Tag: technical career

IT: Your Friendly Neighborhood Strategic Business Partner

IT: Your Friendly Neighborhood Strategic Business Partner

We’ve been witnessing a major transition in the role of IT in most organizations from service provider (or resident “firefighter”) to strategic business partner for some time now. Or at least we have been witnessing a lot of “talk” about this transition.

Does Your Career Hinge on Perception or Reality?

Does Your Career Hinge on Perception or Reality?

IT careerI was having a conversation with someone in the telecommunications field the other day, and she was telling me that she has a new director for her department. Within minutes of starting their first one-on-one meeting, the director quickly explained that his leadership style was based on perception over reality.

What he meant was that how a direct report was perceived by his or her staff/peers mattered more to him than the reality.

In other words, he went on to say, he didn’t really care if you thought you were good. He only cared whether others thought it too. He didn’t really care whether you just thought you were direct. He only cared whether your directness hurt someone else’s perception of you.

I’m not sure whether this is a new tool in the corporate leadership arsenal, or just unique to this dude, but it led to an interesting discussion about perception versus reality when it comes to our careers.

Does Your Career Hinge on Perception or Reality?

In the case of my telecom friend, her new boss was setting the ground rules. He wanted her to know that if he received a complaint about her management style from her staff or peers, he was going to believe it. And, essentially, it was up to her to fix it…even if the complaint was based more on the perception of one person or a couple of persons than on reality. (I have no idea what his plan is if some people say one thing about you and others disagree. I guess he will rank your reviews, much like Amazon and Google do. Congrats…you get 3 out of 5 stars!)

As a personal branding strategist, I think I “get” what he is saying. It is what a lot of social media/content marketing people are saying…you need people to like you (even if those people aren’t very good themselves)…because if they don’t like you, then you’re not good…even if you are. (If a tree falls in the forest, blah, blah, blah.)

Of course, after they say this, causing you to run all over the Internet begging for “likes” and “shares” so your Klout score will go up, they then say, “but just be yourself. Be authentic.” Isn’t it wonderful?

Can anyone say “it’s the confusing world of the 6th grade all over again?”

(When my telecom friend was telling me about this meeting with her new director, I did wonder whether this is how he parents his children: “If all the kids are saying you’re a loser, son, well, then that just must be true. It’s up to you to fix it.”)

In the case of this director, and apparently in the online personal branding world of today, perception is the reality.

Now, some might argue, that it has pretty much always been true. But with social media and the “branding” strategies being touted, it seems to be more acute.

Of course, my friend was a bit unsettled by this conversation (which I would assume was the new director’s point). [I really wished she had asked him whether this was the same standard by which she should judge him, but alas, she did not. :-)]

In his defense, he obviously cares a lot about “cultural fit” and is letting everyone know that he is placing that high on his list. And I’m guessing he picked up this strategy at some recent leadership conference, where it sounded so…smooth.

But, like most of these things, the truth comes out in the “reality” of the strategy in application, not in the “perception” of the theory.

It’s really nice to say that how a person is perceived by co-workers or across social media “says” something true about him or her. I mean, if a lot of people are saying it, then it must be true, right? (Yeah, kind of like how mob rule and mutinies are always “right” and “true.”) So, the argument goes, by being more sensitive to these perceptions, you are going to help create a better “culture” where people want to recommend you and work with you.

The problem, however, is that when these same directors and personal branding “experts” make these statements, they also somehow believe that the end result is going to be real, authentic.

In other words, the “experience” will be more authentic once everyone spends their every working second worrying about what everyone else thinks about them…er, what?

And of course, our businesses will thrive…our careers will soar…and we will just be so happy to work in a setting where perception is the reality. Right?

Hmmm. It is a pickle. But does it have to be?

Wouldn’t it be better to create a culture (corporate or otherwise) built on authentic, imperfect people who are considerate of other people’s perceptions of them but not consumed by them?

I mean, this way, you would really know whom you are working with? Results would matter more than likeability?

Yes, being recommendable or referable is a great thing, but do we only recommend people we like? I would much prefer people to recommend someone who is really good and can “show” it, not someone who goes around playing the perception game.

Sadly, however, most people like to play games.

Now That Techies Are Cool

Now That Techies Are Cool

With a plethora of job openings in the tech sector, it should come as no surprise that those who once thought they would rather do anything else but program code or work with “tech” (much less hang out with those who do) are now suddenly changing their tune. It also doesn’t hurt that the title of “geek” or “techie” is suddenly something cool, thanks to the rise of innovators like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

What Type of Career Insurance Do You Have?

What Type of Career Insurance Do You Have?

One issue that has been on my mind a lot lately is the concept of insurance, particularly when it comes to our careers. It’s not a very exciting topic, I know, but when you are advising on technical career management day in and day out, it is hard not to think about it, especially when you understand (and relate with) the concern that people have over job security and income protection.

Don’t Get Twitter? Start Chatting & You Will

Don’t Get Twitter? Start Chatting & You Will

With more than 600 chats happening across Twitter each week, it is surprising that none of them has catered to IT and technical career issues, especially as the war for talent in the technical arena heats up. Well, now we have one. Hosted by the Technical Career Forum, #TCFchat is held each Wednesday at 3pm Eastern.

3 Simple Methods for Effective Techie Career Branding

3 Simple Methods for Effective Techie Career Branding

I’ve talked quite a bit lately about the importance of personal branding and leveraging social media in a technical career. Today, I want to cover 3 simple things that techies can do improve on their career branding message.

Engagement and IT: You Can No Longer Have One Without the Other

Engagement and IT: You Can No Longer Have One Without the Other

Today’s buzzword of the moment is “engagement.” If you’ve spent more than five minutes “engaging” in social media these days, you can’t miss it. If we’re not talking about “communities,” we’re talking about “engagement.” Are relationships (and not just with other techies) becoming more essential to building a successful career in IT? Is engagement truly the wave of the future? Or is there still room for the mastermind Geeks in the back corner, spending all day with their heads in the clouds?