Monday, December 26, 2016

Top ten from 2016, part 2

I'm doing a year in review, and re-sharing some of my favorite articles from 2016. I posted the first part of the list last week. Here is the second set.

6. IT organizations must adapt or die
Think about how much things have changed since that application first went live in 1998. Back then, most of us used desktops. Laptops were available, but in the company where I worked, only the CEO and CIO used laptops. They were too expensive for the rest of us. Cell phones were common, but they were big, blocky affairs that only made phone calls. Technology is always changing. You don't have to go back very far to see how quickly technology evolves. Ask yourself how things will be different a few years from now.
7. Career ladders
A few years ago, I served on a committee to identify new career ladders for our IT teams. This work originated with a document I wrote about how to "level set" the compensation and seniority for our operations and infrastructure staff, many of who had joined our team as part of IT consolidations from different parts of the organization. In that document, I set a new career progression, from "junior" to "staff" to "senior" to "team lead," with compensation ranges for each. This document was going to be the basis for a re-organization of my teams. I have since used this career ladder concept as a basis for organizational planning. The document provides a simple overview of technology teams and how job areas are aligned and related. Our work was expansive. We defined eight separate career tracks, with different levels within each.
8. How to lead an affinity exercise
My job is to provide leadership to my IT organization, but often that leadership involves soliciting ideas from a larger group. You might lead a governance group, or you might meet with your entire team as part of an annual meeting. It's good to leverage meeting opportunities to caucus the group and tease out common ideas. But how you solicit ideas may differ depending on the size of the group. For small groups, I often use a SWOT exercise. In larger groups, I rely on some variation of an affinity exercise.
9. Good and bad bosses
We've all had good and bad bosses. Hopefully, you've had more good bosses than bad bosses. Nothing can sap the energy from you like a boss you don't like. On the bright side, a good boss makes you feel valued and excited to come to work every week. No matter what bosses you've had, I hope you learn from them. What best practices do you observe that you can adopt for your own management style? What bad habits do you notice that you should avoid? In this light, I'd like to reflect on several managers I've had over my career, both good and bad.
10. Yes but no
A former colleague from the University of Wisconsin-Madison once showed me how to build trust within teams through the "Yes and" approach. When you say "Yes," you provide agreement. If you build on that and say "Yes and," you lend support.I prefer "Yes and" statements. They are positive, reinforcing conversation tools that build trust. In contrast, "Yes but" statements erode trust. Some people seem to think it's the same as "Yes and," but it's not. "Yes but" is at best a way to stay on both sides of an issue. At worst, "Yes but" is a negating statement. The "Yes but" statement says "Yes, I agree with you, but not really."
That's it for 2016. Happy New Year!

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