"We need an Interpreter in here!" Language barriers between IT and Executive teams.

Portrait of young man shouting loudly using megaphone

Communication is key to any healthy relationship. It’s even harder when it’s cross-cultural.  We do a lot of technology assessments for credit unions that cover not just technology but technology operations for the whole credit union.  While there are both short term, high-value road-map achievements and long-term gains that come out of the work together with the credit union, one key benefit we see every time is improved communication.  When every area shares their use (or non-use) of technology, and their views on technology, and that is then communicated to the executive team and technology teams, amazing things start to happen. We see things ‘known’ by one group (IT, CEO, or Exec leaders) for years but never address or understood by others come to light.  We see alignment on the next steps with passion and excitement about what is now possible. So in that light, here are a few quick reminders on how we can better communicate between two groups that speak different languages.

  • First, make time to talk to build up a relationship. If business and IT aren’t trying to talk, then no communication is possible. 
  • Ask questions of each other and listen to the answers. Make sure it’s safe to ask questions. Business leaders are not going to know IT acronyms and IT isn’t going to the business acronyms.
  • Remember that the background and experience you have may not be shared (at all) by the other party. Many IT leaders didn’t get business or finance training. Most business leaders don’t have a technical background.
  • Use stories, examples, and metaphors to communicate complex ideas. The other party doesn’t need to know the details (TCP packets or DCF analysis) but they do need to understand the potential business impact, risks, and benefits.
  • Whenever possible talk about services and business impact instead of about technology widgets and devices.
  • Always remember tone and body language are important for communication and open dialog. If the tone and body language are open, it’s easier to ask for clarification, to redirect if there is too much detail happening, or to get back on point.

We see many credit unions who have opened up healthy and fruitful communication channels between business and technology. It is critical for our industry and your credit union’s success. Technology needs to be helping drive the business goals forward and be a catalyst for what credit unions are trying to accomplish. IT and executive teams share the burden to unlock these language barriers, and the credit union depends on this crucial and bilateral communication channel.