In my many years of managing data centers and IT, I’ve had (and still have) the distinct honor to work with a diverse group of people – developers, SYS admins, DBA’s, first, second, and third level support. What I have realized during those years is that, luckily, there isn’t much difference between IT and people.
People’s lives are constantly changing, just like IT. There are several situations which occur unexpectedly in one’s life; trouble with the mortgage, kids needing braces, a losing basketball team, or even just a lousy mood can skew a person’s outlook. Even positive things cause changes: a great movie, relaxing vacation, or desire for promotion brings about a new state of mind. No matter what has changed, it leads to an impact on the job. The smallest difference in a worker’s life, for better or worse, can change productivity for an entire day, week, month, or year.
Just like IT, it’s very important to monitor any and all changes, since even the slightest difference could have a “butterfly effect,” i.e., a causal chain that leads to major upsets down the line. End-to-end monitoring of your people is in-depth. You need to listen very carefully and ask them the right questions. By building relationships, and interacting non-stop, over and over again, you can at least understand, respond, and manage the changes that happen outside of your control.
An old professor from my MBA studies left me with some knowledge that I’ll never forget. He said “your employees will always talk, always complain. That’s a fact and you can’t change it. The challenge is to get them to talk to you.”
IT components will always change, that’s the nature of a “good” IT environment. Some of them will cause huge headaches for IT management and that’s a fact we must live with. The challenge is to make those changes visible, from end to end, so that we can effectively monitor and react to them. I wish I had a performance management tool for Human Resources! Now, I’m just doing it manually!