Career advice: Communicating with a global team

Premier 100 IT Leader Chris Miller also answers questions on long-term unemployment and coping with a woefully understaffed IT department

Chris Miller
Chris Miller of Avanade

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader

Chris Miller

Title: Corporate vice president and CIO

Company: Avanade

Miller is this month's Premier 100 IT Leader, answering questions about communicating with a global team, the viability of a continuing career in IT and coping with a woefully understaffed IT department. If you have a question you'd like to pose to one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to

I'm overseeing a global team right now. Naturally, communication is key. Any advice on how to keep the lines of communication open and running well? Treating team members equally regardless of physical location and holding all employees to the same expectations and standards are key to building a high-performing global team. Working across time zones can be especially difficult, but sharing the burden of inconvenient meeting times across the team will go a long way toward showing that you understand the challenges. Also, taking the time to interact informally and socially with remote co-workers just as you would with someone in the cubicle or office next to you can strengthen connections with your team members.

Our team actively leverages enterprise collaboration tools to stay in touch. We have a platform that takes advantage of technologies like social networking, unified communications and videoconferencing to foster greater collaboration and knowledge sharing. While the enabling technology may differ at each company, it is important to encourage a culture of collaboration. We have only 30% of our IT resources in our corporate headquarters, with a sizable offshore team and employees spread across Avanade's global locations, so our employees have had to find ways to work effectively as a global team. I also believe it is hard to replace in-person meetings, so I encourage our leadership team to visit our locations every 12 to 18 months.

I was laid off with hundreds of others about 14 months ago, and so far I've had no luck getting another network admin job. I'm willing and able to do other things in IT, but after so much time, I wonder whether I should just try something else. Still, it's technology that I really love. Would it be a mistake to give it all up? I believe this is a great time to be in the technology field, and quality technical resources are in high demand in many areas. Though each market is unique, overall tech-sector unemployment is lower than the national average, and with continued focus on innovation and enabling technology, that is unlikely to change soon. In any event, I would encourage you to follow your passion. Having a job you love leads to a better sense of balance, and to success in all areas of your life. Best wishes in your search.

My company has gone from 12 to 80 employees in the past four years. My IT department has gone from one to two people. It's hard to keep up; just provisioning the new employees takes a lot of our time. How can I best make the case to resistant management that IT needs to grow as well? Rather than making a case that you need more staff, focus on articulating the technology needs that you are currently unable to address. This could be in terms of new capabilities or improved service levels. You will be selling the business value that could be achieved through the growth of IT, and that will allow your leadership to make an educated decision on both the cost and potential benefits of investing in IT.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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