It is easy for me to fall into the trap of the “who” versus the “what”. If we are not careful we can get caught up in a web entangled mess. I often get asked how do I go about handling each day and staying organized. Let me be the first to say it isn’t easy, and just because it works for one person doesn’t always mean it will work for the next. However; with that said I am happy to disclose some of my methods in what I call eliminating hassles.
Ask What Rather Than Who
Usually, a problem that arises many people tend to throw out the “It’s not my fault; it’s your fault” card. Some do it with quite precision I’ve found out over the years. When an issue arises instead of immediately looking at someone to place blame on; step back and look at how the issue got to where it is. Example, perhaps a procedure or policy that has been mandated for years contributed to the said issue. Don’t get me wrong and confuse this with letting discipline go by the wayside; there will be instances where it is in fact needed. For future reference, I try to think about the problem at hand and how we got there first then go from there. Who knows; maybe a problem has existed for a while now that is due to a standard and it can easily be changed to help all parties involved. Just because something has been done one way for years doesn’t mean it is right.
Listen To What Others Are Saying
Within IT, we provide a service, to both our external and internal customers. A necessity for survival is keeping a pulse on what is going on around us. Many times we can find process failures if we just listen. We have grown accustomed to having information and data at a moments notice. Being in the financial industry myself I realize how important it is for processes to work as quickly, smoothly, and efficiently as they can. I once had a coach who told me not to listen to how he was saying something but rather what he was saying. I didn’t realize then what that means; all we heard was yelling – I get it now from a business perspective. Listen to the complaint or concern that others are initiating and see if there are some improvements that can be made.
Always Think Ahead
This may be easier said than done, but don’t just wait for issues to appear; continue to find ways to improve upon process before the issues arise. One key aspect I’ve learned in leadership over the years is to anticipate problems and be prepared to handle them. As sports teams go through practice day in and day out preparing for a big game by studying and anticipating what their opponent will be doing and vice versa. The same concept applies here; we as data professionals should be proactive in our day to day efforts. Continue to review disaster practices, processes that may have become stagnant through the years. Don’t become complacent.
Review Your Own Processes
Let’s leave everyone else out of this next topic. Time for reflection of yourself; everyone has their own routine – some are good and some are bad. Some leaders I know often say that routines can be bad and I get that. However, there are some good routines that if correctly put in place can garner stability for an environment. One headache I’ve seen over and over again with many data professionals (myself included) is organization. So, me personally, below is my routine for myself:
- BROWSE THROUGH YOUR EMAIL. Is there anything that needs to be done today or tomorrow? This week? This month?
- What did I not do well yesterday, in any area of my life, I need to go back and fix?
- What went well?
- What did not go well?
- What did not get done yesterday?
- What can I start working on today that will not pay off for 5, 10, 20 years from now?
- What is important for me to be working on right now?
- What is the biggest problem in my personal life? My business life?
That’s it; I start off with those same questions each morning; will it work for you? Not sure but this is just an example of what my routine is in the morning before I get going. Time is key and time management is even better. I will not go into my routine on time management, but maybe I will turn that into a future post.
Resistance = Yes
Anytime changes are made to existing processes or procedures you should expect resistance. This goes hand in hand with listening to what the major problems and complaints are both internal and external. Processes that I’ve encountered in my own shop that was put in place say 8 years ago were put in place for a reason; however, that reason may have outlived its purpose. With that being said working through resistance is a skillful mastering that doesn’t occur overnight. One lesson I’ve learned over time is how your words are interpreted and what people take from your words is crucial and key. There may be times that you have to garner support for your ideas and that is okay; this is where it is key to know what you are doing and to present the idea thoroughly and skillfully. As a data professional it is our duty to continue to look for and implement new and better processes to help streamline processes making them the most efficient as they can be.
One thing I would like to say in all this doesn’t sacrifice what is right for the sake of speed. Remember, do it right the first time and don’t cut corners – chances are if you do it will come back to bite you in the end.
Reflect On Changes Made
Going to let you in on a little secret. Every change that I’ve made has not always gone according to plan. Yes, I’ve taken risks in the past – calculated ones and ones that I felt were right. There are times when you have to re-evaluate those changes made and that’s okay. This is part of the journey and growth. Introducing new ideas to a team, the culture at a shop, or individually is easy – making them stick is not always as easy. I recall an assistant coach of mine would meet me at the gym at 3:30 a.m. before school so I could get in 800 jump shots and conditioning. This was a change I wanted to make so that I could get better at what I was doing at the time – was it easy – – um no. The same thing has carried over into technology for me. When change is made it is not always going to be easy – it is then when true leadership and character come into play. Lead by example and if you have made a mistake own up to it and make the necessary change.
Take A Ways
- Don’t look to pass blame; rather identify failure points
- Eliminate hassles
- Review processes and keep them up to date
- Don’t be afraid to make changes when required
- Expect resistance
- Ask why something is done one way
- Get organized
- Listen to your internal and external customers – what are the pain points