As an IT leader you’ve got a lot to do. As though it wasn’t enough to stay on top of your staff keeping them happy, engaged, and productive, you are also constantly working to stay on top of all of that changing technology (can anyone say “new release”?) It turns out that you have an additional task that you might not be taking the time to do: figuring out where your company is trying to get to.
Why Knowing The Goals Is Important
How many of those “corporate” emails have arrived in your inbox this week so far? You know the ones that I’m talking about: they talk about the quarterly profits, some clever words that your CEO / COO / CFO / CIO said that got quoted in some trade journal, etc. Did you take the time to read it? Probably not – your too busy doing real IT work.
It turns out that you should take the time to read these emails. The reason is because this is how the company is telling you where they are trying to go as a company. Sure you might be working shoveling coal down in the IT boiler room of the company, but you have a vested interest in where the ship is sailing to because at the very least if it hits a rock, you’ll be affected too.
The leaders of your company work for the people who own the company. This means that the company has to make money or else the leaders will be replaced. How they plan on going about making that money is what you really care about. In order to hold on to their jobs, your management needs to be successful at almost any cost. This means that their goals need to be your goals.
How To Find Out What Your Company’s Goals Are
If we can all agree that knowing what your company is trying to do is important, then we can move on to trying to answer the really big question: just how can an IT Leader go about getting your hands on this type of information? It turns out that it is both easy and hard to do.
The easy part of this is to do some reading. Depending on whether your company is a public company or is privately held, there will be either more or less written information available to you. Things like quarterly reports and annual reports, although dry at times, do make for great reading if you are an IT Leader who wants to know where your company is headed.
Now about those emails that you’ve been getting. Sure, any one of the corporate emails that we all get probably isn’t all that important by itself. However, when you take them all together they can tell you a very interesting story.
Your senior management can’t actually accomplish any of the goals that they set for the company by themselves. They need your help. I tend to look upon those corporate emails as a desperate plea for assistance by management. The tricky part is that they generally can’t come out and say that their jobs depend on you helping them accomplish the company’s goals, instead they have to use clever wording that hides their pleas.
What To Do With This Knowledge
Once you’ve done your reading, listened to any speeches that your senior management has given, and generally come to an understanding of just what the company is trying to accomplish and where they are trying to get to, the big question is what now?
In order to move your career forward, you need to actually use the information that you’ve uncovered. The trick here is that you need to use it in a visible way. As you work on IT projects and participate in IT meetings, you’d like to become known as the person who is always asking the question “how does this help us to reach our company goals?” Sure, it might get to be a bit redundant over time, but the word will get out that you actually know what the company is trying to do and this can be a great career booster.
Just keeping everyone else on track is not enough, you’ve got to do more. Specifically those high-level company goals won’t exactly translate into specific IT project actions. This means that you need to step up and help to interpret the goals into specific IT actions that people on your team need to take. Depending on the goal, the actions may relate to reducing or avoiding costs, improving efficiency, etc.
What All Of This Means For You
We all feel that we are drowning in too much information already; however, it turns out that we still have one additional job that we need to be doing. The company that we work for has goals and it turns out that IT Leaders can play a big role in seeing that these goals happen.
In order to help the company, IT Leaders need to first make sure that they understand just exactly what the company’s goals are. Next they need to make sure that they let everyone else know that the goals are important. Finally, within an IT Leader’s team, real actions need to be taken in order to translate high-level company goals into specific IT tasks.
If we can view company goals as not being a bothersome distraction, and instead start to view them as a request for assistance that only we can provide, then change can happen. Your career is tied to how successful your company is and helping the company to achieve its goals is one way to be successful.
Question for you: where would you go to learn what your company’s real goals for this year are?
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
What do you think the mood of your IT team is right now? Poor? Downright bad? If your workplace is like most businesses out there right now, your team is still reeling from all of the layoffs, hiring freezes, pay cuts, etc. If nothing else, there has been a lingering sense of dread that has been in the air for the better part of two years. What do you need to be doing?