The Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for IT Pros

New year’s resolutions are never easy to keep. Whether you plan to exercise every morning, start eating better, or want to quit a bad habit, the struggle is real and we often find ourselves falling back on the old saying: “there’s always next year.” So in the interest of keeping the goals attainable, here are the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions any IT pro can (and should) keep:

 

  1. Improve your listening skills

Let’s be honest, we IT’ers aren’t known for our people skills. We’re engineers and our focus is most often on technical problem-solving, not reading between the lines and deciphering what someone “really means.” But most often, we do our jobs better when we listen first, then dive into a problem. Listening skills should be a big part of what we do, and we can do it better.

 

  1. Don’t be arrogant

It’s easy to dismiss a non-IT person’s ideas and suggestions, especially when they aren’t technically possible. The thing is, sometimes good ideas come from unexpected places and we may miss them if we’re being dismissive and aloof. You never know. That lady in accounting may have that spark of genius you’re looking for. You just have to be open to it.

 

  1. Don’t use acronyms

Unless you’re surrounded by techies who speak in acronyms all day, it’s a good idea to avoid them in most conversations. They tend to get in the way of clear communication.

 

  1. Explore new technologies

You say your company doesn’t have the budget for new technologies that could be beneficial? There’s no reason let this stop you from trying new things. There are plenty of vendors out there willing to give you a test drive, even if you don’t plan on buying right away.

 

  1. Develop a system maintenance strategy

System maintenance often consumes a large amount of time for many IT departments. With the proper plan in place for quickly fixing problems and maintaining productivity, you can free up more time to work on new projects.

 

  1. Go green(er)

You can reduce your office’s carbon footprint by reducing the number of physical servers and storage devices onsite and replacing them with virtual alternatives.

 

  1. Commit to training and development

With shrinking budgets across the board, many companies don’t see the bottom-line benefits of continued education. But with so many new technologies evolving day after day, your IT department can hardly afford to be left behind. Talk to your company about investing in technology education and career growth paths. This encourages valuable IT staff to be the best they can be and stay with the company for the long haul.

 

  1. Focus on Quality Assurance (QA)

Quality assurance is often neglected in IT. In the interest of ensuring that an application fits with the business process it’s being inserted into, as well as measuring the user-friendliness of an application, it’s important to get the buy-in of the end users.

 

  1. Keep your disaster recovery plan up to date

A poor disaster recovery effort can harm a company’s reputation for years. It can also effect the jobs and careers of those whose job it is to manage disasters when they occur. Make sure you’re prepared when, not if, it happens.

 

  1. Manage data retention

As time goes by, a company collects more and more data, and not all of it is useful. Although it can be a dreaded task, make it a point to revisit your corporate data retention policies at least once a year.

10 Things IT Pros Should Know About Working with People

A lot of people think that working in IT means you only work with machines and rarely interact with the living. Although we can think of a few IT pros who wish this was the case, the truth is, interacting with other people is a big part of the job.

Here are 10 things even the most introverted IT professionals should know about working with people:

  1. People just want to get their work done.

We’ve all been there. A request comes in from a panicked co-worker, short on time and patience, with no concern for your busy schedule. Somehow, they expect their tech problem to be your top priority. As frustrating as this can be, just remember that every time they hit a roadblock, they can’t do their job. And when they can’t do their job, management isn’t happy with them. And when management isn’t happy with them, they freak out. So remember, it may sound like they’re blaming you, but in reality, they’re looking to you to be their hero. Just take a deep breath, put on your cape, and do what you do. They’ll be grateful in the end.

 

  1. People respect you. They really do.

Sticking with the scenario above, it may seem as if your co-workers only see you as a tool whose sole purpose is to fix their problems so they can get back to “the real work.” The truth is, they can’t do what you do, and they know it. That’s why you’re there. Of course, there’s no need to be a jerk about it. You probably can’t do what they do either. So just remember, the workplace should be about mutual respect. After all, you’re all on the same team.

 

  1. Your co-workers don’t understand how technology works.

It may sound ridiculous that adults in 2018 wouldn’t understand technology, but remember, you probably don’t fully understand how accounts receivable works either. It’s just not what they do. And the truth is, some people actually fear it. That’s why you get panicked phone calls about simple things. Rather than get frustrated with them, it may be helpful to try to educate the technophobes in your company. That’s a long-term strategy that helps everyone.

 

  1. Everyone wants the “easy fix.”

Whether it’s technology or just washing dishes, everyone wants everything done quickly, with minimal hassle. It’s human nature. Of course, that’s not always possible. It’s up to you educate your co-workers and set up reasonable expectations when the “easy fix” they’re looking for just isn’t in the cards.

 

  1. Everyone genuinely wants to be nice. Seriously.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, everyone wants to be thought of as kind, generous, and honest. Treat people with courtesy and they will return it. Treat people rudely, or make the technophobes feel stupid, and well, you brought that on yourself.

 

  1. Sometimes people just need to vent.

As an IT pro, you’re probably not a trained therapist, but some people will talk to you like you are. As you sit at their desk, troubleshooting the tech, they’re busy spilling their guts. When this happens, it’s important to do what we discussed above and be courteous. Sometimes, people just need to vent. Let them.

 

  1. People need their privacy.

Many companies don’t get this one. They stick their employees in cubicle farms and monitor their online activity all day, every day. And IT people have access to everything. You are on the front line of this trustless culture. So although there are exceptions to every rule, you don’t always have to be the privacy police. People need to feel like they’re trusted at work. Whenever possible, let them have their secrets.

 

  1. People need to interact.

With all the monitoring and social condemnation that goes on in the workplace, employees can start to feel oppressed and alone. Sometimes, you’re the only person they get to talk to during the day. Be nice.

 

  1. People like to laugh.

Take two IT pros. One is efficient and gets the job done, but with minimal interaction. The other is light-hearted and turns a stressful day into a friendly “I can fix-it” moment. Which one do you think has an easier time at work? The trick to getting someone on your good side? Make them laugh. Simple as that.

 

  1. Good ideas can come from anyone.

That lady in accounting may not know the command to renew her DHCP lease, but she may have a good suggestion or two about other IT related issues. You never know. Be open to everyone’s ideas. You’re not alone out there.