What do you think of when you think about your IT colleagues? Most likely a nerdy stereotype pops in your mind with thick framed glasses, a pocket protector, a severe inability to make eye contact, and a lack of social skills. Admittedly, I have witnessed some of these stereotypes in some tech professionals, but I am here to tell you that there is much more to their personalities than meets the eyes. Understanding these unique personalities will open up a fresh perspective on how to work with and utilize your IT team’s skills.
The first wall I would like to break down is the sometimes awkward lack of eye contact. Some IT folks do suffer from social anxiety and have a hard time making eye contact. This isn’t always the case though. A lot of time, this lack of eye contact is simply due to that problem solver brain working furiously to understand the problems you’re explaining to them and then working up a solution in their heads. I do that quite often myself and have to make a conscious effort to make eye contact. Don’t assume they’re afraid to talk to you, because this may not be the case. It could be that they’re trying to work out your issue as you’re explaining it to them.
IT professionals are often deemed socially awkward. This is an understandable observation. The IT world is full of people who are slightly introverted. This simply means they like to do their work with less oversight than most. This type of individual would not thrive in a micromanaged environment, but will thrive when you simply point them toward the work and let them have at it.
Many IT professionals are teaming with confidence in their abilities. Some may view this as blind arrogance and sometimes that is the truth, but ultimately that confidence is an attribute that can be a valuable asset to any organization. Confidence pairs nicely with project buy-in. It has been my experience that 99 out of 100 tasks a tech person performs will be routine and your tech professional will probably lack much interest in these tasks. So why is it important that you get buy-in from the tech professional? That 1 task out of 100 sparks the IT person’s interest and you will see that they attack that task like a dog with a bone. They will work longer hours without being asked and drive that task to completion with pleasure. Simply put, I suggest you take the time to explain the more important tasks and ensure they understand the impact it will have on the organization.
Our friends in the IT community generally enjoy what they do for a living. If they didn’t, then they would have found it a daunting task getting through school and learning the skills needed to perform. Everyone is different and assuming that all IT professionals fall in the same characteristic traits listed above would be naïve, so the best way to find out about your IT colleagues is to simply go talk to them. Keep in mind that these are the folks you call when there is a problem that needs solving and they usually have an understanding of most parts of your organization. I think you’ll find that what they are teaming with are great ideas about how to solve your tech problems and how to improve your organization on many levels.