What Matters Most

What makes an IT shop one of the Best Places to Work in IT? Great benefits? Fascinating work? A beautiful locale? Free cappuccino? This year, we dont have to guess. As part of our 2007 Best Places survey, Computerworld and IDG Research asked more than 27,000 IT professionals that very question.

Their answers are nothing short of amazing.

More people we surveyed (87%) agreed with this response than any other: I have a good relationship with my supervisor.

That was followed closely by those (86%) who agreed with this response: Our company is run ethically and honestly.

If youre not blown away by that, consider how these IT pros answered the question, Whats most important to you? The most-agreed-to statement (95%): I have a good relationship with my co-workers. Next most-agreed-to (86%): I am proud to work for my company.

Good working relationships. Ethics and honesty. Pride. Those are the things that mark great IT workplaces above everything else.

Theyre more pervasive than job security or career growth or interesting work. Reasonable workloads? A clear mission for IT? Sure, those are often found in our Best Places to Work. But theyre not at the top of the list.

Its true that a great place to work needs competitive pay. It needs a good benefits plan and opportunities for employees to grow in their knowledge and their careers. Parties and popcorn dont hurt, either.

But no increase in the payroll, benefits, training or free-food budgets can deliver what these IT people say is most important to them. You cant buy your way into being a great place to work. Its got to come from an organizations culture.

Thats a truly stunning statement about our values in IT. Money is nice, technology is fun, careers are important. But above all, we care about people, about doing the right thing, and about being proud of what we do.

It doesnt stop there, though. These arent just noble values. Theyre not just necessary pieces of a great IT workplace.

Theyre also critical elements for an IT shop to contribute to the success of the business.

Consider: When IT people have good relationships with their managers and co-workers, they communicate. They listen. They cooperate. They care about their own success, but they also care about the success of everyone on the team.

And as their circle of co-workers expands to include users on the business side their partners in building business systems theyre more likely to care about the success of those users as well. Good relationships bring organizations together and focus everyone on success.

Consider: When IT people see ethical, honest behavior as a fundamental value of their organizations, that clears away huge amounts of uncertainty. Telling the truth and doing the right thing become the culture. The success of the business isnt tied to backstabbing, cheating and lying, but to competing hard and winning cleanly.

More than that, an honest company culture encourages honest employees who deliver their best work and arent afraid to admit when something has gone wrong while theres still time to correct it.

And consider: When IT people are proud of their company, theyll make damned sure that their own work is something to be proud of, too. No slacking, no corner-cutting, no half efforts its not about doing just enough to get by; its about doing great work that truly contributes to the success of the organization.

Good working relationships. Ethics and honesty. Pride. Maybe we really shouldnt be so amazed after all that these are the things most valued by IT people at the Best Places to Work.

They just happen to be the things that make for a best place to succeed with IT, too.

Frank Hayes, Computerworlds senior news columnist, has covered IT for more than 20 years. Contact him at frank_hayes@ computerworld.com.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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