I frequently receive calls and emails from potential clients who say something like this, “Our IT staff is filled with highly intelligent, very talented individuals who are great at solving technical problems, but they don’t understand that we’re a business.” Then, they’ll talk about how great the IT staff is with the technical aspects of their job, but how they’re difficult to work with, don’t understand that they work for a business, and don’t understand that they have to deal effectively with people in order to do their jobs.
Here’s the cold reality: In business, unless you’re contributing to profitability, your job is always at risk. If you work for a business, you must always be making a positive contribution to the profitability of the business. If you work for a non-profit or a government entity, you must always be making a positive contribution to the mission of the organization. I remember standing in line at the registrar’s office at the university I attended waiting to pay my tuition and fees. I overheard one of the staff members say, “This job would be great if it weren’t for the darned students.” I sometimes encounter IT staff members who say something similar. They complain about end user requests and odd behaviors. Many of their complaints are perfectly understandable, and yet, if it weren’t for the end users, we wouldn’t have jobs. We must always remember that our jobs are not just technical in nature. Our jobs are about crafting creative technical solutions to perplexing human problems in the workplace. Our jobs are about providing caring and compassionate service to our co-workers who are trying to do their jobs.
This means that we work to create an open and inviting atmosphere in our public-facing areas. If we have tech cafes or similar support options, they need to be bright and inviting for non-technical people to visit. We need to immediately acknowledge our end users and customers when they come to visit. We need to always be friendly professionals and create an atmosphere in our end user-facing areas that speaks of friendly professionalism. Even if we don’t have public-facing areas, we must still strive to be seen as friendly professionals.
Many end users are intimidated by IT people and that needs to change. Many managers are frustrated by IT staff who seem aloof and arrogant. Certainly, there are many of us who are well-meaning, but unintentionally come across as arrogant and aloof. Regardless, it’s important for all of us in IT to work on our people skills and to understand that our departments exist solely to support the business and the people, our colleagues, who work in it.
For More Ideas on How to Improve Communication and Customer Service Skills
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