Tip

Dos and don'ts when serving on an IT committee

If you're in IT, you undoubtedly get pulled into never-ending committee meetings. There is always an endless series of meetings during the planning phase of a project, and sometimes it's tough to find time to do the actual work that will get the project off the ground.

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We've all experienced the pains, the hassles, the illogical reasoning behind many business meetings. Regardless of the content or criticality of the meeting, odds are if you're good at what you do, you're almost always going to get pulled into the middle of things.

So, what can you do? Well, you could renounce your association with IT and take up landscaping. You could make yourself less valuable so no one calls on you for input. Or, you could do what's right for the business -- and your career.

First you have to learn how to cope with committee meetings. Here are the things you should do and the things you should avoid:

DO

  • Listen more than you talk. We know how we feel about the yappers that love to hear themselves talk. Don't be that person.
  • Be open-minded. Some of the best ideas regarding IT come from nontechnical people or people who are excited about technology and can envision how it'll help the business. Listen to what they have to say.
  • Think long term. Always think about the long-term results of the decisions you and your colleagues are making today. I've often found that short-term needs aren't always good for a business in the long run.
  • Understand that IT is there to make sure the rest of the business can get stuff done. This "stuff" can almost always be traced back to the essence of why the business exists: to create and keep customers.

DON'T

  • Talk over peoples' heads. It may impress a few but it'll likely turn off the majority. It's one of the best ways to lose credibility.
  • Talk down to people. It's a great way to lose trust and ultimately your job.
  • Lose your professionalism. In the eyes of others -- especially management -- it may be your greatest asset. Learn how to speak your mind in an assertive yet courteous way.
  • Interject unsolicited advice. Make your points known when the time's right in the conversation.

When serving on a business committee – or a simple ad hoc meeting – your ultimate goal is to become and remain a person of value. Be the leader by stepping out of your technical mindset and looking at the bigger picture. You'll not only get a mental break, but you'll also learn some new things along the way.

Kevin Beaver, is an information security consultant, keynote speaker and expert witness with Atlanta-based Principle Logic LLC. Kevin specializes in performing independent security assessments. Kevin has authored/co-authored seven books on information security, including Hacking For Dummies and Hacking Wireless Networks For Dummies (Wiley). He's also the creator of the Security on Wheels information security audio books and blog providing security learning for IT professionals on the go. He can be reached at kbeaver@principlelogic.com.

This was first published in November 2009

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