For many years I have used a short clip from the movie Jurassic Park when training IT teams and responding to employees who are weighed down with requests. The clip begins with the trainer explaining how raptors are testing the park’s fence for weaknesses. Once the raptor finds a weak point in the fence it never forgets and will continue to exploit it.
I use this analogy not to imply that our customers are man-eating dinosaurs, but to illustrate how important it is to use a team and leader-focused approach to help IT teams manage their workloads. It demonstrates that when you allow someone – an external customer, internal customer or business partner – to operate outside of policy, you are effectively weakening your fence. That individual will remember the “favor” you did and return to you time and again requesting special assistance.
Even the most minor procedures are important. Asking the following questions will ensure that your fence stays strong:
- Are you having customers open tickets?
- Is this work approved by your manager?
- Is your manager aware of the request?
- Does the task align with a specific goal?
This analogy reinforces how, as a team, we need to control workflow by using policies (fences) to keep rogue customers contained. Our fence is made up by those who have the authority to complete a task. While it is important to ensure your fences are in all the right places and dimensions, that is for another article. Of course, there should be SLAs in place for such work requests, but that is also for another time. When a team member makes an exception, they are weakening the fence. The individual will remember and exploit it. They will keep coming back time and time again because they believe that the team’s rules and policies are not being enforced.
Fences can be mended. Once your policies are held firmly in place, your customers and business partners will align with the process. I’m not saying to be obtuse when it comes to prioritizing work but understand that a united front is required to ensure a team is operating at peak performance. This will ensure that all work requests are aligned with the goals of the department and company in a compliant and effective manner. By strengthening your “fence” you will see a more streamlined and effective workforce.