Information and technology are very broad components of every business. While there are strategic, operational and tactical elements of IT, people often think about technology in terms of products, hardware, software and services.
There is often an uneasiness around IT discussions. Employee definitions of IT vary widely, and conversations can range from concerns about email not working to selecting a software solution to help manage a business unit.
Part of being a good IT leader is to put colleagues at ease with your role. Help them open up to you and understand the challenges and opportunities they are having by talking to them as a partner in the business rather than “the IT guy.”
Re-route conversations that put you in a tactical or help desk role. If you are your organization’s IT leader, and you have a team or an outsourced vendor to handle tactical issues, inform your colleague that you will route their request through the proper channel. Then, take advantage of those conversations to help clarify your role.
Immerse yourself in the business and review the strategic plan, annual report or other strategic documents that give insight into the current and future state of the organization. Engage in conversations with your colleagues about the goals of their department using their terms—sales, donations, profits, margins, impacts, etc. Initially, they may be surprised by your level of interest and knowledge in the business. Help them to understand that your job is to connect what they do with the company IT strategy.
You are there to help position IT to enable and accelerate business. Take the time to schedule regular one-on-one meetings to continue to understand the business and deepen the relationship with your customers, who, in this case, are your colleagues.