This article is directed to technology support specialists working in enterprise computing environments within larger organizations and businesses. The goal is to produce a better work environment and better productivity outcomes.
Independent IT consultants have a lot of freedom and great potential for income. With high demand for technical services, and fees of $100 or more per hour, the earnings can be high. The more you innovate and the harder you work, the more you earn.
However, running a small business comes with some risks and overhead. Fluctuating client needs and market competition make the business too unpredictable for those seeking stability.
So, most people with technical skill would rather settle into a career with a large organization or business with benefits and where some level of job security can be expected.
Choosing a Traditional Career Path
Those working in large-scale enterprise IT support have a significantly different experience than those working as freelance consultants. Rather than competing with others in the industry, there are typically teams working together. There’s more job security in a larger organization. You don’t have to worry about a competitor coming in and taking a customer, or disruption in the industry taking market share away from you.
A problem with job security and very little competition is that employees may get too complacent. It’s not good for the enterprise, and actually not good for the employees. There are often no incentives to motivate people to innovate or work harder. Work hard, or not, you get paid the same. Innovate or not, you get paid the same. If people praise your work, or if they complain, it typically won’t impact your career too much.
That may seem like a comfortable and reassuring work environment for some people, yet over time it can erode the skills and self motivation of employees.
Win-Win Results in the Enterprise Workplace
Here are some suggestions for achieving win-win results in enterprise IT:
- Sales Minded. If you were a sales person, in a competitive market, earning on a commission basis, your attitude and actions would be shaped by those conditions. You might be more outgoing on the elevator, handing out business cards in the same way an insurance sales person or real estate agent is always looking for a potential customer. The typical corporate mindset among IT people is often just the opposite. Avoid users at all costs. Changing this mindset is essential. Go out of your way to start discussions with users. Find out if there’s anything ever slightly irritating them about their technology and proactively fix it.
- Compete. Although there’s no competition, work at your job as if there is. Compete with yourself.
- Expand. Take a piece of paper. Write down everything you’re expected to do in the circle. The things you aren’t expected to do, write outside the circle. Then draw a bigger circle. With other efficiencies in place, you’ll be able to go above and beyond.
- Gather Data. Gather data and metrics for measuring your success. Look for ways to improve and make best practices even better.
- Hospitality Industry. If you worked in a luxurious five-star hotel or upscale restaurant, you’d have a certain attitude about customer service. You’d offer someone a mint after a meal or leave one on their pillow after cleaning their room. Approach your job as if you’re working in a fine hotel. Go above and beyond with courtesy, professionalism, and the little touches that make your service delivery exceptional and memorable.
- Improve Response. Reduce response times, reduce down time, and reduce the time to resolution.
- Incentivize. Look for ways to substantially reward people at every level for exceptional work. Give people gift cards, or other in-kind rewards for making additional effort and innovating.
- Promote. Promote the organization or business you work for. It’s not just the work of the marketing department. Your efforts to build the larger enterprise will help everyone, including yourself.
- Special Fund. Situations arise when equipment is needed for a special event, or to meet a deadline. It may be an adapter, cable, power cord, or other piece of technology. Consider budgeting a certain amount of your income to a special fund you can use to purchase equipment for your employer. This can be a helpful form of micro philanthropy, and users in need will be greatly appreciative.
- Strive. Strive for customer satisfaction as if you’re attempting to grow your market share, even if you’re just responsible for the cubicle farm in accounting.
- Use Quality Tools. Most organizations have limited budgets. Purchasing decisions are often based on finding the cheapest products from the cheapest suppliers. ‘Cheap’ sometimes ends up being expensive, and inefficient. Consider purchasing the tools you need to get your job done with the greatest reliability and effectiveness. Purchase quality tools that are durable and reliable. Don’t purchase based on the lowest price, but on the highest integrity of suppliers, labor, sustainability, and responsible sourcing. Buy local when possible. This can be a powerful form of micro philanthropy. Every dollar that flows into the organization via in-kind contributions avoids the extensive cost and administrative overhead necessary for purchasing. Even something as simple as purchasing your own paper, ink, pens, and other office supplies.
- Work More. Although most corporate jobs are 8 am to 5pm, consider putting in more hours to develop documented systems for improving workflow and procedures.