1. Highlight Your Value
If you want to partner with business stakeholders, you’ll need to understand their challenges and then offer solutions that help solve their problems. Not sure they’ll listen to your ideas? Try creating a value proposition that directly addresses the issues stakeholders face and provides clear explanations on how your solutions can help.
Can’t come up with an exciting technological solution to the problems your company faces? That’s okay. Keep thinking and keep providing solutions. Not only does this demonstrate your value, it also gets people in the habit of asking you what the best course of action would be instead of telling you.
When stakeholders start asking you questions, don’t waste the opportunity. Take the time to briefly educate people in your company about new tech opportunities for the company, for each department, and for individual employees. It’s easy to become your company’s trusted advisor if you communicate often, clearly, and proactively – and once you’re seen as an advisor, you’ll have the freedom to transform your role.
2. Be Visible and Available
According to a Dale Carnegie case study about IT transformation, face-to-face contact helps establish trust, credibility, and respect, so it’s important that you come out of the proverbial data center every once in a while to walk around the office and chat with people. We understand how hard it is to escape workload pressures, but if you’re serious about breaking free of your transactional role, you’ll need to begin establishing advisory relationships throughout the office.
Save time on these interactions by focusing on quick wins. Brainstorming small solutions and answering fast questions may not seem like much to you, but over time, your steady, continued advice will encourage people to ask you for additional—perhaps strategic—help.
Already been wandering around the office making yourself visible and helping with small projects? It’s time to get in front of the decision makers by tagging along as a tech advisor for one of the business units. Once you’re in the room, wow the board with your technological insight.
3. Focus on Business Objectives
After you’ve impressed the board with your knowledge, be prepared to follow up your performance with creative solutions for enterprise challenges and objectives. By “creative,” we mean that you shouldn’t dismiss shadow IT, outsourcing, offshoring, or other IT models because it’s best to investigate every avenue for business success. If one of the newer IT innovations solves a problem, you’ll be recognized for recommending it.
However, pay close attention to how you present your solutions. Sadly, IT has a lot of stereotypes to overcome, and if you dispense knowledgeable advice with the wrong tone, you’re likely to seem arrogant. No one wants an arrogant techie bossing them around, especially not the c-suite.
Instead of boldly telling people what they should do, warm them up so they’re receptive to the new solution you’re suggesting. Start by asking the following four questions, and then follow up with your advice.
- What exact problem are you trying to solve?
- How does solving this problem help you accomplish your goals?
- What barriers stand between you and your goals at this time?
- How would solving this problem benefit other business units or the entire organization?