IT professionals are the unspoken superheroes of businesses.
Everything from protecting precious IT assets to exorcising demonic printers, you know that your absence could cause mass chaos. Because what happens when the network goes down? Or an online conference call isn’t connecting? Total, absolute standstill.
And that’s where you come in, sans cape, of course.
Just like in real-life, the animated, young techies of Big Hero 6 also come to the rescue, keeping scientific advancements out of the wrong hands and fixing human errors that brought about tragic consequences.
But what stands out about these pint-sized superheroes is more than just their innovation: it’s their ability to work together as a team.
Below, I’ve outlined the four ways in which Big Hero 6 can help you can channel your inner superhero and transform your IT team into the IT supersquad it can be.
Let’s get started.
Assemble Diverse Players
Big Hero 6 was lauded for its diversity and futuristic setting of a cross between modern day San Francisco and Tokyo, not to mention the varying ethnicities, genders, and ages of its main characters.
In the tech world, there’s been a very heated (but much needed) debate about how to solve the industry’s homogeneity, with just about every online publication chiming in on the issue. (Like here, here, here, and here, just to name a few published in the past two weeks.)
Still, the lack remains (for a variety of reasons), but I’ll give you some good reasons why you need diversity, aside from the moral ones, of course.
So let’s turn back to Big Hero 6.
In addition to physical diversity, the film’s superhero squad is also made up of a variety of techies, each specializing in a particular field. This little detail proves important later in the film, when the gang bands together to defeat the Kabuki-masked man who has stolen Hiro’s microbot design.
In typical superhero film montage, Hiro designs suits for each of his friends, where their tech specialty can be harnessed to fight off the Kabuki man’s legion of microbot minions.
Translation: “Diversity enhances creativity,” says Katherine W. Phillips. “It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving….Even simply being exposed to diversity can change the way you think.”
Constant innovation and an ability to “[l]ook for a new angle” (as Hiro’s brother says) are essential tools as tech evolves faster, requiring more agile teams who can more flexibly respond to a host of problems.
So how can you assemble your own diverse team?
Whether you’re trying to hire a young engineer from an HBCU or an IT pro specializing in Ruby on Rails, you have to start at the beginning. You have to create a compelling position with a compelling listing. As Lou Adler, president of consulting firm The Adler Group states, “Top people want top jobs, regardless of their cultural, ethnic or religious background or gender.”
But if you already struggle with ethnic or gender diversity in particular, you have to go another step. Because opening the gates isn’t enough. You have to let applicants know where those open gates are.
So reach out. Diverse IT professionals exist. Find them.
Whether it’s advertising your company during collegiate job fairs at women’s colleges, HBCUs, associations like the Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA), or attending events such as the Grace Hopper Conference, you have to put yourself out there. Don’t expect diverse candidates to flock to you if you aren’t actively seeking them out yourself.
Now, if a few get to the interview, you again have to rethink your strategy. Because when it comes to diversity, the interview isn’t just about assessing your candidate’s competency anymore. You have to look at yourself and evaluate how you may be holding the process back.
Krista Morgan of the Young Entrepreneur Council puts it this way: “Forget the beer test.” Or, in other words, the notion that you should only hire those you’d go out and drink with.
“This idea that you should only hire people who you would get beers with is just nonsense, in my opinion,” she continues. “I enjoy drinks with all kinds of people, and it doesn’t mean I’m going to like working with them. I suggest hiring people who pass the ‘they’re going to force me to raise my game’ test instead. Focus on the right qualifications for the job even as you strive to balance culture fit with each hire.”
Diversity is a multi-faceted problem for the tech industry (which is probably why people keep writing about it), meaning there are a variety of solutions and measures you can take to grow and nurture your IT team. The problem may be the wording of your listings, how you market your openings, yourself, or even your company culture and benefit plans.
Be Ridiculously Helpful
I can’t say that I came up with this one on my own. In fact, it’s one of Capterra’s core values. But it’s still just as applicable and important to your IT team as it is to Capterra.
In the film, Baymax is created for the sole purpose of helping others in need. Activated by a cry of “ouch” and only subdued when a patient is satisfied with their care, it’s not hard to see why this marshmallow of a robot becomes fast friends with Hiro and the gang.
When others think of IT, they picture it as a department that solves issues. Which is partly true. But aside from fixing an employee’s Wi-Fi connection or printer problems, IT is also for preventing these problems in the first place. Your teammates aren’t just first responders or crisis managers. They’re also general physicians helping to deliver preventative care measures.
Writing in Computerworld, Paul Glen takes it further, acknowledging that IT is also about finding the best solution, even if that means doing more than what was asked by upper management.
“Wanting to help is great,” he states, “but sometimes we instead seek merely to please. They are not at all the same thing….You have to dig and find out what it is that the users actually want to accomplish. When you do that, you will find often enough that what is being requested isn’t the best way to achieve the real goal—and sometimes it won’t even come close. As IT professionals, we aren’t really doing our job unless we determine what will be helpful, regardless of what was asked for. Being experts in technology carries a professional responsibility to do more than simply fill orders.”
An ITSM software solution is a good start to better manage employee issues, but you can also go further by looping in non-IT executives in the IT conversation. Often, C-suite executives don’t know the work an IT team undertakes to complete a project, which shouldn’t surprise you since they aren’t IT professionals. So help them see things from a technological perspective in order for them to understand the amount of work and time a task would mean for your team. Bridge the gap between IT and business.
Hold Each Other Accountable
Throughout the film, Baymax relentlessly tries to help the lost and confused Hiro find his way. Often asking at the outset how their latest adventure would make him a better care provider, Baymax inadvertently holds Hiro accountable for his actions, even at one point going so far as to ask if it’s what Tadashi, Hiro’s deceased brother, would want him to do. In his instances of anger and acts of vengeance, Baymax’s questions give Hiro pause and make the young techie evaluate the consequences of his decisions.
So what does this mean for you and your IT teams? Whether it’s tackling time-consuming projects or emergency fixes, accountability “can override the dips in motivation that you encounter on days when you’re not at your best.”
This may be hard as more IT professionals are beginning to work remotely, but virtual “status meetings” or even a brief check in with your team from time-to-time can boost productivity and efficiency. There’s also plenty of project management software solutions to encourage collaboration, ideas, and keep track of team tasks so your members remain in the know. At Capterra, we like to keep a handle on what other team members are doing through Trello.
Instilling accountability doesn’t have to be such a daunting task, either. All you have to do is lay out the groundwork for your team members, meaning that you need to be clear and direct with your visions and expectations. Communication is key not only for busy executives, but to manage small teams as well.
IT professionals aren’t seen as the most sensitive and emotional area of the workforce. But it’s time to change that.
One of the major struggles faced by Hiro is reconciling himself to the death of his brother Tadashi. Discovering that Callaghan did nothing while Tadashi bravely ran into the flames angers Hiro more, but it’s the understanding of his college friends and Baymax that helps Hiro transform his anger into good will.
In IT, teams can only be as successful as their leaders and leaders can only be successful if they listen to the needs of their team. “[T]he ability to read co-workers’ emotional states is pivotal in determining a team’s success,” as well as other factors like taking turns speaking during meetings, and checking your ego at the door. It also shows respect to your employees and makes them feel valuable, creating a positive culture (whereas its lack can make women and minorities quit). Something good to practice at your next team meeting.
(Note: Women, in particular, have been shown as having higher levels of emotional intelligence. Just another reason to invest in a diverse squad.)
Do you run your own IT supersquad? Let me know some of your suggestions and ideas for running a super IT team in the comments below.