DAILY INSIGHT: Toot your own horn

By Steven M. Baule, CIO Advisor

Last time I sent my thoughts out into the blogosphere, I wrote about the need to invite your superintendent and executive types into the “bowels of the network” so they could see the infrastructure up close and get a better understanding of the “boxes and wires” a previous superintendent used to complain he didn’t want to talk about.

Since that time, I have had the wonderful experience of being called on by a colleague to discuss the random actions of another administrator. (Thankfully, not one of mine!) The administrator in question was displaying what I might refer to as “pre-termination” activities. Among other things, he was upset his secretary wanted to take sick time to have surgery. He told her that would make him look bad and therefore she would need to take the time off without pay! (How some people think at times really does astound me!) However, besides yelling at his own staff for being human and occasionally sick, he also went on one of those rants that reoccurs throughout the hallowed halls of education from time to time: “They shouldn’t evaluate me, since they don’t know what I do!”

I need to speak to that notion on two levels. First, if they are your supervisor they have the right to evaluate you. Being unhappy you are being evaluated is silly. We all have bosses and we all should be evaluated each year. At the minimum, it is an opportunity to discuss your performance and aspirations for professional growth over the next evaluation cycle.

Secondly, if your supervisor doesn’t understand what you do and your role and value to the district, it is your fault. Those of us who have worked in school technology will inevitably have a boss at some time that doesn’t really know anything more about the IT resources we manage than they do about alchemy. You need to ensure your boss knows what you do, at least in enough detail to be supportive of your work. Those whose boss doesn’t understand and value their job are those employees most vulnerable to elimination in tough economic times. So, ensure your supervisor does understand what you do and how that provides value to the organization.

For those of us with supervisors who don’t really understand what we do every day, I would suggest using one or more of the following to better educate them:

  1. Consider a short weekly e-mail with some bullet points of the main items you completed or worked on in the previous week.
  2. Have a weekly or bi-weekly status meeting with your boss/team to ensure everyone knows what is going on and how the whole IT department fits together.
  3. If your tasks are directed from a help desk, etc., show your supervisor how to review the ticket log or send the log to him/her every week or two so they can see what you are doing.
  4. Offer to give them a tour of your systems, etc. (see my last blog).
  5. Offer to present to the Board or cabinet on what the IT department has been doing for the past six months, etc., and ensure they know what is going on in the background.

Remember, if your boss doesn’t know what you are doing, it is as much your fault as his or hers. Make sure you communicate with your boss and—at evaluation time—you should be able to walk away happy and content that your boss knows about all of the good work you do on behalf of the school or district.

Steven M. Baule is superintendent of North Boone CUSD 200 in Poplar Grove, IL. He has written several books on aspects of library and technology management and planning.