If you’re running a business office for the first time, nobody needs to tell you the importance of IT staff. A survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers and GEM Education found that nearly 40 percent of business leaders in the US, UK, China, and Brazil rank IT skills as the number one most important thing a job applicant can offer their company. But which IT skills, exactly? And is being a programming whiz the only qualification for being a valuable worker? When you’re looking for people who can manage your computer network, protect your data, and be there when something goes wrong, you need to know they can succeed at the most basic tasks. No matter how impressive their resume may be, ask yourself how they’ll fare with the following.
1. Training Employees
Antisocial IT employees who sit behind their desk and have no idea how to interact with their colleagues are just no good to you. Your IT staff should develop user-friendly systems that are easy to learn, but they need the ability to teach them. This also means they need the ability to talk in front of a crowd on occasion and keep the office up to date on emerging technologies, changes in IT policies, and system updates. They should be able to explain things.
2. Know the Basics
Your IT staff should understand the basics of networking, including checking DNS and troubleshooting. They also need to know system administration – file permissions, bandwidth limitations, and latency. They should also simply be able to fix the most basic PC issues, like problems with printers and file backup. If you put your IT staff behind the help desk, they should be able to solve the most common problems that they’re likely to hear every day.
3. Work on a Team
This goes back to the importance of IT staff who have good people skills. Not every IT employee will thrive in a team environment, which is fine – it can be productive to keep the best individual workers working individually. But they should all be able to work together when needed, whether they are tackling an all-night project or developing important software. Strong IT staff members should never think of themselves as the smartest one in the room, and they should be willing to listen and learn from other people.
4. Be Self-motivated
Employees shouldn’t have to rely on their peers or the IT manager to explain every process to them. You need workers who would rather figure things out on their own and who are motivated to learn. There are IT professionals out there who much prefer getting more work than they think they can handle instead of sitting around with nothing to do, and these are the ones you should look for in the interview process. Of course, being motivated to work on their own means they will get things wrong sometimes. And that’s okay, as long as they don’t keep making the same mistake.
5. Understand Costs
IT staffs need a basic understanding of what it takes to run a business, especially the different financial commitments involved. You need workers who won’t go over budget or waste time. They should know the difference between operating and capital costs, and even know how much energy network devices are burning. When they grasp how to take money into account, they’ll be able to help you save some, which is a skill to look for in employees of every department.
As a business owner, you don’t need to understand complicated computer programming to run your office. In fact, you don’t even need IT staff who are programming experts if your industry doesn’t require it. What you need are talented professionals who can be an important part of your team both online and off.
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