Peer to Peer Magazine

September 2011

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 48 of 107

Shooting a Hole Through Perceptions In some organizations, the relationship between the HR and IT departments is sketchy, each viewing the other as an entity to be endured, but not embraced (or trusted). Certainly, Michael Scott's treatment of Toby Flenderson on "The Office" has done nothing to improve this perception. HR is charged with ensuring adherence to rules, procedures and laws for the benefit and protection of the organization; something that is not always convenient for a busy IT professional who has let the deadline for a job posting creep up on him. At the same time, IT professionals are often guilty of using too many acronyms and technical terms for many non-techies to understand. Indeed, the ability to explain advanced and complex technical concepts in easy-to-understand, non- technical terms is a fine art. People who can do that verbally or in writing are worth "The more HR knows and understands your department, the more effectively they'll be able to match candidates to your needs." their salt to any IT organization. In those situations, it's normally not critical that the audience understand many of the details of the message, as long as they grasp the high-level concepts. However, when specifying job requirements to your HR department or others in your organization that might be assisting with the hiring process, being exact is as important as being understandable. And if you only hire one position in your career, it might suffice to simply pass the requirements on to HR and have them posted verbatim, but organizations are not static, and the hiring process is repeated for a variety of positions. Knowing that you'll be working with HR again and again, it's really in your best interest to educate them, develop a positive relationship with them, and use them as the very powerful ally they can be throughout the hiring — and unfortunately, yes, the firing — process. Engage with Communication As with many things in the business world, the key to fostering a good relationship with HR is communication. The recruitment and hiring processes are a large part of an HR team member's duties, so they naturally want to gain information in order to be as effective as possible. With a little proactive effort on your part, you can help them become a valuable asset in your staffing efforts. Below are a few ways to engage HR, motivate them to participate proactively in your efforts, and turn them into an effective ally. • Educate them outside of the process. The more HR knows and understands your department, the more effectively they'll be able to match candidates to 50 Peer to Peer your needs. However, the day your senior storage administrator gives her two-week notice is not the best time to start the education. Make an effort to schedule time with HR outside of a hiring cycle to deliver the information. At Thompson Coburn, members of the HR department are actively involved in maintaining job descriptions for all staff positions through an intranet- based portal. This allows them to review assigned duties and become familiar with the range of responsibilities involved in each area of administrative departments, including IT. When the time comes to recruit for an open position, they have a head start on the process. • Break down the functional areas and responsibilities within IT at a high level. Lay terms are critical at this stage — HR does not need to know how to do a bare-metal restore or put a sniffer on the network for traffic analysis. A simple explanation of storage, databases, servers, desktop devices, the network, security, etc., will do. Needless to say, this discussion will get lengthy if not kept at a very high level. Your goal should be to give them some context in which to put the snippets of techie jargon they regularly see. Introduce Your Humans Alongside Your Acronyms One good way to facilitate this whole process is to invite HR to one or more of your team meetings. Allow them to see the interaction of team members and get an idea of the separation of roles. Chances are they were involved in recruiting some of these people and remember what their strengths were from the interview process. When it comes time to hire, telling them, "We're looking for someone who can do what Chris does," might help them fully understand what you mean when you ask for a system architect with DBA experience.

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