11 Jul Taking your work home
What are you doing to become a better husband or wife, daughter or son, sister or brother?
No, I’m not trying to turn my e-mail into a confessional. I’ve just been thinking about the IT/business relationship. When I talk to folks who have been making that relationship work, it’s funny how frequently the conversation turns to communication, mutual understanding, and acceptance. Sounds like some idealized family.
“Oh great!” you’re thinking. “Now you want me to get yelled at by some executive for forgetting to take out the garbage!” Well, not exactly. We all know that no personal relationship measures up to some perfect ideal and that’s the point. We make do in our personnel relationships. We cut people some slack, or not. Sometimes we go quiet. Sometimes we just hang and laugh like loons. We celebrate and we grieve. We spend time together, good times and bad times. And if we’re really lucky, sometimes it’s pure magic.
We always hear that we should draw a clear distinction between personal relationships and business relationships, which is probably sensible. However, I can’t help but wonder whether what we know about personal relationships might be useful in improving our IT/business relationships. I’m just guessing that the relationship things we’ve gotten good at outside of business have some reflection at the office, and that the things we’re not so hot at… Well, you get the picture.
In this age where we argue out the most important issues in sound bites on T-shirts and bumper stickers, one can reasonably be nervous about a call to mix the personal and the professional. In the public sphere, we seem to have neither the patience nor the tolerance required to work through differences in perspective to achieve real communication.
Bringing the idiosyncrasies of our individual personal lives into that environment just doesn’t seem like a good idea, but that’s not what I’m suggesting. What I’m suggesting is to think about what has worked in your most important relationships and examine how that might be applied to your professional relationships. Likewise, you might want to think about times you wished you’d done something different and avoid bringing that same behavior into the workplace.
Seems straightforward enough, but if we’re focused on processes and technology, it’s easy to forget that people are people first and professionals second. Our perspectives on relationships are shaped a long time before we get our first job, first degree, or first career.
Did you come from a family that had uproarious suppertime conversations with no question too trivial for full-throated debate? Is that exactly the behavior you want to carry into a meeting with your boss’s boss? Was you family too polite to notice real problems? Is that how you want to respond the next time your asked you opinion on how things might be improved at work?
What we learn in our personal relationships, we will carry into the work place unless we make a conscious effort to understand the differences between work and home and respond appropriately.
Not a lot of people chose IT as a career because the relationship opportunities are so great. But the world doesn’t stand still. While the technology may have attracted us, relationships are now a key survive and thrive skill. What are you doing to become a better husband or wife, daughter or son, sister or brother and what might that say about the relationship challenges you face at work?
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.