In an earlier post, I mentioned the need for an inspired leader in Infrastructure Operations because otherwise, the job can feel meaningless, unrewarding, or like you have a constant target on your back. But I never defined “inspIred leader”.
In this environment, the first thing the leader needs to convey to the team is: “I’ve got your back.” The leader should ensure that all blame, recriminations, or negativity in any form is directed at them, not at anyone on their team. The only person allowed to criticize a member of the team is the leader. This level of trust is necessary to prevent the team members being defensive and risk-averse when working with the rest of the organization. Credit flows through the leader to the team, blame stops at the leader.
The second key characteristic for the leader of this organization is praise. These folks hear nothing but complaints and what has gone wrong. They need an “atta-boy” from time to time to offset the bunker mentality that could set in. It is good practice in any environment, but these little things return even more in terms of commitment in a group such as infrastructure operations.
It is all too easy to fall into a routine that does not advance the company’s strategic capabilities – surrender to monotony. The leader must constantly loook for small projects that provide incremental movement toward corporate or departmental goal lines because it is rare that the group will have time available for large projects.
Finally, developing an accountability program around metrics that mean something to the business, not just to IO, instills discipline and enhances focus. Measuring packet loss around the network, or database transactions, may be easy and interesting to some, but it means nothing to the business. Reducing the latency of a small transaction that is done 100M times a day by a half-second can really be interesting to the business – especially if it is a critical business process or a prerequisite for one.
Do you have some good suggestions for metrics or motivators for Infrastructure Operations? Please share, we could all use them.