Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Third Golden Rule

Anyone who has ever been a member of my staff will tell you to get along with me you only need to adhere to my two golden rules.  These are very simple, straightforward and quite reasonable. Nothing too complicated to remember or follow, and they have served me well for many years.

First, when something, anything goes wrong I always want to be the first to know. Phone me, text me, send a telegram or message on a carrier pigeon. There is nothing worse for me than to hear about a systems related issue from someone outside of my department. I ask my staff to advise me as soon as they know something has gone awry. They have no fear or reprisal, even if they inadvertently did something to cause the problem. My focus is always on understanding what happened, fixing it and then devising a means of ensuring it can never happen again. The only fatal mistake you can make is trying to hide a problem from me.

Second, don't get in the way of the business. Often we can lose sight of the fact that while technology is important to the business, it should rarely be considered a higher priority. We can easily get caught up in the need to reboot a server or upgrade a piece of software and overlook the impact it will have on the business -- and its ability to generate the revenue that pays all of our salaries. So whatever we are doing, no matter how "critical" we think it may be, we should always be certain it will not somehow adversely affect the operations of the company. Usually this is just a matter of careful testing, coordination and scheduling.

Recently, I decided to add a third golden rule. Your opinion matters. It struck me that I embrace the concept that the entire department is a team working together towards common goals. No one works for me. Everyone works with me. I may be the senior manager and head of the department, but I don't want to be surrounded by lemmings who will follow me happily as I lead them over the cliff. As the saying goes, the buck stops here, and, yes, I will likely have the final say. But that should never inhibit anyone from expressing their view. Any sound, fact-based argument can and should be put forth respectfully, and I assure you I will listen.

These rules have always been key to my success as a manager. Follow them and we will be golden.

Captain Joe

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