By Wayne Turmel

Man using tablet pc beside servers in data centerSometimes I wake up in the morning and ask myself, “What can I do or say that will make people scream in outrage?” It’s just the kind of guy I am. Today’s heresy is simple. Your team’s communication technology is too important to leave to the folks in IT.

But aren’t those the folks who are supposed to be in charge of, you know, information technology? Yes, they are, and they are wonderful folks who aren’t really there to make your life difficult (really.) There is one important thing you need to remember: just as you don’t do their jobs, they don’t do yours.

Here’s a typical example. In teaching WebEx, Lync and other tools to organizations around the world, I’ve noticed that most people use only a fraction of the tools and features. IT is actually among the worst offenders. I think there are some good (not completely solid) reasons for that:

  • IT’s job mostly is responding to emergencies. As a result, quick screen sharing is usually sufficient. They don’t need to upload presentations in advance or use polling, or other tools as part of their everyday work
  • They learned the tools a long time ago, and like most people, use just enough of the tools to get their work done. Since they are more productive using the features they do use, it’s enough.
  • They’re the IT department but that doesn’t mean they’re the ones who should be teaching you. They actually get less training on the tools than most people, because it’s assumed they’re “tech-y and they’ll get it.” Do you want to rely on someone who barely knows a tool, or is using it at a basic level, to teach it to your team?

Doing a quick screen share to solve a problem is not the same as doing a marketing webinar. Getting the network online doesn’t require the same presentation skills as a major presentation to a big client. For your team to get the most from communication tools, you should start with what you want to accomplish with the tool, then find resources in your field with sufficient expertise to help develop those skills. IT can help, to be sure, but it’s hardly fair to expect them to be more proficient at your job than you are at theirs.

Are your people maximizing the technology at their disposal? How can IT help? More importantly, who else (inside or outside your organization) can help you get to the level of communication needed to be successful?

At The Remote Leadership Institute, we have many resources that can help as well. Check out our Certificate Series here or one of our many individual courses here.

About the author:

rsz_wayne_turmel-2Wayne Turmel is the founder and president of, and the co-founder of the Remote Leadership Institute. For 20 years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It- a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Marshall Goldsmith calls him “one of the unique voices to listen to in the virtual workplace”. Follow him on Twitter at @greatwebmeeting!

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  1. This post is a great “heads up” to ask appropriate questions for virtual teams. I remember when I was doing my Thesis on team development of virtual teams and attribution bias, that before I could even tackle team development and attribution bias theories the research review was showing considerable problems with the basics. These basics included team members all using different software, each location had different technical issues related to internet speeds, new to aged available tech, and different levels of experience related to all the above. If you do not get a competent level of understanding on equipment, software, and the degree it will be used or can perform, then taking the team to specific task goals that the team was intended to be put together in the first place will become useless or extremely delayed.

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