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a blog by Don R. Crawley

Keynote Speaker on
IT Customer Service and Compassion

Bringing humanity into the world of technology

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As IT pros, we understand the technology we work with, but successful careers in IT involve much more than the technical aspects of knowing how to code, set up a server, or configure a router. Here are five concepts IT pros need to understand for success in their careers.

Careers Concept #1: Our jobs are not about technology, they’re about helping other people do their jobs.

Sure, we work in technology and our jobs require a deep understanding of the technologies with which we work. Still, if we’re not solving human problems in the workplace, what’s the point of what we do? We may be masters of configuring access control lists or building apps, but if they don’t serve people, there’s no point to them. I love working with various aspects of technology, sometimes even to the point of distraction. Ultimately, however, the work which I perform must serve people.

Careers Concept #2: We must stay up to date on technology.

Even though our careers are built on service to people, technology is the main tool we use to provide that service. Technology advances at a mind-boggling pace. Bill Gates even referred to “business at the speed of thought“. The in-depth understanding we gain today will be obsolete soon. Some of what we know today may be useful as a foundation for tomorrow’s required knowledge, but much of today’s knowledge will be useless in tomorrow’s world. For example, think about how much demand there is for a Windows 95 expert today. In our field, there’s no room for anyone mired in yesterday’s technology, culture, or behaviors.

Careers Concept #3: There’s a difference between being honest and being rude.

Authenticity has become a popular business buzzword recently. Authenticity or candor allows us to make informed decisions, to avoid repeating mistakes, and challenges our preconceived notions about how things work. Sometimes, however, those of us who work in technology forget that we’re working with human beings and forget that authenticity must be combined with sensitivity. Argumentative people are off-putting and rude. They may win a few battles, but they’ll lose the war as they lose the support of their colleagues. Conversely, it’s important to stand up for ourselves or risk losing the respect of our colleagues, bosses, and clients. Still, it’s not necessary to put another person down in order to stand up for yourself. Choose your words carefully. To quote author Meryl Runion, “Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t be mean when you say it.”

Careers Concept #4: When people like you, they’ll go to bat for you.

Perhaps you’ve heard people say they don’t care if other people like them, as long as they respect them. While respect is certainly important, if people like you they’ll stand up for you and your ideas behind your back. In my training seminars, we often talk about whether we’re creating advocates or detractors behind our backs. When people both respect and like you, they’ll be more likely to be an advocate for you during hall conversations, in break rooms, and around the water cooler. Being likable doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gregarious and outgoing. It also doesn’t mean you agree with everything other people say or believe, it could simply mean that people find you easy to be around. The use of basic manners can go a long way toward helping people come over to your side. Be polite.

Careers Concept #5: Patience is a virtue.

It’s an old saying and it’s true. Good things come to people who are willing to wait. Sometimes, organizations move very slowly. If you work in government, for example, things can seem like they’re moving at a snail’s pace. Change can happen, however, given enough time. People and organizations, like morning traffic, often move much more slowly than we’d like. Be patient, be persistent, and your career will benefit.

Our jobs, in information systems and technology, are not about technology. Our jobs are about helping our end users…our customers…work more productively, effectively, and creatively. Our jobs are about crafting creative technical solutions to perplexing human problems in the workplace.

For More Ideas on How to Improve Communication and Customer Service Skills

Bring my IT customer service training seminar onsite to your location for your group, small or large. Click here for the course description and outline.

Customer service book for IT staffPick up a copy of my IT customer service book The Compassionate Geek: How Engineers, IT Pros, and Other Tech Specialists Can Master Human Relations Skills to Deliver Outstanding Customer Service, available through Amazon and other resellers.

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