employees have the freedom to express their individual style.”
When employees feel like themselves, they’re more engaged. It tears down the imaginary barrier between work and personal life and starts to feel more natural.
The second thing I recommend is for companies to invest in regular departmental team-building outings. Your IT employees would do well to get out of their comfort zones and try something they’ve never done before. I would recommend an activity like whitewater rafting. I did this while working for a previous employer, and we all left feeling like we knew each other better.
The goal of a team-building outing is to force employees to rely on one another. This increases trust and allows each individual to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of his or her co-workers. Upon returning to a work setting, everyone feels like they have a better picture of what they’re doing.
The third key is to be clear with your company’s vision and the IT department’s goals.
“People want to understand the vision that senior leadership has for the organization, and the goals that leaders or departmental heads have for the division, unit, or team,” according to Dan Crim, an expert in organizational behavior. “Success in life and organizations is, to a great extent, determined by how clear individuals are about their goals and what they really want to achieve.”
Make the Investment in Engagement
I’ve worked in a number of organizations and can tell you that there’s a huge difference between companies that focus on employee engagement and those that ignore it.
Become a company that prioritizes engagement, and your IT employees will appreciate your investment.
Larry Alton, Writer, LarryAlton.Com
[ISACA Now Blog]