IT Brief UK - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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IWD 2024: Why the human element makes all the difference
Thu, 7th Mar 2024

In the bustling world of IT (where every click and keystroke shape the digital landscape) there's a tendency to focus solely on the whirring gears of technology and advancement. But within the giant sea of code and algorithms, there's a softer, yet equally vital, aspect that often gets overlooked—the human element.

Picture this: a merger or acquisition happens and leaves employees uncertain and nervous about what lies ahead. In comes IT, armed with its arsenal of tech wizardry to get the acquired company connected quickly and securely. But sometimes the human connection can be missing, which is the most crucial piece of the puzzle. It's like trying to build a house without a solid foundation; it might stand for a while, but eventually, it'll come crashing down.

I believe the magic happens at the intersection of technology and humanity, where empathy and engagement are just as important as the technology that's used. It's not simply about coding or configuring systems—it's about understanding the people behind the screens, their fears, their aspirations, and their dreams.

Let me take you on a journey through my personal experiences, which have helped me to understand the real worth of the human element in business.

It all began with a simple mindset I had when I first entered the workforce: "I'll take whatever comes my way." I had no plans to become an IT leader but I'm naturally ambitious and wanted to learn as much as possible to advance. I started out doing data entry and would be the one who volunteered to learn more. When presented with new opportunities, I never once thought to myself, "That isn't my job." I saw the value of continuing to learn and educate myself on various aspects of the business. 

Before I knew it, I was doing complex system configurations and teaching others as I went. I happily embraced every challenge with gusto and curiosity. Along the way, I met so many great people—each with their own stories, their own struggles, and their own triumphs.

But I knew my journey wasn't about climbing the ladder or padding my resume with a ton of skills. No, it was about something deeper: about nurturing talent, about promoting growth, and about being a "mother hen" to those who needed guidance and support.

In the business world, it's not just about ones and zeros; it's about relationships—about connecting with people on a human level. Whether it's coaching a budding superstar or mentoring a colleague through a career transition, it's about investing in the success of others, knowing that their victories are our victories too. 

Caring about people and the family they have, the illnesses they face, or their personal goals and desires is a trait that is often overlooked when talking about business success. It's not about, "What can you do for me, and how fast?" We're ALL people with unique lives, and truly understanding that human element is vital.

For example, I once needed a project manager for a significant carve-out. At that time, there were no "project managers" available from either company, but there was a consultant who did warehouse management who piqued my interest. He was responsible, had ambition, and was always open to learning new things. I picked him for the role, and not only did he do extremely well, but he is also now a director of IT at another company. All he needed was a little nudge to blossom, and I'm very proud of that. To this day, we keep in touch and bounce ideas off each other.

Seeing and nurturing the human behind the keyboard has made all the difference. And it's not just within the confines of office walls that this mentality thrives. It's in the high school auditoriums where other leaders and I speak about STEM topics, inspiring the next generation of tech enthusiasts. It’s in the IT academy talks with college students and interns, guiding them as they step into the industry. It’s in the minds of subject matter experts who have leadership potential. And finally, it's in the boardrooms where the importance of empathy and understanding is recognized as driving organizational success.

But most importantly, it's in the everyday interactions—the genuine conversations, the shared laughter, the moments of vulnerability—that the true power of the human touch in IT becomes clear. In the end, it's not the lines of code or the configurations that define our success: it's the relationships we forge and the lives we touch along the way.