Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bad Attitudes Have No Business In the IT Business

I thought that I would post something that's non-technical today. I have had a couple of dealings with customers these past few days that were less than pleasant. One of which I knew from days past. With that, I have thought I would write up a few words on bad attitudes in IT.

It seems that throughout the nineties there were a lot of companies that had administrators and IT personnel that nobody wanted to talk to. In some cases (that I myself have witnessed) there were overpaid administrators who literally sat in a dark room most of the day and would throw a fit if anyone bothered them for assistance. In my days as an IT instructor I would often cross paths with some of these folks and I wondered why anyone would employ them.

At some point in the history of information technology it seems that we accepted that for someone to be smart and helpful in the area of computing, it should be expected that they would come with personality flaws (or even hygiene problems). Into the late nineties and early millennium many of these administrators found themselves unemployed. The job market for information technology shrank. Or, did it? Perhaps as the economy suffered, businesses of all sizes had to cut back and see who they could do without. Could they live without that mean guy who sits in the dark playing video games all day? They were willing to try.

While my training business in was booming in mid 2005 and I had no shortage of work, I was running into old colleagues and sometimes students who said that they had been trying for weeks or months to find work. What was it that they were missing? A good attitude for starters (and better hygiene for those others). Good attitudes will always make up for what you may be lacking in the area of experience. While many will say that it's not "what you know" but "who you know", I still contest that it's how you treat people that determines if you are going to get a job.

I have also been amazed at what a small world it is when it comes to information technology. I still run into people that I worked with ten or more years ago. Almost all of those people that I bump into are still in the same field. I am assuming that they are all glad to see me. But when I run into an old colleague that I had a hard time with, I will not exchange cards. In such a small world there are few rivers. Nothing will kill your career faster than burnt bridges. And nothing accelerates bridge fires like a bad attitude!

Remember to slow down, relax, and be nice to the people you work with. Be even nicer to the people that you help, or the people that help you. Compassion and kindness are instruments of business.

-Steve Ballantyne