In my blog last week, I recommended 6 tips that you might like to consider as New Year’s Resolutions. They were all about things you can do for your IT organization. This week, I would like to continue with 9 more tips (making a convenient 15 for 2015!) that deal with things you can do for yourself, for your own professional development, and to help protect valuable information.
Here we go -
We all need to develop our skills, knowledge, and competence if we want to keep up with the rapidly evolving IT industry. There are lots of things you could do to help you with this, but probably the most important is to find someone who can be a mentor for you.
The job of a mentor is not to teach you, but to act as a sounding board for your ideas; to talk through the issues you face at work and help you to come up with approaches and solutions that might help you. You may want a mentor who is an expert in IT service management, but it can be equally helpful to work with someone who knows and understands the organization you work for, or the industry you work in, or can offer guidance in other areas such as managing people or projects.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone you respect to act as a mentor. The worst that can happen is that they will say no (but PLEASE don’t ask me as I will have to say no, I already have far too many people that I mentor).
There will never be enough mentors for all of us if we don’t also offer to mentor other people. If you are thinking of asking someone to mentor you, then you should also think about offering to mentor someone else.
The mentoring relationship is not one-sided, with a mentor providing information that the other person absorbs. It is a two-way relationship and can provide as much value for the mentor as it does for the person they are mentoring. I have mentored many people in many different roles, and I have learned things from every one of them.
You can find IT service management conferences in every part of the world. These vary from half-day events that are free to attend to quite expensive multi-day events. Conferences give you an opportunity to listen to a range of presentations, so you can learn how other organizations have solved their ITSM challenges, but the biggest benefit of attending a conference is the networking. These conferences are attended by people who do similar things to you, and you can learn a lot from just chatting to the other ITSM professionals at the event. You may even find you get on so well with someone you meet that you can set up a mentoring relationship.
There are many social media channels that you can use to help with your service management issues, and you could investigate a number of different forums and groups to find the one that suits you best. If you don’t have time for this, then just join the Back2ITSM group on Facebook. This group has a wide range of welcoming and helpful ITSM people, with all sorts of abilities, special interests, and skill levels. Whether you want to get help and advice on a specific ITSM issue, or you just want to network with other ITSM professionals, you should be able to get what you need – and of course it won’t cost you anything except a few minutes of your time.
Talking about how you might want to use a few minutes of your time, I once had a very wise manager who told me that I should stop whatever I am doing three or four times a day and ask myself, “If the paying customers knew this is how I spend my time would they be happy?” I have followed this advice for many years now and it has always helped me to remain focussed on what’s important – creating value for my customers.
If someone learns the passwords you use on the Internet, then they can impersonate you and do incalculable damage to your reputation, and to your finances. There have been many reports of password databases being breached, leading to millions of user passwords being exposed. The best way to defend yourself against becoming a victim of these breaches is to use two-factor authentication. This means that when you log in you need to provide two things, usually a password and a number that you receive as a text message on your mobile phone. Sites with two-factor authentication typically allow you to register your trusted devices, so you only need to provide a second factor when logging in from a new device.
While we’re on the subject of security, here are two more information security tips for IT service management people.
Information security is an absolutely critical area for people who care about creating value with IT, and is something we all need to be aware of. You can’t just leave information security to the infosec professionals – everyone needs to be involved.
Whether you are designing a new process, investigating a problem, reviewing a change, or carrying out any other aspect of IT service management, you must think about the information security implications of what you are doing. Be alert to the fact that people probably are trying to breach the security of your systems and services, and you have a responsibility to help prevent this from happening, and to help detect that it has happened when it can’t be prevented.
The number and size of security breaches keeps increasing, and many organizations have suffered major loss of reputation, and money, due to these. In the past, organizations would build defences to prevent security breaches, but that is no longer enough. You also need to have well-tested plans in place for what you will do when a breach happens. If you, as a service management professional, have not been involved in tests of security incident response plans, then you need to find out why, and make sure you will be in a position to do the right thing when a breach happens.
Life shouldn’t be all about work, and professional development. You also need to get away from IT and IT service management and have a bit of fun. Make sure you take enough time for yourself and for your friends and family, it will not only leave you feeling better but you will also do a better job at work when you come back with new energy and focus. So take a bit of time out when you can, and come back refreshed and ready to deliver great service to your customers.