CU Water Cooler

Three Ways to Treat Your IT Department Better

Shari StormComment

As banking technology becomes more integrated, progressively member-facing, and our biggest defense against fraud, it is critical that when we find quality IT people we keep them around as long as we can. One way to do that is by treating them right. But the problem is, most of us look at our IT folks and kind of scratch our heads. Most managers don’t have an IT back ground and so the people in IT are sometimes a bit mysterious to us.

Here are a few things you can do to stop doing those things that annoy tech people.

Number ONE: Understand maker’s schedules and manager’s schedules

Paul Graham summed it up nicely in this article. His basic premise is this—managers build their day in one-hour increments. Most of the things managers do involve meeting with others and doing short bursts of activities that change every hour or so. Makers on the other hand, must dive into complex problems that need long periods of intense concentration.

These two working styles collide when managers ask makers to attend meetings. When a manager schedules a meeting for mid morning or mid afternoon, they essentially ruin a full half-day for a maker. A maker doesn’t want to dive into say a complicated coding session, if they know they are going to have to break away in a short amount of time. Further, its not uncommon for an IT person to be deep into a problem and completely forget a meeting – which infuriates most managers.

As a manager, what can you do? Easy. Schedule meetings with IT staff either first thing in the morning or last thing in the day or have one day a week when IT staff have ‘office hours’. Perhaps Fridays are the days that IT people take meetings with the rest of the business and the entire day is devoted to meetings.

Number TWO: Accept that their workspace will look different than yours

When I took over IT at Verity, I visited several other credit unions to learn about their IT departments. Without exception, every IT department had a unique environment. There was clutter, there were couches, there was food, there were flyers on the walls with jokes I didn’t understand. It simply didn’t look like a manager’s office.

As a manager, don’t fret about that. Tech people have different creative dispositions and different job requirements and their offices simply are not going to look like ours and that’s OK.

Number THREE: Don’t do this to them


Shari Storm speaks around the country on a number of topics. Her book, Motherhood is the New MBA: Using Your Parenting Skills to be a Better Boss has been published in three languages: American, Canadian and Mandarin. It has been featured in Time, Redbook and Costco Connection. You can learn more about Shari at