In its 2018 digital workplace predictions report, Gartner notes that while IT can lead the charge during the digital workplace evolution, it will be more successful working closely with adjacent business units, particularly HR. Even though in an ideal world HR and IT are closely allied within businesses, as long ago as the last decade IT leaders said their relationship with HR was not good.
In my experience consulting on the implementation of employee communications and engagement technologies with both HR and IT professionals, I’ve noticed certain occasions where unnecessary misunderstanding and tension exists. I’ve seen situations where HR teams say, “Here’s what we need and when we need it” instead of “Here’s what we need and why we need it.” While IT knows the purpose of HR, in many instances they don’t understand the business challenges and pain points that these professionals confront on a daily basis.
However, the wave of digital transformation across corporate America and its corresponding impact on workers means that IT and HR absolutely must collaborate in order for businesses to succeed.
For another perspective on the changing relationship see “The Rush to the Cloud Is Putting HR In Charge of its Tech“
Here are a few simple ways HR professionals can gain a better understanding of IT’s role, mindset and perceptions so collaboration can be improved and business success can be achieved for all.
Take a walk in their shoes
Building a better relationship with IT starts with knowing how the IT department functions. One way this can be achieved is through job shadowing. Work with IT to build this program so HR employees can learn basic fundamentals and get an idea of what IT does day to day. This knowledge of IT challenges, workflow and processes will also benefit resourcing. You’ll be able to make more accurate determinations on how much time and money IT initiatives need, and what realistic timelines for delivery are.
Job shadowing can also help better understand IT’s hiring needs. The IT profession is going through its own talent transformation. Gartner notes in its report that IT departments will be forced to create both hybrid and non-IT roles and hire workers with social science backgrounds. Job shadowing will assist with recruiting the IT talent that can give an organization a competitive advantage. Better understanding how the IT department functions may help HR suggest new roles that may need to be created and the essential skills to look out for during the hiring process.
Additionally, taking a walk in their shoes can be a stepping stone towards building closer interpersonal relationships, which as any HR professional knows, leads to better working relationships. Moreover, understanding the functions and challenges of IT will allow for increased empathy and more positive attitudes during times of technological change.
Start at the top
Strengthening collaboration with IT starts with building a stronger working relationship with department leadership. Senior members of HR should work the CIO to create a more open dialogue to help the decision-making process. Similarly, senior members of IT should work with the senior VP of HR.
In both departments, the CIO and SVPHR set the tone for team collaboration and lead by example. When they develop a solid working relationship, those in their departments will follow.
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Treat IT as a valued partner
Changing the way interactions exist with IT means looking at these employees through a different lens. Don’t treat them as a provider of a service, but rather as a partner. Involve IT in a meaningful way by including them in monthly scheduled meetings so they can become a true resource. Including IT in conversations from the outset will better position leaders there to understand what technology is needed and how to improve processes overall. In my consulting activities at APPrise Mobile, I’ve seen how much more effective IT can be when treated as a partner that understands the business goals and challenges HR professionals face. The solutions they recommend will be based on feedback directly from the source, rather than in a vacuum.
Celebrate each other’s accomplishments
Great work should always be recognized. Not that IT needs a party every time a project is completed, but something as simple as a quick shout-out during a staff meeting can go a long way. Celebrating accomplishments will act as a motivator for employees and build unity and respect between teams.