IT Heroes – Part1

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It Governance

 IT Heroes – Problem or Lifesaver?

Sometimes your best people  – you IT Heroes – can be your biggest problem!

I am talking about those amazing IT support staff who can fix anything – the people the customers adore.  There seems to be nothing they cannot do, and the business knows it.  Everybody knows that if they ring ‘Bob’ directly, their issue will be sorted out instantly – no logging calls and waiting for responses while more important IT issues are fixed first.

These are your IT Superheroes, and they love racing in and saving the day – who wouldn’t?  It gives you a great feeling when everyone tells you how amazing you are!  Unfortunately, your superheroes keep themselves in this position by being the only ones who know how to fix things.  They keep their knowledge to themselves, making it impossible for anyone else to do what they do.

In some cases, they do this because they think it gives them job security.  ‘If no-one else can do what I do, then I cannot be replaced.’  However, the thing they forget is the fact that if they cannot be replaced, then they also cannot be promoted.

When an organization has a hero culture, they are constantly firefighting, and there are likely to be multiple single points of failure within their IT teams.

It is very easy for managers to turn a blind eye to the hero issue.  After all the business loves the hero, and normally they are doing an exceptional job.  They go out of the way to keep the customers happy and will go above and beyond the call of duty – starting early, skipping lunch, staying late…all to keep things running.

So, if everyone likes the heroes and they are doing such a good job, then why am I telling you that they are a problem?

What happens if they win the lottery, get sick, have an accident or get headhunted by another company?  All of their knowledge walks out the door with them and you start again with someone new and they begin at the beginning and learn how to fix all the little things that can go wrong in your IT environment.  If you didn’t learn from your first superhero experience, the chances are the new person will turn into a hero themselves and perpetuate the problem.

The cost to the business when one of your heroes leaves can be huge, both in monetary terms and in frustration and time wasted for the remaining IT team members.  You will take a long time to get your team back up to speed and to support the business the way they have become accustomed to in the past.  Your customer satisfaction ratings will tumble, and you face real risks of catastrophic IT failures that you do not know how to fix quickly and efficiently.

Scary!  However, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Read the next article in this series to see what you can do to resolve your superhero problem.

David Mainville

David Mainville, CEO and co-founder of Navvia, is a passionate advocate of Service Management and a frequent presenter, blogger and well known member of the ITSM community. With over 35 years of experience, David has held progressively senior technical and management roles allowing him to "connect the dots" between the Business and IT. At Navvia, David leads the charge to bring innovative ITSM solutions to market focusing on Product Development, Marketing and Operations.

• Posted by David Mainville on Feb 04, 2016
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