Thursday, March 3, 2011

IT Professional - Know Thyself

What are you good at?  It pays to know - literally.  It will also make you happier and more productive on the job.

The more I work in IT, the more I see where I'm most effective. I also see in comparison where others blow past me in their individual skills.  It's important for multifunctional teams to have a good idea of different team member's areas of expertise.  Leveraging (knowing when and who to ask for a specific kind of help) these team skills can greatly improve the effectiveness of a team.

Here's some real life examples:

I'm rather weak on writing complex sql statements.  I can profile sql, and can get most sql work done.  But if I've got a difficult query I'm working on, I'll go ask my team mate who is an expert on putting together complex sql.  Later on, he'll ask me for help with a visual studio or server/service configuration related question.  Its a good, productive working relationship that keeps everyone happy.  The BA's are happy because the data looks right.  My PM is happy because my task was finished on time. And my team mate and I our happy because we both learned something and did it faster than trying to google for it on our own.

I'm great at problem solving software related issues - particularly in a domain I'm familiar with.  Whether it's missing permissions, configuration, network connectivity, everyone sitting around me will tell you I'm very, VERY persistent at solving problems that are brought to me.  My neighbor one cube west is fantastic at IIS/MSTDC/COM related bug/configuration debugging.   She also knows our software domain better than almost anyone else in the building - she seems to have it memorized.  When I have an issue with our software that I don't know how to fix, or a business related problem in the software,  I talk to her without hesitation.  Conversely, when she is stuck on an issue that she doesn't know how to solve, she will buzz it past me.  Again, a productive working relationship that makes everybody happy.  The business is happy they got their patch as fast as they did.  Once again our PM is happy, etc....

In meetings I will keep quiet and not say very much unless I feel there is an important point being missed.  I'm not super great at arguing a point.  I'm not the person that's always called on to go to a meeting to convince another group of people that 'our way is the right way'.  Part of this is my personality, part of it is my belief that there is multiple ways to get 'a good enough' answer for the problem we are looking to resolve.  However, we have another fellow in our group that will absolutely blow you away with his gift of logical persuasion.  He's the guy that gets sent to those 'convince the group' meetings.  On the other hand, I'm called on when diplomacy and a consensus is required.

Know what you are good at.  Seek to know what your team mate's strengths are.  Become a happier, more productive development team.

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