Go ahead, let it all out. IT is the Ministry of No. They make you fill out a ticket before they’ll agree to say “good morning.” They’re slow as molasses. They stand between me and my password reset. I can’t understand a word they are saying.
And here were two IT leaders in my office today, asking me to help them dispel those myths. Uh, isn’t there a nuclear plant somewhere I can re-brand instead?
Ken and Kim open my eyes, though. Ken tells me that most of his team members come from the tech industry, where IT is the star of the show. They are sought after in important business discussions because they ARE the business. What they do and how they contribute is well understood by everyone up to and including the CEO.
But Ken’s team works in a health care organization, where IT is a service. Like HR. And we know how much people love HR (I’m helping re-brand them, too. Call me a glutton for punishment).
“They’re feeling pretty beat up,” Ken says. Worse, highly skilled people are relegated to orders-takers in a company and an industry that badly needs to move within hailing distance of cutting edge tech.
Come to think of it, theirs is a familiar predicament for those of us in corporate communication. Don’t we also find our work pigeon-holed as a tool rather than an essential component of the business? Aren’t we often under-utilized?
I’m piecing together a plan for my new IT friends that looks a lot like the re-branding I’m doing for my corporate communication team (yes, glutton for punishment). A few key elements:
- Speak THEIR language. Stop trying to make their square pegs fit into our round holes.
- Buck up our self-esteem. Our knowledge and expertise should give us a place in the conversation, but they won’t just give it to us: They don’t know what they don’t know, after all.
- Close ranks. There’s no way we’re going to be taken seriously if we don’t have our act together.
- Invest in relationships. We will win this one person and one conversation at a time.
- Borrow brilliance. There are others who work the system from the fringes. How do they do it?