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Winning by Turning Me into We

Level 13

In previous posts, I've talked about the importance of having a network of trusted advisors. I've also discussed the importance of honing your DART-SOAR skills. Now I'd like us to explore one of those soft and cloudy topics that every IT professional deals with, but is reluctant to address directly. And that is the business of breaking down personal silos of inefficiency, particularly as it pertains to IT knowledge and expertise.

As an IT professional, I tend to put all the pressure of knowing and doing everything on myself, aka Team Me. I've been rewarded for this behavior, but it has also proven to be ineffective at times. This is because the incentives could influence me to not seek help from anyone outside the sphere of me.

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The majority of my struggle was trust-related. The thought that discussing something I knew nothing or little about would be a sign of weakness. Oh, how naïve my green, professional self was. This modus operandi did harm to me, my team, and my organization because its inefficiencies created friction where there didn’t need to be any.

It wasn’t until I turned Me into We that I started truly owning IT. By believing in its core tenet and putting it into practice, it opened doors to new communities, industry friends, and opportunities. I was breaking down silos by overcoming the restrictions that I placed on myself. I was breaking my mold, learning cool new stuff, and making meaningful connections with colleagues who eventually became friends.

It reminds me of my WoW days. I loved playing a rogue and being able to pick off opponents in PvP Battlegrounds. But I had to pick my battles, because though I could DPS the life out of you, I didn’t have the skills to self-heal over time, or tank for very long. So engagements had to be fast and furious. It wasn't until I started running in a team with two druids (a tank and a healer), that we could really start to own our PvP competition. My PvP teammates also played rogues and shared their tips and tricks, which included Rogue communities with game play strategies. As a result, I really learned how to optimize my DPS and my other unique set of skills toward any given goal.

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Do you stand on the IT front and try to win alone? Have you found winning more gratifying when you win as a team? Let me know in the comment section below.

25 Comments
MVP
MVP

The team approach will be better for you professionally in that it shows you are willing to be a team player. It shows that you don't work in a personal silo and likely are more apt to think of and support the companies long term goals..in my opinion.  Yes it is great to be able to attack a huge task and own it.  But the personal cost in time, effort, and energy can delay your recovery before the next one...which can impact our next big task.  You'll win more often and more consistently as a team.

Level 14

I learned this lesson early on and like you colleagues became friends....

As time passed I became a manager,  I quickly realized that teamwork was the only way to guarantee success. So I heavily promote it...

Rules for my teams

1. Check your ego at the door.

2. You don't have to love each other or go out drinking together.. but you have to work together.

3. Teamwork is like making a cake, there are many ingredients, flavors and finishes.... You are one of those things.

4. I (as the team leader) never ask you to do something I haven't done or would not do my self!

5. Have fun... life is short and people from the user community never call us to ask what we are doing for lunch.... Inside humor is the best.

Level 20

The old school mentality of doing everything yourself and trying to protect your little fiefdom doesn't work well anymore... you have to work together as a team.

Level 12

I agree whole-heartedly with this concept.  It's even worse when a manager or leader tries to maintain the Team Me approach.  A lone wolf can be challenging enough, but when that lone wolf has organizational/operational responsibility to a team, the challenges increase significantly.  One of the most difficult aspects of leadership is ignoring that "do it myself" inner voice and trusting someone else to get things done.  Sometimes they'll fail, but more often than not things will get done as they should.  I wish more leaders would remember that they are in fact part of the team, not the owner or task-master or drill sergeant.  Even if they are responsible from an organizational perspective, the best leaders should act like they're part of the team, sharing the workload when possible, and encouraging the team members from alongside, rather than on high.

Level 13

I personally love teamwork and collaboration.  So much brainstorming and so many good ideas come out of different perspectives.  But you do have to have the time, team willingness and support for it.

Level 20

Don't always have the time... sometimes unless the problem is bad enough no one can stop what they're doing long enough to do that team effort.

Level 14

No man (Woman) is an island.  A good team will be greater than the sum of its parts.  There is an energy that develops with in the team

makes each person better,

maniel02​​, prone

goodzhere​​, holding blaster

tcbene​​, the Jester

network defender, aka fire marshal Tregg

Thackman.jpg

It's 100% true.  Start trusting others, and getting them to trust you.  Behave honestly and with positive ethics and treat that trust as precious.  Do the right thing, always.

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Level 14

Well put!!!

I do, in a sense, stand alone... and that is because I am a team of one. I am resistor corporate monitoring, DR/BCP, and Availability. Also, my 10+ years background of Enterprise IT is unique in my company's IT. I 've fought a lot of uphill battles convincing other groups to improve their processes and take an "Enterprise IT" approach. I've come off as a know-it-all more than once. The rub is: I do not have admin rights nor am I technical. I rely on the groups I am trying to convince. So I am alone... but I need others help to survive.

MVP
MVP

I believe in the 'we' mentality and prefer it over an 'I' mentality. But the reality unfortunately is that sometimes if I don't do it myself, it won't get done right. I wish we could all work at the same high standards I set for myself but unfortunately that's not the case. Some are happy to just whack something in and as long as it (half) works, then happy days. Who cares about the standards that have been set.

And the worst part is that someone else always has to clean up the mess.

