If I were to choose one thing to tell my younger IT professional self, it would be “know your business.” That could mean many things, but what I’m talking about is make sure you have a solid understanding of the following:

  • Expectations – make sure that what you are doing is what is wanted/expected
  • Your role – in your team, your organization, and your company
  • Your value – what you bring to the table that others appreciate
  • The numbers – any numbers about you, your role, your job, and what you deliver that others look at or that guide business decisions
  • Measurements – related to numbers; what gets measured gets done, so know the key performance indicators
  • Money – how it effects your position, your team, your organization, how budgets are decided, and what gets tracked

I have worked with too many people in my careers that have flawed thinking. A lot of it stems from not knowing the business of what they do. They could be subject matter experts at X, but still not be successful. Knowing your business helps you to see the “big picture” in a light that will help you understand what decisions are being made, why they are being made, and what decisions are likely to be made in the future when Y happens. Many IT professionals complain that management just doesn’t get it; however, perhaps a more useful approach is to ask how management is looking at things.

  • I think I'd probably tell myself to go into Law or Accountancy     emoticons_silly.png      There's always a need for someone to hide the money or get the crooks off when they get caught.  IT is a pretty thankless task.  No one ever thanks you when things are working well but they will yell and scream if even the slightest thing goes wrong (usually because they have done something stupid).

    I once had a customer yelling at me because his computer wouldn't work.  He had a next business day response but, as I was already on site for another call, I decided to see what I could do.  After the yelling I told him I'd be back tomorrow and walked out.  When I got there just before the end of the next day (fulfilling the contractual obligation) I just plugged the PC into the wall socket and walked out.  Petty I know but it did make me smile.

  • Yep, we have TWO ears and ONE mouth for a reason.  Listen first, engage brain then talk.

  • That last statement is so true. I have seen a lot of flawed thinking from both sides of the manager/employee relationship. I have also seen managers change things when the right questions were asked by employees and relevant data was provided to management.

  • First off, awesome job, mandevil​; short, sweet and to the point!  My wife would say I could do with a crash course in "Self-Editing" on occasion, but I will keep my response succinct.

    IMO, one of the best things I ever did for my IT career was get an MBA.  I say that not to boast but to encourage others to do the same or, if you don't want to or cannot get the full degree, take some MBA courses.  What I learned in those years about business in general has been absolutely priceless in my IT career.

    All too often, people want to "silo up" in their company and just "do my job"; they work just hard enough to not get fired and the employer pays them just enough so they won't quit.  When you understand the business and your role in it (and, BTW, if your leadership isn't providing that vision, go find it!  There is nothing that says you can't!), you can help create and provide value added propositions to the organization.  Sounds like buzzword bingo, I know, but small things can make a huge difference, especially when we put our egos in check, think of the greater good of the business and keep in mind the fact that if the business does well, they will be more likely (and able) to keep us around.

    "Think Win-Win" - Stephen Covey

  • I agree with both of your views - and it's important to hold to both of them. If the employee expects the boss to inform them then there is still the opportunity for misunderstanding. If the Boss expects the employee to ask then that's just poor leadership. It's important to take personal responsibility and pursue the information and the understanding so that you are sure that you know what is expected.