I am one lucky gal. I’ve been a computer programmer for about 14 years now and my experience with working with men and women in IT has been wonderful (I know, life isn’t always peaches and puppies but this posting will focus on all of the wonderful things because there have always been more good than bad). This post will offer some insight into a few things that can be done to create an effective IT environment. These are things that have happened in IT groups I have been a part of and they really make a difference in the quality of an average IT day:
Each day as you travel to work, remind yourself of one thing: you are fortunate to have a job, just pick up any newspaper in any city in the world and you will see how worse off some people are. So no bad attitudes, walk in knowing that each day could end up being the best day of your life. If you know you cannot do this, and you’ve had a bad attitude for 20 years, it’s time you find a job where no interaction with living creatures is required. Maybe something like: go on a lone 30 year mission to mars, confine yourself to your garage to invent things, or learn animal taxidermy. Otherwise, read on!
Share what you know. If a newbie is on the way in, write up a short, one page document or email that describes who you are, what you do, what apps you support and how you can be reached for questions. This allows the newbie to reflect on you after you are briefly introduced (nervous people rarely remember names and if they have a document or email explaining who you are then they won’t forget you).
Document your application as soon as you send it to production for the first time. It can be short and sweet but is meant to help your coworkers when you are out of the office (and you when you have to update the application 10 years from now) so it needs to describe the application you just wrote (what it does, who the clients are, where the application resides, where the code is, what language the code is written in, any passwords and any database information if it relies on a database). Consider your documentation equally as important as the application itself.
Provide a quite space for uninterrupted thought. Plopping programmers down in cubes in the middle of the phones sales team isn’t going to work, there are too many people talking. Eventually many folks learn to drown out background noise but until this skill is mastered, money is lost. If you have no choice in location, then make sure employees have noise cancelling headsets or try out working from home a few days a week.
Provide clear direction to clients. They have their own job to do, don’t assume they know how IT works. Look at it like this: I am a computer programmer, if you put a tax form in front of me I go blind, I have no idea what to do. Same goes for clients, if they tell you they need an application built then give them some direction. Sit down and work with them face to face to hash out requirements, then give them a list of the basic application life cycle so they have an idea of what to expect and when.
Say thank you, everyone likes to hear it.
Avoid bashing someone else’s work in a group setting. By doing something like, you risk giving the impression of egotism, ignorance and paranoia to those on the receiving end. If you don’t like the way something is done, focus on a positive delivery by offering suggestions instead of demanding your ego be petted like a soft kitty on a rainy day.
Get your home life in order. Home is your only escape from an often brutal world. If your home life is not a safe, pleasant escape from the world, then it’s time to make a change – it won’t be easy but it’s the most important thing to do. Your home life needs to be solid before you can be happy doing anything outside of your home.