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Listen Up: Your IT Team Needs to Talk

TEKsystems®, a leading provider of IT staffing solutions IT talent management expertise and IT services, recently surveyed 2,379 IT professionals for its quarterly IT Professional Perspectives Survey. TEKsystems uses insights discovered through this survey to help clients improve how they attract, develop and retain their IT workforce.

Forward-thinking companies know that successful IT initiatives involve more than simply placing IT professionals in front of a computer and yelling go. Great IT happens when leaders listen to what their line-level employees—the doers—have to say. The more leaders understand the line-level perspective, and can harness it when designing their IT initiatives, the greater the probability that their IT initiatives will be a success.

We surveyed 2,379 IT professionals about their relationships with their leaders—and what we learned was surprising. We discovered that while the majority of IT workers believe their role is critical to their company’s strategy, only a little more than half feel valued by their organizations. What’s the disconnect? And how can businesses tap into their IT talent to push their business initiatives forward?

80 percent of IT workers believe their roles are critical to their firms’ strategy.
55 percent of IT workers believe their organization feels the same.

Are You Tapping into Your IT Team?

To be a competitive player in today’s marketplace, you need great IT. But many of today’s business leaders aren’t tapping into, or nurturing, the IT talent they have. Our survey shows that while nearly 80 percent of the IT workers we surveyed believe their role is critical to their firms’ strategy, only 55 percent believe their organization feels the same. To resolve this disconnect, you need to listen to your line. Listening to your line-level employees will help you gain insight into key pitfalls in program plans—and create innovative opportunities to improve how IT gets done. The end result? You’ll save time, money and increase ROI.

86 percent of IT workers believe their leadership could benefit from their feedback on company-wide initiatives.
53 percent of IT workers believe their leaders are not listening to them.

Reap the Rewards of Engaged Employees

An unappreciated worker is a disengaged worker—and disengaged workers cost U.S. businesses more than $300 billion a year. Engaged employees feel appreciated and listened to, are productive, make more money for their companies and create an environment where people have a long-term commitment to quality and growth. Give your IT team a sense of organizational purpose, and you’ll create an environment where IT professionals want to work. Not only will work get done smarter, you’ll ultimately increase client satisfaction, boost productivity and surpass the competition. Here’s how to jumpstart deepening your relationship with your IT doers:

  • Keep the Line Informed. Although 69 percent of IT professionals report that leadership connects with them on a daily or weekly basis, only 52 percent rate their leadership’s ability to keep them informed and plugged into company strategy as excellent or very good. Giving your IT workers a connection to your overall business strategy will increase their engagement and ensure IT initiatives are executed with the big picture in mind. It’s critical to ensure that each employee knows exactly how his or her role contributes to the company’s vision and business targets. Tie this information into job descriptions and share it with your employees. Where possible, establish performance metrics that help to demonstrate each employee’s contribution and regularly celebrate progress toward higher levels of performance. Employees who understand the difference they make feel more committed and are able to channel their creativity into helping the business achieve its vision and goals.
  • Ask for Feedback. We believe that great results come from ideas that are supported from the top, and are based on input from the line level. Unfortunately, while 86 percent of the IT professionals we surveyed believe their leadership could benefit from their feedback on companywide initiatives, only 47 percent report that their leaders are listening. Remember, your line-level employees have a ground-level view of what’s really going on in departments across your company. Since they’re the ones that actually execute plans, they know which pitfalls could get in the way of new implementation and which obstacles could harm the rate of user adoption. However, they may not always proactively provide their insights if they don’t know you’re interested in hearing their point of view. By asking them for feedback on your plans, you’ll tap into their expertise and can avoid making costly mistakes. You’ll also make your line level feel more appreciated and engaged.
  • Listen to the Line. Did you know that 71 percent of the IT professionals we surveyed believe that, compared to leadership, line-level employees come up with ideas that are more likely to work in practice? After all, your line-level employees have an up close and personal perspective on how to get work done and on what does and doesn’t work. By tapping into their insights, you’ll discover how to do more with less, improve productivity and boost customer satisfaction. So be sure to leverage your IT team’s knowledge and expertise the next time your organization rolls out a company wide IT initiative. Solicit their input during the planning stages, and be sure to let them know what you’re going to do as a result of their feedback. You don’t have to implement every suggestion they throw your way. But, to make them feel listened to, it’s important to provide follow-up on the ideas they took the time to formulate and share.
  • Select Managers with Care. Seventy-two percent of IT professionals rate the majority of managers they’ve had in their careers as “poor.” And 55 percent don’t believe their managers help them achieve their professional goals. This is unfortunate, because managers are a critical connection between the strategy and operations—in fact, they’re key to how that strategy is executed. That’s why organizations need to choose managers who know how to enlist the personal commitment of their teams. Evaluate potential managers in terms of the buy-in they’ve shown the ability to create around new ideas. Look for people that can not only take action, but who are applauded for their listening skills. Also, seek out employees who really seem to care about their fellow workers—and who take the time to get to know them on a personal level. Many of these skills are difficult to teach. But, if you recognize and reward employees who regularly demonstrate these skills, you will significantly impact the tone and performance of your organization for the better.
  • Make Sure Your Managers Serve Down, Not Just Up. Only 56 percent of the IT professionals we surveyed indicate their leader seeks out and/ or listens to the team’s ideas. And 64 percent say their leader would benefit from more direct feedback from his/her team. That means that the majority of managers aren’t tapping into ideas that could grow your business and save your company money. Great managers know the importance of getting their team’s feedback on companywide initiatives—and are genuinely interested in what they have to say. Being approachable when a team member has an idea, and relaying that good idea to the top, is the mark of a manager who is listening to the line. Start to ask your managers what their teams think about various initiatives they are driving. Show an interest in their team’s perspective and they, more than likely, will follow your lead.
71 percent of IT workers believe that, compared to leadership, line-level employees come up with ideas that are more likely to work in practice.
64 percent of IT workers say their managers would benefit from their feedback.
Only 56 percent of IT workers say their managers listen to their ideas.

Conclusion

Your IT professionals want to help make your company great. That’s why we encourage you to seek out and listen to what they have to say. Organizations that seek out and listen to the perspective of their line-level IT employees are able to understand their core problems better, develop more realistic change strategies and formulate superior approaches to IT initiative execution. What’s more, they ensure that they stay at the forefront of IT innovation, retain institutional knowledge and attract the best and brightest in IT.

About TEKsystems®

People are at the heart of every successful business initiative. At TEKsystems, we understand people. Every year we deploy over 80,000 IT professionals at 6,000 client sites across North America, Europe and Asia. Our deep insights into IT human capital management enable us to help our clients achieve their business goals – while optimizing their IT workforce strategies. We provide IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise and IT services to help our clients plan, build and run their critical business initiatives. Through our range of quality-focused delivery models, we meet our clients where they are, and take them where they want to go, the way they want to get there.

TEKsystems. Our people make IT possible.