The Business-Technology Weave

May 28 2010   1:27PM GMT

WorkFors: Those to Whom you Report

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


We’ve discussed WorkOns and WorkWiths – let’s wrap this series up with the WorkFors class. 


These are the folks who “work on” you – the IT leaderand include any entity or individual who has sway over IT-business matters.  These are your direct supervision, senior management, your governance committee members, your board, and other senior players who have influence.  It also includes clients, members, and customers.  For your organization, it may include regulatory bodies or government agencies.  But the steadiest and most influential WorkFor interactions will be with those superiors in the organization itself.


For the IT leader, you must embrace the fact that many, if not most, of these people are not particularly interested in information technology.  Even when they are, they don’t have time for a lot of details.  They are not oriented to details – at least in a situational sense.  They don’t have time for details – they have people working for them that attend to those.  You for instance. 


WorkFors are big-picture players, and are focused on results.  They’ll want to hear about solutions, not problems.  They want to hear about progress.  They want to hear about productivity and efficiency.  They want to hear about success.  Keep in mind that anyone you speak to in this group, no matter how highly placed, has to report to someone too.  Their burden for delivering success is in an arena of stress that is likely greater than yours. 


In order for you to succeed, you must align your resources and methods so that you deliver consistent success to this group.  If you’re escalating problems to the WorkFors, you have not done your job effectively at the WorkWith and WorkOn levels.  You have not established your sanctions, sponsorships, and you likely have failed to make the sale (in terms of cooperation, teamplay, etc.).  Perhaps you’ve exceeded the limits of your lead.  Remember this:  If you start to sense yourself as tipping toward a “problem reporting” stance when engaging with the WorkFors, as opposed to a “success reporting” and summary style of communication, you must make immediate adjustment.  A qualified exception is your interaction with your direct supervision.  Here, you’ll iron out problems and strategies.  But even here, you must present solutions – you must have a positive answer for moving business forward. 


As you may suspect, TechnoShines can be rare in this group.  There is an overwhelming majority of TechoFinds here, and a sizable proportion of TechnoBinds.  The heavy proportion of TechnoFinds in this group works to an IT leader’s advantage, and also to any Business manager when interacting and discussing the Weave.  That’s because WorkFors rely on your knowledge and the strength of your position to pilot the organization into the future.  Once you’ve established a sound reputation with this group based on solid performance and trust, you should find very rewarding relationships.


It should be a rare situation where you go to this group to lobby for relief – but if you feel you must, or if you have a special relationship at this level whereby someone specifically wants to be kept apprised in a more detailed fashion than is usual, you must yet remember your audience.  Keep things very focused, very positive (even when reporting problems), and make certain you pose valid solutions to problems in a positive way.  Your reputation should be such that you are seen as the facilitator to progress.  Nothing is personal, everything is business.  Nothing is personal, everything is business.  It matters not how some others engage – this is your engagement, and this will be your reputation’s enhancement of your credibility. 


Those that facilitate progress will ultimately cook to the top, regardless of temporary setbacks or small, inconsequential, battles lost.  Keep that larger picture in mind when talking to the big-picture people.

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