What are the relationships like between the departments at your company? Chances are that you aren’t all peas in a pod, but is there at least some familiarity there? Some camaraderie based on the fact that you’re all working toward the success of your company? Or, more likely, is there as little exchange between your tech team and the people who’s technology they support as there is between the polar bears and the orangutans at the zoo? Just because you work in different parts of the building doesn’t mean that there can’t at least be a little familiarity between your technical and IT staff and the employees that they support.
Now, in my experience, employees’ relationships with IT is pretty love-hate. If Mr. Fixit is able to get your computer up and running again then he’s a “life saver” or “an angel” or “he’s so quiet but he’s such a nice guy!” On the other hand, when things don’t go so perfectly then he’s a “nerd” or “incompetent” or “I could do his job, blind folded and upside down.” Probably the major reason for this strange relationship has to do with technology itself. Today’s businesses are ever more dependent on technology, which makes it all the more frustrating when, inevitably, that technology stops working.
Lets say that your work computer crashes as you’re finishing up a project that you’ve been working on for the last 2 months. You scoop up your laptop and run frantically to the door before you realize that you have no idea where the heck the IT department is. So you talk to your co-worker and get the extension and pretty soon you’re on the phone with someone you’ve never met before, talking their ear off about the little wuuurrrr that your computer made just before everything went belly up. Before too long, the IT guy appears. Without a word, he scoops up your your laptop and whisks it off to whatever office he emerged from. You wait for the rest of the day, biting your nails and checking your email every 5 minutes (via your smartphone) for some sign that things are moving forward. The next day, after you’ve advanced to “nervous wreck” on the stress scale, you finally make a trip down to the IT department and discover that your computer has been ready for the last 24 hours. You’re livid. Why didn’t anyone tell you what the procedure was? You’re behind in your work, at your wit’s end and it’s all that IT guy’s fault.
This conflict could have been avoided entirely if someone had made an introduction somewhere along the line. In order to mitigate the stress on everyone involved, make sure that you promote unity between your tech/IT department and the rest of your staff. Take a sampling from each department out to lunch, just to get everyone on a first name basis or else make sure that you make some of those key introductions at the next company party or outing. Whether you’re all enjoying the sun shine at the company picnic or taking a retreat to white water raft for an afternoon, facilitate some positive interactions between your tech team and some people that they don’t usually encounter. This way, your staff can pull together in stressful situations instead of staying in the dark and falling apart.