Managing the Motivation of an IT Team

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. General George S. Patton

IT staff are valuable company resources because of their unique specialist skills, knowledge and experience.

They are a challenge to lead because: they are very intelligent and highly individual; and also because they are often involved in complex projects where they may have to work in isolation using considerable delegated discretion.

Most IT specialists will tell you that they prefer to be left alone to get on with the job. Nevertheless, like everyone else they do need to be given feedback, told when they’re doing a good job, corrected when they’re not. Providing feedback is particularly difficult when a goodly proportion of their time is spent working at home – out of the normal cycle of intra-office communication and observation.

Maintaining IT staff motivation is a crucial element in the success of a project. Knowing when to delegate and how to review is a key factor in achieving motivation.

If you are to do this well, and it does need doing well, you need to very aware of your own skills and abilities. You need to identify your management style and understand:

• The theory of motivation.
• How to delegate successfully.
• How to understand yourself and others – what drives you, what drives them?
• Why values are important and how to use them.
• How to communicate effectively with your team.
• How to build on-going fruitful relationships.

I’ve blogged before about the lack of management training that we IT professionals undertake. Here is a starting point – an opportunity to develop and deploy a very valuable set of skills that will help you, your organisation and your team members.

Stuart Sawle



Banking the Green Dividend

In recent years, many organisations have reduced their costs and improved their effectiveness by rationalising their IT infrastructure:

  • Reducing the number of servers
  • Implementing load balancing
  • Deploying storage area networks and using storage more effectively
  • Reducing the number of software licences Improving resilience
  • Reducing maintenance costs.

This is, of course, to be applauded. Return on capital employed is a critical success factor for any modern data centre. Yet, these organisations often feel to realise another major achievement – gained as a result of their efficiency drive.

  • Data centre energy consumption is reduced significantly.
  • Less heat is generated.
  • Less energy is required to cool the server room.
  • The IT Carbon footprint is substantially reduced.

More and more organisations find that adopting a sustainability policy not only reduces costs, it actually increases sales! The British consumer is actively supporting those businesses that can demonstrate real and tangible Green initiatives.

The sad thing is that, for the most part, data centres don’t measure their carbon footprint. This means that they aren’t able to claim their full share of the credit when their efficiency programmes return a Green dividend.

The carbon footprint of the IT Industry is now greater than that of the global airline industry. Some 40% of the energy consumption within a typical administration complex is due to that used by the IT infrastructure.

We need to become Green aware. We need to be able to measure our carbon footprint. We need to be able to predict the improvement in greenhouse gas emissions and to justifiably claim credit for the improvements we have made.

The ISEB Foundation Certificate in Green IT is a good first step towards helping an organisation to achieve its sustainability goals.

Stuart Sawle

The value of service management

I’m often asked for examples of the return on investment that sound IT service management delivers and I’m always put on the spot to quote concrete examples.

Whatever your position in your company, like me you know that IT Service Management matters. You know that implemented correctly, the ITIL® Service Management disciplines will provide you with a stable, reliable, and cost effective environment for the provision of your IT services.

I’m sure that at some point, early in the ITIL implementation lifecycle you conducted a baseline exercise and that, as you conducted further measurements, you found real evidence of process improvement:

• better problem management resulting in fewer incidents,
• Improved change management resulting in smoother implementations and fewer post-implementation glitches,
• more comprehensive monitoring of device performance resulting in fewer hardware failures and capacity issues,
• more realistic customer expectations as a result of sound service level agreements,
• greater customer satisfaction as a result of better service level monitoring and reporting.

All of these things are real and tangible benefits of improved service management processes. All are measurable. But none of them are expressed in terms of the contribution to the profit and loss account. What’s the bottom-line effect?

I’m sure there are organisations out there that have calculated the return in this way – I’m just surprised that they are not readily available as case studies. Do you know differently?

Stuart Sawle