When I apply for a job, I always ask the same question; is there a good IT Team in place?
The response I get is invariably the same. A few exchanged glances across the interview panel, a pause, and then a measured reply along the lines of; “On the whole, yes, but there are a few people who need developing”.
All IT Teams have a mix of high performers, steady eddies and people who, if we’re honest, aren’t really adding any value at all.
These people, the under performers, have often been around for years and generally have a deep knowledge of the organisation. They’re part of the furniture, and are sort of tolerated by other members of the team. Often (and it’s surprising how often this is the case) they have been moved around the department, as managers attempt to pass the problem off to somebody else rather than deal with it.
Under-performance is usually (and rightly) seen as a management problem, but I think it’s fair to say that staff who don’t pull their weight are a problem for everyone in the team.
As IT budgets tighten, increasing pressure is being placed on IT Departments to save cost, and to be more productive. This means that everyone in the team needs to deliver, and if there are people who aren’t contributing, it means more pressure on everyone else.
One person can completely undermine the reputation of the whole department. Good reputations are hard won and easily lost, and there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing months of hard work being undone by laziness, a bad attitude or sloppy work.
If someone needs training or support from colleagues, that’s fair enough, but I believe there is simply no place in IT for anyone who doesn’t want to provide a high quality service.
So what can be done? I’m not proposing a witch-hunt, but I think it’s reasonable to expect performance to be measured across the IT Service.
Rather than be an elephant in the room, team and individual performance should be open and transparent.
As I’ve said before, those of us in IT shouldn’t be afraid of publishing and discussing our performance, but we need to make sure that any areas of weakness, including individuals, are addressed.