Home > IT Management, Leadership & People > Part 2: IT Organizational Development, Recruiting and other head hurting stuff

Part 2: IT Organizational Development, Recruiting and other head hurting stuff

In Part 1, I wrote about the need to have a stable IT organization and this keeps me awake at night, burning many brain cells to ensure it’s there. What the underlying foundation is, is the “Every Day IT”[tm] service must be done flawlessly and 24x7x365. And good people is still required first and foremost. Without taking care of this, one can forget about the other parts of IT. These IT engineers (e.g. system admins, network admins, database admins) are the bedrock of a healthy and effective IT function. Without them, you might as well be standing on quicksand, forever mired in firefighting mode. Only with this foundation firmed up, the business analysts, project managers etc can do their work knowing they’ve got some “back up” (i.e. “ammo” from SMEs who can provide air cover when it gets hot and heavy with the customer).

So this leads of course to the interesting question of what kind of people do you need/want in this organization? Surprisingly, I did a quick profile of my current team and found that nearly 100% of us are either the elder/eldest sibling regardless of gender. I was stunned. Now, more than half the team was inherited so they weren’t “my guys”. Still, what a quirk of fate.

It may be that it isn’t totally by accident that the team composition over time will take on some of my own personality – good, bad and ugly. For me, this is a concern because building a team requires diversity of many things. And I’m a believer people NOT being like me (unless they were smart with similar professional values and ethics as myself). So how do I look for diversity of individuals?

For one, I like using psychometric tests. Interestingly enough, my organization doesn’t. Nevertheless, we do it on an informal basis for all hires. In one of our training courses for new managers/supervisors, the instructor taught what is known as the 4 Grid Personality and Team Profiling to help communicate and coach staff or team members. The closest I could find on the web is located here. The whole team did it and we found that the balance was quite unique and that we were all represented in the 4 quadrants which is desirable result. One could say that it would cause some difficulties with communications – which did happen – but over time, the team managed it and built the strong relationships and clear communication channels and I believe is well on its way to being a high-performing team. This tool is simple to use and provides good information without going overboard – sort of like the 80-20 Rule. For project managers types, Max Wideman has a good read about suitable project manager profiles. The other thing I look for are people with uncommon backgrounds such as an IT guy NOT having an IT background. Do IT guys really need to be MIS/technical majors for example (this isn’t a rhetorical question btw)?

Inevitably, with new hires, comes the question of what kind of skills sets am I looking for? Well there’s no shortage of need.. I need BA skills, PM skills, specific technical skills, consulting skills – a superman/woman who can do anything and everything that’s required depending on the circumstances. Highly unlikely. So what to do? Hire for attitude and teach skills? Or hire for skills because you need it several weeks ago? Find the smartest regardless of “position” and let them go because smart people will figure it out eventually? Does time, strategy, IT operating framework all have to be considered? How about one’s own ability to lead and manage people? The knock against smart people is that they can sometimes be quite unmanageable. Can you or your team handle that – clear superstars? It’s the basketball equivalent of the 2003-2004 Hall of Fame LA Laker team vs. 2003-2004 Piston team. The true team beat the Hall of Fame team. 5 superstars does not make a team. My bias is clearly with these Piston teams and the Spur teams of Tim Duncan. And this is reflected in my team building approach.

What is your team building approach?

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