Tech Leaders: Best Practices for Aligning w/ Business Units

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Tech leaders that want to advance their careers are realizing the importance of partnering with business units. Business leadership is clearly communicating that they want tech leaders to work more effectively with business units.

Below are best practices tech leaders can use to build these critical relationships.

  1. Work as a team to develop goals for your business unit customers. As an example, knowing what business units need when they begin thinking about it allows time to plan for their needs.
  2. Nothing is more powerful than really knowing your customer – how they think, how they feel, how they make decisions, how they communicate, etc… This can be achieved by spending time and asking good questions.
  3. Stories are a great way to communicate. People love stories and relate to them. Think of stories from you experience that communicate the point you want to make.
  4. Have an objective when you meet with a business unit. Think about the questions you want to ask ahead of time. Always be diplomatic in communication and consider sending your goal and questions ahead of the meeting.
  5. Actively listen to what they say. Strive to talk less and listen more.
  6. Remember, they probably don’t see the world, think, or solve problems the way you do.
  7. Ask follow-up questions to clarify.
  8. Tell them what you understood them to say to ensure communication was effective. This is really important when communicating people that think differently than you, which is usually the case if you are technical and they are from a business unit. Follow up with a brief email restating the request (if there was a work request).
  9. Have business conversations – not technical conversations. There is NEVER a need to speak at a more technical level than business unit leaders can understand.

Always remember, asking the right question at the right time is extremely powerful. Further, you won’t do these things perfectly. The important part is that you try.

Pete Hendrix is CEO of Integritec, a Telecom technology broker and thought leader on achieving competitive advantage through technology which comes from effective collaboration and communication between IT leadership, the C-Suite and other business unit leaders. He can be reached at peteh@integritec-tn.com.

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