Three things (potentially) holding back your IT career
Human Resources

Three things (potentially) holding back your IT career

Many people get into an IT career because they’re technical and like computers. However, as the department becomes less siloed and (ever) more critical to the wider business, the very traits that got you into IT in the first place may begin to count against you. They may even actively hinder your career progression…

 

ONE: Too technical

Technical ability has its benefits and initially (at least) sets an individual above the rest in an IT career. Yet as time goes on it can also prove alienating in a business where the leaders don’t have a clue what any of the technical stuff means and just know it costs money.

This can be seen most obviously in the chequered trajectory of the CISO. This role has risen in importance in recent years. Yet finding the skills to match the jobs can be tough for businesses because individuals who know about the nuts and bolts of security are often not good very good at translating them at board level.

What you can do about it: IT moves too fast, it is impossible to be absolutely top of the game on every technicality. The trick to progressing in IT is to be able to delegate the day-to-day stuff to subject matter experts and be able to translate the top line benefits to a non-techie business audience.

 

Also read: IDG research: Strategic CIOs happier and better paid

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TWO: Natural introverts

In the UK, the Channel 4 comedy show, ‘The IT Crowd’ pretty much nailed the cliché about IT professionals. These were standard nerds, inept and socially geeky, who worked in the basement of a successful company. Like most clichés, this picture holds true to a certain extent.

A little while back be we tracked down experts in the Myers-Briggs personality test, conducted in-depth interviews with a number of IT leaders and ran a survey to 465 IT professionals. More than half of those we spoke to identified as an introvert. (And only 20% identified as extrovert). However, introversion is very misunderstood. This is not the same as being shy – or having poor people skills – it is just about the way people get their energy and how quickly they are ‘drained’ by social interaction. 

What you can do about it: This perception issue is something which besets IT as whole. To thrive as an individual, it is important to understand what you’re going to find draining, conserve your energy for what’s important, and stay on the front foot in order to best represent IT at a higher level outside the department.   

 

Also read: Introverts vs. extroverts: Is there an IT personality?

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THREE: Bullying managers

Bullying is rife in all walks of the workplace and it is impossible to objectively say if one place is really worse than another. However, a couple of years ago we ran a survey to 650 IT professionals which showed that 75% (it was a self-selecting study) had been bullied. Of these 94% highlighted psychological bullying, and in 74% of cases, the perpetrator was senior.

In the raft of interviews we conducted with experts in the field we found that the technology industry appears to be slightly more toxic than other environments (although this isn’t really a reflection of IT). What is clear though, is that some senior individuals make bullying a strategy to maintain power and stay ahead, and many ordinary workers simply don’t realise what has hit them.

What you can do about it: The most important thing is to be aware that these individuals exist and to prepare yourself not to become a victim. The abusers tend to pick on bright, diligent individuals who excel at their jobs. The abused often blames themselves for the problem and lets it hinder their own career.

 

Also read: Bullying: The uncomfortable truth about IT

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