BIMBeing: The Journey #14
#14 – You’re the IT guy as well…
Photo by Fauxels of Pexels
Something that has cropped up on an almost daily basis throughout my BIM career is the assumption that because BIM is “a bit techy” we are automatically an extension of the IT department; I’m sure that many of you will have experienced the same. You really can’t blame team members around you for not fully understanding the role of a BIM team or for not knowing who to turn to with technical queries. Most people in BIM roles still don’t understand the role properly either, so we must appreciate the confusion and do what we can to support them. The only other option is telling people to **** off, which is often frowned upon.
Whilst continuing to try and champion the needs of the project and educate everyone in the purpose and benefits of BIM, from time to time the message is still getting lost; sometimes if you can’t beat them, you really should just join them. Nevertheless, I continue to be amused by some of the daily queries that arise:
- Can you help me connect to the new printer?
- Why is my email account not working?
- Why has my laptop disconnected from the WiFi?
- I’ve forgotten my password …
- Do you have any spare cables for the projector?
- I’m having trouble with Word/Excel/Powerpoint…
- Do you know why my laptop isn’t charging?
- Can you give Person A access to the server?
- Do you have a spare extension lead?
- Are you able to install some software for me?
- How do I get a software licence for …?
The list goes on… and on and on and on. This also doesn’t include any of the daily ‘technical’ queries that actually relate to our job role either, questions about Revit and the like. Now BIM may not be an extension of the IT department, but most of us would admit that it ‘being a bit techy’ is actually quite true. Therefore, most of us BIM’ers can support the above with relative ease.
As amusing as some of the queries may be, I’m actually quite glad that the questions are being asked, and so should you be. If people are coming to you looking for help it means you’re doing something right, and although it may be frustrating from time to time, you should embrace these small opportunities to engage with the team. Here’s why:
1. Being approachable
Approachability is an interesting characteristic, not easily described or taught but incredibly valuable. If people feel that they are able to come and speak with you, especially for the more trivial questions, it shows that they feel some level of comfort in being able to do so. It also shows that they have at least a small amount of confidence in your ability to be able to help them, and even though it may be for something incredibly minor, that’s still important. It’s a compliment of sorts and it’s part of the foundations of professional relationships; don’t turn people away unnecessarily because “it’s not my job” as this will wreck the relationship that’s being built.
2. BIM isn’t insular
BIM is all about collaboration and efficiency, it’s not about slumping quietly in a corner with you headphones in, staring at your PC like a zombie. Engaging with people is incredibly important, if nothing else it will make your day more exciting. People coming over to ask a question more often than not can lead to other conversations as well, which can be really beneficial. The person coming over may notice something intriguing on your screen, a particular model or new piece of software, and that sparks a topical conversation that may be both interesting and educational – further spreading the BIM message is crucial. It can also lead to wider discussions about the project, a task or job role in which you’re not familiar, so you may learn something new as well. Ofcourse it could just lead to a conversation about sport, TV or dare I say it, politics; well, we all need a break from work at some point.
3. Collective benefit
If you know how to do something and the person next to you doesn’t there is a pretty obvious opportunity to impart some knowledge and lend a helping hand. It may take that person 30 minutes of googling and swearing to try and resolve their issue or leave them on hold to the IT department for an age; but you could fix their issue in 5 minutes, surely that’s more efficient? Rather than 1 person losing 30 minutes of time filled with stress and frustration plus the time spent by the IT department, you could both use 5 minutes of time (10 minutes total) to have the issue resolved quickly and efficiently – that’s collective benefit. The vast majority of you will be working within a team, so act like it. Your colleagues should be the first port of call when queries arise, that’s teamwork.
4. Favours carry forward
You should never ‘give to receive’, but it’s true that favours can carry forward. People tend to remember those that have helped them out in the past and will look upon that person far more favourably when the tables are turned. If you’ve helped the document control team fix a few technical niggles then the chances are that when you need something pushed through the EDMS they’ll be more than happy to help you out – you may even skip the queue if you’ve been really nice. Helping others will make them far more likely to help you; we all need some form of support from time to time.
This is how a good team should function, building relationships with those around you to create an environment in which the strengths of individuals are used to support the weaknesses of others. It becomes a collective learning and support exercise, promoting a team dynamic that benefits everyone. Over the past few years I’ve seen first hand how this has worked, both positively (when people are happy to help one another) and negatively (when people have shut others down and are then surprised to not receive help when they need it). The former is quite obviously the more desirable environment.
My advice, especially to those in the early days of their career, is to never turn people away. The 5 minutes out of your working day spent helping someone else will continue to pay dividends throughout your career, almost indefinitely. You’ll also get to know people and you’ll start to build a network of individuals that are both willing and able to help each other; you can learn more from the experience of others than you ever will on your own. There will be times when you can’t resolve a particular query or you’re really under pressure to turn some work around, even in these situations you should do what you can to spare a minute or two.
Quite a positive post today, in contrast to Post #13 which was really just a rant. As before, drop me an email or leave a comment below; whether it be a similar story, a useful tip or a topic for a new post I’d be glad to hear from you.