Many organizations have developed expansive IT departments in recent years as a direct result of rapid changes in information technology. There have been revolutionary changes in the way corporations, businesses, and people communicate because of the IT revolution. IT departments can no longer be in the background as support units are contacted only when there is a glitch in the system. IT has become an integral part of the business unit. Its capabilities have moved from, “IT-centric functions into business processes” (Narula, 2006, p. 25). Communication flows back, forth, and through the IT department. This makes it necessary for IT departments to become assertive in their communication management to keep the whole organization’s IT infrastructure running. This is the basis for the interest in 360-degree influential communication. IT departments need it to succeed in their role. I identified three major themes for an interview with an IT manager at a medium-sized organization to gain insight into the role of 360-degree influential communication. The themes were clarity, speed of communication, and specific challenges associated with 360-degree influential communication evaluated from an IT perspective.
360-degree Communication and Clarity
My initial attitude towards clarity in communication was that clarity is fundamental to 360-degree influential communication. I asked the manager what her view was on this issue. She stated that clarity is not only critical for 360-degree influential communication in the IT department but is also critical for all forms of communication. She continued to say that as a service department, IT required precise information from all its clients from other departments for the provision of effective services. She said, “IT is no longer an isolated department in the backrooms and the ducts, it has become a fundamental component of every organization driving its information network”. She also intimated that IT suffers a lot in terms of poor communication from other departments because of confusion of terms and poor description of problems. It necessitates sending technicians to every location where there is a fault to ascertain the nature of the fault. This leads to a loss of time. If the IT department received clear information, more time would go to providing solutions. No wonder Heckers, (2003) states, “make sure your initial communication is clear”.
Effect of 360-degree Communication on the Speed of Communication
My initial feeling towards 360-degree influential communication is that it was a timewaster. I felt that way because it takes too much time to get everyone informed and to get feedback. When I asked the IT manager what she felt about this, she said that in some respects, I was right, but in totality, I was wrong. She explained that while 360-degree influential communication stresses keeping everyone in the loop, its actual implementation requires discretion. What qualifies as critical information required by one department may be a total nuisance to another. She stressed that 360-degree influential communication is not an excuse for dumping everything on everyone. It is ensuring that relevant contact remains alive between IT and other departments. The key lesson I picked up from her explanation was the need for discretion when communicating to other departments because lack of discretion may cause them to be ineffective and consume much time.
Challenges of 360-degree influential communication
I sought to understand the challenges that she faced when executing 360-degree influential communication. She stated that her major challenges included the time required for information processing, identification of information objectives, and response time for queries sent out to other departments. “Each piece of information that should be communicated requires being adapted to its audience.” She stated. Then she continued, “This takes time to do yet ignoring this means that 360-degree influential communication will not be achieved”. On information objectives, she stated that IT’s information needs are largely technical, and require translation to terms the rest of the organization understands. If the objective is unclear or if its expression is poor, communication suffers. The third challenge of slow response time is related to the time some of the departments take to respond to the queries the IT department posts. She identified it as a major hindrance to 360-degree influential communication which presupposes efficient back and forth communication.
Experience and Conclusion
The experience of interviewing an IT manager on 360-degree influential communication proved very enlightening. I realized that communication is an essential part of providing IT services. Previously, my attitude towards IT was that it is a technical service that does not require much interaction with the rest of the business environment. Secondly, I appreciated the growing role of IT in organizations as a key department. IT influence in business determines the competitiveness of some organizations. This role will continue to grow with time as more businesses embrace IT-based systems to run their operations. In conclusion, IT departments require more involvement and application of 360-degree influential communication from current levels, because of its growing role as a central unit in the operations of businesses. Upcoming IT professionals will not afford to remain as “geeks” tucked away in backrooms. The satisfactory performance of their jobs will increasingly demand that they step out and engage in 360-degree influential communication because it is “an essential function of enterprise” (Luecke, 2003, p. ix).
Heckers, J. (2003). Effective Office Communication is a Key to Job Survival. Web.
Luecke, R. (2003). Business Communication. Boston, MA: Havard Business Press.
Narula, U. (2006). Business Communication Practices: Modern Trends. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors.