This Thoughtful Thursday, instead of me musing on something, I will be giving you something to muse upon. Because I am a nice guy like that. Today, I will go over what I have learnt in my years working in I.T. The real reason I am doing this, is that being in I.T. you end up working with a lot of graduates. Guys who come right out of school and think they know everything about computers from Azure to Xim. Thats a joke, but it really happens! Also, I am not the end all and be all of all knowledge either. There is still so much I just don’t know, or will ever know.

So what have I learnt? And why should you care? Well, I, for one believe that by sharing our knowledge, we make the world a better place. Imagine if no one told another person how to make a wheel? We’d all be out there practically reinventing the wheel every singe day. What a waste of time! Also, it helps us be better at what we do. And maybe this advice, or info will help someone out there. That is why I am sharing it.

Now, this advice may come from working in I.T. but I think some of it can be applied to general life. And so without further ado, lets begin.

What I Have Learnt

Working in I.T. your job is not to close tickets. That is a side-effect of a job well done. Do not ever go to work thinking “I am going to close 10 tickets today” – that’s the wrong way of thinking and that has what has caused a lot people a lot of problems in the past.

If you’re on the help desk, or answering the phones, you may be the only person in IT that anyone ever deals with. Make sure you remember this through every interaction, every call, every computer, or project, rolled out.
Your job is to keep the business running. And you do this by making sure everyone else can do their job. Seriously – spend an hour, and sit with people. Ask them why they do it that way, or even just watch. People put up with a lot of nonsense at work because “that is how its always done”. You have the power to make someone’s computing experience go from bearable to enjoyable. Look for ways to make things better.

Do not ever settle for the status quo.

While working for a business, you should care about the functioning of the business. You are not just an I.T. person anymore, but a part of the business. Act like it. Think for a second “If someone gave me this Surface in this state, would I be happy?”, “If I got an email like this, would I know what it means and does it look like spam?”. I know, I know – work gets busy, and these 20 people all wanting something from you. But never get too busy to do a good job. Remember, it takes longer to get to 100% than 80%. Always give people the service you would be proud of. Yes, some jobs can be done quickly, and those are easy, the low hanging fruit. Some take more time and are harder, either physically or mentally. You can only work as fast as you can work. Don’t forget: you’re part of a team – use it.

There is nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know”. This for me is a big one! In my mind, this is what separates someone whos’ good with computers from a great I.T. guy. You can’t remember everything. Its impossible. People will respect you more when you can admit you don’t know stuff. But what makes you different from normal users is that you understand the blocker, and you know how to find out about that blocker. Basically, you know what to Google for. I have noticed a lot of I.T. guys I have worked with over the years simply can not say “I don’t know”. They tend to be the ones that users will actively avoid.

Practical advice time now – walk around the business. Make the time, and go see people, just pop in for a visit. Find out how people’s week has been, be sociable. This is probably the most important thing you could do. You’ll notice you will end up doing a lot of little, quick-fix jobs on your walkabout. And these little quick fixes would have been major annoyances for months, or maybe longer.

Always remember – deliver something you would be proud of. If you can speak to a person face-to-face, do it. If you can’t – then call them.
Email is the last resort.
Every job you do is worth doing, so make sure you do it to a degree that people will say “He did a great job on this”. Always be on the look out for things that can be improved, made better or easier, and then just do them. And then don’t go brag to your boss, your manager, your colleagues.

Let the happy users do it for you.

I.T. is no longer the hide behind a computer screen job. Its 90% dealing with people like you and I, who just happen to be frustrated a machine meant to improve their lives isn’t. Set your standards high, and never compromise or falter. A shortcut may get the job done, but you’ll be the one fixing it in the end.

I hope that at least some of this has helped or made you re-think how you approach your work. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter and tell me how wrong I am.