Level 13

Kong Yang, Geek of words *and* action

tweet.pngPerhaps some of you noticed my humble-grumble-brag tweet about working on the demo PCs for Cisco Live over the weekend. Yes, I should delegate this task to IT, and one of these days someone will force me to do it, but I'm just a bit picky about how they're configured. Tradeshows are moon landings- if you're not 100% when the crates are popped open, you're 100-{ready percent} hosed.  Proper hosed in front of thousands of you all, the Twitterati, and my new boss.

But the main reason for this annual config-a-thon is we always have so much more to show than the year before.  This year as you might have noticed, we have a little thing called NPM12. (And again if you haven't upgraded you should, now- check out the NPM forum for confirmation from users).

So technically, I don't have to do this anymore, but I want the booth perfect and perhaps also miss hardware, occasionally.  But it is something of a chore and with everything else in this short week, I need to do a quick 2nd pass on all 14 machines to make sure they are good to go and I didn't skip anything in my hurry Saturday.  Enter, as always, Kong!


image1.JPGWhen I rolled in at 8:30, Kong had already walked thought config crib notes I posted to the Geek Slack channel. I didn't ask, he just did it. He's long been a proponent of IT success based on cohesive teamwork and always quick to dive into our Head Geek team's crazy queue of opportunities and help split out work.

But rolling up your helpdesk sleeves and playing the USB can't be inserted correctly the first time game on a bunch of micro PCs is something different. Many senior technologists, especially those who've had a chance to speak at events and who are involved with product strategy, are reluctant to "go back" to something like machine configuration and QA.  Kong is not that way.

Turning Me into We is based on a willingness to assist and to delegate, or even just stop being a hero and ask for help.  Sometimes this means you'll be doing something an intern would really feel successful completing, but you just to be the most handy in the moment. You're flexibility is your calling card of IT Awesomeness beyond a network, an app technology or a role.  It's a Good Thing.  And Kong is very Good indeed.

Level 10

Awwww, such good teammates!

Level 13

I used to have a manager that would jump in and help with intern/work study tasks.  Every college semester when we would re-image all the classroom PCs, we would gather anyone that was available and do the simple task of verifying the image process, clicking next when necessary.  Several of us not usually involved in the imaging process would also jump in.  It was all about making sure the project was done and was 100% working by the first day of service, in this case the first class of a new semester.  It was nice that this manager understood the necessity and was ready to jump in.  He often was the first to volunteer for this.

Level 11

Team WE for the win every time!

Level 17

Teamwork is a must for any properly working Team.

Level 17

I always find it a joy when everything works but monitoring....

Level 17

I shouldn't have brought this up actually.... was just given 2 new 4510's to add to our system.

* Snmp Groups Exist, but no users, hahaha - there is even a group with one of the user names we use.

* ACL's do not allow for communication of our new Orion system (I can't even get a 'Hello Switch' message to these two new anomalies)

- Scripted Quick Fix -

1. Blow out security on VTY's

2. Rebuild the ACL's (inclusive of my new SW Setup), adding security back to VTY's

3. remove the un needed 'usernamed' SNMP Group

4. Add SNMP Users to their proper SNMP Group

5. Add Logging and Trap for the new SW Setup

6. Click TEST

7. Say 'BOOM!' real loud so everyone in your office knows you just fixed something.

7a.  Look around for those confused by your 'BOOM', that are watching their email for that Alert you may have just triggered.  (j/k)

Level 14

Love it!

If the shoe fits you have to have team, unless you are an army of one.   Where I am I wear many hats, Sr Management, Director, and admin.  I have an SAP admin that works for me and a PLC programmer that consults with us.  A majority of the work load falls back on me.   Teamwork is absolutely important and I have to train my users to be part of my team.   That however can lead to issues when you talk skills and talent and needing to get the job done. 

I can go outside and get contractors, I have the Cisco skills i need on speed-dial.  My motto is however, I win, period.  It has to be, but I do prefer a team win over a self win.   As a manager and leader I have grown to know the benefits of the team win.  Its better for the big picture.  But when there is no team, I have to win, its the only option.

We face so many challenges in this crazy world.  having a community to fall on is key to smaller IT shops making it and keeping it moving forward.

Do you have opportunity for cross training someone else, so the business can go on if you were sick or had an accident?  Can you have an interruption-free vacation?

I'm feeling some sorry going your way, for being overloaded and understaffed.  Is it all burn out and no stress-less time for you?

Level 13

It takes teamwork.  "I did not fix it."  "We fixed it"

MVP
MVP

My favourite is just turning one of these on at my desk. The fan noise gets everyone's attention

Level 21

I agree with the sentiment of this post 110%.  With that being said, I think all too often the problem is the reward system still promotes the hoarding of knowledge.  How many times have you watched the "hero" behavior rewarded?  Some problem occurs and one person comes to the rescue and saves the day by solving the problem on his own!  By rewarding and promoting this behavior you are inadvertently promoting the hoarding of knowledge as that is what allows the Hero to exist.  To change behavior we need to change what it is we reward. 

Level 14

Sometimes that backfires.  By being go to guy, every stinking time.

About the Author
Mo Bacon Mo Shakin' Mo Money Makin'! vHead Geek. Inventor. So Say SMEs. vExpert. Cisco Champion. Child please. The separation is in the preparation.