IT Managers Need To Know: When Is A Fight More Than A Fight?

Employee fights can impact your team's customers
Employee fights can impact your team’s customers
Image Credit: Jim Monk

Let’s face it: not everyone on your team is always going to get along with everyone else on their team. As an IT manager it is your job to keep an eye on things and to make sure that things don’t get out of hand. However, you can’t be everywhere all the time. What this means is that there is the very real chance that when you’re not around, various members of your team may be behaving badly. When this happens, your team’s customers may see it and, research shows, this could come back to haunt you.

What The Studies Show

Every IT team has a group of customers. They may be actual customers who buy your products or they may simply be other internal departments. No matter. If your team’s customers are unlucky enough to witness two or more members of your team being disrespectful to each other, then you’re going to have a problem on your hands. The disrespect that is being shown can be shown in a number of different ways. It could be as simple as using bad words or it could be more complex such as criticizing how one employee is doing something.

When one of your team’s customers witnesses this kind of behavior, they become mad. But it’s more than that. Not only do they become mad, but they then also start to search for ways to punish you and your team. The researchers say that this is done because of your customer’s personal moral beliefs regarding how they think that people should be treated. This has less to do with your team’s customer’s experience and more to do with what they believed to be unfair treatment of one or more of your team members.

The researchers who have been studying how customers react to seeing members of a team being mistreated have made a number of different discoveries. One thing that quickly came to the surface is that when a customer saw this type of incident, they were very quick to tell others about what they had seen. Additionally, half of the people who were surveyed said that they would be less willing to interact with the team that had displayed this kind of behavior. People in the survey stated that they didn’t want to see members of the team getting yelled at by anyone. Getting talked to in private was better; however, even that cause them to want to punish the team and the IT manager.

What You Need To Know

As an IT manager, clearly you have a situation on your hands. Of course you can’t be everywhere and you can’t step in every time one of your team members starts to pick a fight with another team member in front of a customer. Instead, you’re going to have to get creative. What you are really going to want to do is to find a way to nip this problem in the bud.

One of the big problems is that if hostility exists within your team, one way or another it will eventually trickle out to your team’s customers. Since you can’t monitor every interaction that your team is going to have with your customers, this means that you’ve got to change the way the members of your team choose to interact with each other. As always, this is going to call for some creativity on your part.

You are going to have to use your IT manager skills to create a workplace culture in which respect for each member of your team is valued. You are going to have to make sure that each member of your team understands the importance of being hospital to both the team’s customers and their fellow team members. What you are going to have to teach your team is that when they become angry with each other, their actions can cause ramifications that they simply can’t control.

What All Of This Means For You

In order for your team to be successful, they are going to have to find ways to work together. Research has shown that when team members are fighting or not getting along in front of customers, those customers tend to start to talk badly about the team and will look to minimize their interaction with the team.

Research has shown that when a customer witnesses a bad interaction between two or more team members, the customer will start to think badly of you and your team. They may also start to look for ways to minimize their interaction with your team. What you are going to want to do as an IT manager is to create a culture of respect that exists between everyone on your team.

No, none of this is going to be easy to do. However, you need to look at the flip side. If your team members squabble in front of your customers, then real damage will be done and it is going to be very hard for you to repair the damage that has been done.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How can you monitor how the members of your team are interacting?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

What would you do if your company’s electronic network defenses were breached by outsiders? We spend a lot of time and effort and use our IT manager skills as part of every project that our teams implement in order to make sure that things like this don’t happen. However, there is always the possibility that the bad guys are going to find a way in. We need to spend some time thinking about just exactly what we would do if that would happen. Our IT manager training tells us that an important part of that planning includes identifying who we might contact and what we would expect them to do for us.