Communication is not an IT Issue

Sep 04 2012 by Wayne Turmel Print This Article

Whenever I talk to project managers or leaders about communication on their remote teams (and sometimes even their physical ones), no one gets more blame than the poor maligned folks in IT. Yes, I know they are largely responsible for which tools you have on your team (or don't have, as the case may be). Still, here's something to think about. It's not their job to be in charge of communication.

This seems strange, since anything having to do with phones, computers or whatever voodoo it is that actually makes the internet work is under their tender care.

But the key thing to remember is that what your IT folks are responsible for is providing and maintaining the tools. Their job is to make sure the right ones and zeros get where they are supposed to go in a fast and secure matter. Data transfer is their bailiwick. But true communication is more than data transfer, and that's where we come in.

So, IT provides email services. How we write, file, save and ultimately use those emails is not their issue. It's not the fault of your local geeks to make sure that nobody abuses the CC function. That's your job as the leader.

Similarly, IT provides whatever web presentation platform you use (and may or may not support it) but learning what those tools can do for your team's productivity and making the most of them is not their mandate.

IT can give you a list of available tools, apps and software as long as your arm. Creating a team communication plan that makes the best of them in a manner that's conducive to team morale and shares information effectively is decidedly not part of their mandate.

Finally, IT might (MIGHT!) provide training. That's only part of the trick to getting people to make something part of how they do their work on a regular basis. To truly adopt a tool, though, you need to see it modeled, get coached on how you're doing and be held accountable for its use. Guess who those tasks falls to?

It's tempting, and oh so very easy, to blame IT for communication problems on your team. The VPN that keeps dropping and slows everything to a crawl? That's on their consciences. The seventeen passwords that you can't remember and keep changing? That's them again. The fact that your team won't use the internal file sharing sites? OOOOOPS.

Remember, data transfer is IT's job. Making sure that it's used to truly communicate and connect is the job of every individual team member and leader. There's enough blame to go around, let's just place it on the right shoulders.

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

For almost 30 years, Wayne Turmel has been obsessed with how people communicate - or don't - at work. He has spent the last 20 years focused on remote and virtual work, recognized as one of the top 40 Remote Work Experts in the world. Besides writing for Management Issues, he has authored or co-authored 15 books, including The Long-Distance Leader and The Long-Distance Teammate. He is the lead Remote and Hybrid Work subject matter expert for the The Kevin Eikenberry Group. Originally from Canada, he now makes his home in Las Vegas, US.