Would members of your team run through a wall for you?

Would members of your team run through a wall for you?
Image Credit: Niels Linneberg

As an IT manager, you know that in the future there will probably be tough times. It’s easy for your team to say that they support you when everything is going well. However, when the chips are down and you are experiencing tough times, would they still feel the same way? The answer is probably no – if you have not done anything to make some IT team building happen. What can you do to get your team to support you all the time?

Create A Clear Vision

In order for your team to follow you, you are going to use your IT manager skills to provide them with something to believe in. Ultimately what we are talking about here is a vision. As the IT manager, it is your responsibility to paint a clear picture of what the future can look like so that your team understands what they are trying to achieve.

With a little luck, your company has already created a vision. They have probably tried to communicate it to everyone via speeches by senior management, emails, and perhaps even badge extenders that have been sent to everyone. However, have they been successful in capturing the attention of your team?

If not, then it’s going to be up to you to take the company vision and make it so that your team can believe in it. If it turns out that the company vision is “too big” for your team to rally behind, then you’ve got more work to do. You’ll need to take that vision, use your , IT manager training, and relate it to what your team is working on and create a custom vision for your team to believe in.

Show Results

Teams will support people who can prove that they can accomplish tasks. What this means for you is that you have a challenge lying ahead of you. You need to determine what results look like for your team.

Once you understand how what your team is working on relates to what the company is trying to accomplish, then you are half-way there. The next step is going to be to determine what kind of metrics can be measured to show how successful the company is being.

Your final task is going to be to relate the company’s success to your team’s efforts. I’ve had to do this a number of times before and it is not easy to do. However, take the time to understand how all of the various pieces and parts are related and then explain it to your team. Knowing that what they are working on makes a difference will be a very big deal to all of them.

Be Inclusive

Finally, one of the biggest challenges that an IT manager has is to make sure that you are inclusive. What this means is that you are going to have to make sure that you find ways to include everyone who is a member of your team in the things that you do.

It can be all too easy to take the easy way out and only work closely with those high performers on your team who seek you out. You know what I’m talking about: the team members who constantly show results are the ones that you want to work with.

However, don’t let this happen. Instead, take the time to make sure that you understand exactly who is on your team and make sure that you create time to work with each and every one of them. By doing this you will bring the team together – everyone will be left with a real sense of belonging to something that is bigger than them. It also means that when you are not there, they will be more likely to help each other out.

What All Of This Means For You

In order to be a successful IT manager, you need to know that your IT team has your back. This has to happen in both the good times and the bad times. It is your responsibility to discover how to create this kind of support within your team.

There are a number of different ways to go about making this happen. A great way to start is to provide your team with a very clear vision of just exactly what the company and the team are trying to accomplish. Next, you are going to want to be able to show the team the results of their efforts. Let them understand why they are doing the work that they are doing. Finally, you’ll need to find ways to be inclusive. Everyone on the team has to feel as though they are a part of the team.

As an IT manager you have been given a team. That does not mean that the group of people that you have working for you really support you. What needs to happen is that you need to find ways to shape them into a single unit that will support you in both the good times and the bad times. Follow these three suggestions and you’ll be able to create a team that will run through walls for you!

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you have to create a vision for your team in addition to the company’s vision?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Every IT manager dreams of being handed a fantastic team that knows what needs to be done and with a very little bit of direction from you gets right on it. Although this image is a great one to have, all too often our reality is quite different. The team that we are handed is often broken. The previous IT manager was unable to accomplish what was being asked of him or her and has either left or been moved to another project. You are being brought in to fix things. Are your IT manager skills going to be up to this task?

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Can You Do More By Giving Up Control?

by drjim on February 19, 2015

It's not easy, but sometimes letting go lets you do more

It’s not easy, but sometimes letting go lets you do more

Image Credit: David Goehring

Most of us who have become IT managers did it by first being IT workers. While we held the jobs that got us here, we learned an important lesson. That lesson was that if we wanted something done right, then we really needed to do it ourselves. Once we become IT managers, even though we now have IT manager skills things didn’t really change. We still ended up getting our hands dirty when something really had to be done the right way. Perhaps this is not the right way to be doing things…

Is It Really All About You?

So just exactly why do we think that the world revolves around us? I don’t know about you, but I believe that the reason that I thought that this was true was because I had shown it to be correct. Even after I became an IT manager and had a team of smart, bright folks assigned to me, I continued to think that I was the only one who could do certain tasks correctly. None of my IT manager training had taught me any differently.

However, that might have been the case when I was a member of the team, but when I was picked to lead the team, things changed. As an IT manager I had less time to do the things that I had been doing before. What this meant was that my days were now being spent making lots and lots of decisions about my team. The net result of all of this time that was spent making decisions was that I ended up not having enough time to really focus on any one thing for very long. This is when the problems started to show up.

This is when I had to take a step back and evaluate how I was performing my job. It turns out that I was probably holding my team back by continuing to do the tasks that I had always done. There really was no good reason for this – I was doing them because I had always done them.

How Big Should You Go?

It had become clear that I needed to hand off some of the things that I had been doing. This was not an easy decision for me to reach. Once I had made the decision to let things go, I needed to make another decision: just exactly how much should I let go?

As you can probably guess, I had a couple of different ways that I could go about relinquishing control. I could gradually give up bits and pieces of what I had been doing or I could go all in and just dump it all at once. The easy answer was to do it gradually, the hard answer was to take the leap and drop everything.

In the end, I did the hard thing and gave it all away in one fell swoop. The reason that I chose to do it this way is because innovation is what my IT team is all about. I needed to task another member of my team with the complete responsibility for performing a task and let them find ways to make it better. If I had given it away bit-by-bit then they probably would have just ended up doing it the way that I do it today.

What All Of This Means For You?

Becoming an IT manager is all about change and if there is one thing that most of us don’t really like, it’s change. All too often our mindset is that if we want something done right, then we just need to roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves. It turns out that this might be all wrong…

As IT managers, we now have a lot of additional responsibilities that we never had before. If we hang on to performing tasks that we’ve always done, we’re going to find that we simply don’t have the time to do everything well. This means that we need to give things up – it’s almost like a form of IT team building. We need to decide if we’re going to do this in pieces or all at once. I decided to do it all at once so that my team could be more innovative.

I’ve got to be honest with you, it was not a comfortable feeling when I gave up responsibility for things that I had been doing for a long time. However, I’ve got to hand it to my team – they’ve done a great job of picking up where I left off and in some cases they are actually doing a better job. My days are just as busy as they used to be – clearly I should have done this a long time ago!

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you can give up too much too soon? How would you be able to tell?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental IT Leader Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental IT Leader Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

As an IT manager, you know that in the future there will probably be tough times. It’s easy for your team to say that they support you when everything is going well. However, when the chips are down and you are experiencing tough times, would they still feel the same way? The answer is probably no – if you have not done anything to make some IT team building happen. What can you do to get your team to support you all the time?

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