It turns out that the best way for an IT manager to communicate is PowerPoint

It turns out that the best way for an IT manager to communicate is PowerPoint

Image Credit: Gareth Saunders

You may not have been told this when you accepted your IT manager position, but a big part of your job has to do with using your IT manager skills to master the art of communication. No matter if it’s communicating with your team, with other teams, or even other departments in the company, part of what you’ve been hired to do is to get your message across. Do you really have any idea how to do this effectively?

The Problem With The Written Word

I’m almost a bit hesitant to admit this, but when I have something that I want to communicate to my team, more often than not, based on the IT manager training that I received back in the day, I’ll sit down and either write them a lengthy email or create a new document to share with them. It turns out that this is exactly the wrong thing to do – the written word is no longer the right way for an IT manager to communicate with their team.

There are a lot of different problems with the way that we used to share information with our team (like back before there was this Internet thing). First off, there is the issue of time: it takes a great deal of time to actually write out a document. Who has the time that this is going to take? Next, there is the issue of finding the time to actually read the thing once it’s been created. Just think about how busy your team is, do you really think that any of them are going to have the time to sit down and give your document the careful attention that it really deserves?

The final nail-in-the-coffin for the process of communicating using lengthy documents is that they are very hard to change. Considering how fast things change in terms of what your team is working on and when things are due, just about the time that you complete your document, it will be completely worthless. These changes always bring up the big question: who’s going to go back and update the document later on?

PowerPoint Is Your Friend

All of these issues with creating documents to communicate with your team are enough to make any IT manager throw up their hands and give up. Don’t! It turns out that you’ve just been using the wrong tool to get your messages across. The good news is that you already know how to use the tool that you should be using: PowerPoint (or Keynote if your a Mac fan).

One of the most important features that using PowerPoint will provide you with is that the slides that you’ll create are both quick to create and quick to review. More often than not what we are trying to accomplish as IT managers is to get our team to come to an agreement about a plan. Presenting information about the plan to them using PowerPoint is agile enough to allow us to succinctly get our message across in a limited amount of time.

The other great advantage of using PowerPoint to communicate with your team is because a slide deck is simple to update when changes occur. When you’ve just gotten new information, it won’t take you long to delete the slides in your deck that are now incorrect and drop in some updated slides. A narrative set of slides allows you to tell a story that your audience is going to be able understand and then, with a little bit of luck, take action on.

What All Of This Means For You

The ability to be a good communicator is a critical skill that every successful IT manager needs to have. In order to be able to get your team to understand the message that you are trying to communicate to them, you need to pick the right way to get it to them.

It turns out that the old-fashioned way of creating a document to lay out the ideas that you want to share with your team is the wrong way to go about doing things. Instead, using PowerPoint to create a slide deck that is then used to tell your story is a much better way to get your message across. Slides allow you to quickly make changes and are easier for your intended audience to absorb. Think of using PowerPoint as being a form of IT team building.

At the end of the day, its our ability to effectively communicate what we want our team to do that will determine how successful we will be as an IT manager. Using the right medium to get our message across is a key part of this. PowerPoint turns out to be the perfect tool: it’s flexible and it allows us to quickly tell our story. Now that you know both what you need to be doing and how you should be doing it, get out there and start making some slides!

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

Question For You: Do you think that there is a “right” size to a slide deck that you create to communicate with your team?

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!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Being an IT manager can be an exciting job. There are a lot of different challenges that we need to tackle: staffing, managing, problem solving, interacting with other departments, boosting our IT manager skills, etc. However, in everyone’s IT manager career there comes a point-in-time that it starts to feel like we’ve got just about everything under control. When this happen there is the danger that we might start to become bored. This can lead to bad decision making.

{ 0 comments }

In order to do a good job of managing, you need to do a good job of telling stories

In order to do a good job of managing, you need to do a good job of telling stories
Image Credit: Loren Javier

As an IT manager you have a tough job to try to accomplish and that’s why you need so many different IT manager skills. You’ve got a team of highly skilled professionals on your team who really could be working for just about any company. It’s going to be your job to provide them with both direction on what they should be spending their time doing as well as a purpose – why should they be doing it? Looks like it’s time for some IT manager training on storytelling.

Why Stories?

One of the first questions that IT managers ask me when I start to talk to them about improving their ability to tell stories is “why?” This question is actually fairly simple to answer. Storytelling is a skill that allows the teller to explain themselves to others. By doing this, they will also develop a deeper understanding of themselves.

When you tell someone a story, you are sharing with them a journey that starts in one place and ends up in another place. The person that you are telling the story to has the ability to see both the beginning and the end of your story. How you get from the start to the finish is the key – you don’t always have to take the most efficient path. Instead, you can take the route that will allow you to cause your audience to change. It is that change that will have meaning the most for your audience.

When you are telling your team a story, how you choose to tell it is going to be critical. In order to give your story meaning, you are going to have to give it perspective. When you tell it, your voice, your emotions, etc. are all going to contribute to providing your audience with a “moment of change” when your story really hits home with them.

The Best Way For You To Tell A Story

Before you start to share a story with your team, you are going to have to be clear about what your goals are. Goals can range from what the company is trying to accomplish to trying to get your team to work more closely with other departments.

What you are going to have to realize is that anytime you tell a story to your team it is going to have to be both simple and true. What we all need realize is that at the heart of any story that you want your team to remember is going to have to be a human flaw. A mistake that you made, a judgment call that someone made that was wrong, etc. When your team hears this, they’ll start to respond to your story.

We all have great stories inside of us. We just need to discover how to let them out. Our stories can capture the attention of our teams, move them to action, and persuade them to accomplish great things. The wonderful thing is that our audiences want this to happen and they are just waiting for us to tell them a great story.

What All Of This Means For You

In this modern age in which we are currently living, it can be all too easy to get caught up in all of the clever portable electronics and powerful software that we have at our fingertips. When it comes to managing our IT team, those things need to be put away and we need to instead focus on what works for IT team building when it comes to connecting with others: telling stories.

As a manager we need to realize that becoming skilled at telling stories is going to allow us to do a better job of explaining ourselves to the members of our team. In addition, in order to tell a good story, we need to have a good understanding of ourselves and that is a critical management skill. The stories that we tell our team need to be both simple and true. Doing this will make you feel good.

In the end, your goal needs to be to both inspire and motivate your team. This is by no means an easy task. One of the most powerful ways to accomplish this is by becoming good at telling your team stories. Take the time to perfect this skill and you will have become a successful IT manager.

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

Question For You: Do you think that you should have a library of stories that you can tell at any time?

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!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

You may not have been told this when you accepted your IT manager position, but a big part of your job has to do with using your IT manager skills to master the art of communication. No matter if it’s communicating with your team, with other teams, or even other departments in the company, part of what you’ve been hired to do is to get your message across. Do you really have any idea how to do this effectively?

{ 0 comments }

Your IT Team Members: Turns Out They Can Say Anything They Want Online

June 11, 2015

As the person with the IT Manager job, do you have the IT manager skills to tell if you are doing a good job? Sure, there should be all of the standard business indicators – your IT team budget is operating within its budget, you are meeting the needs of the rest of the company, […]

Read the full article →

When Presenting To Your Team, Could Less Be More?

June 4, 2015

As an IT manager, one of your most important IT manager skills is the ability to effectively communicate with your IT team. There are a lot of different ways that we go about doing this, but one of the most popular ones is to give a presentation to our team. The problem with this is […]

Read the full article →

What IT Managers Need To Know About Giving A Great Speech

May 21, 2015

One of the primary IT manager skills that an IT manager needs to have is to be able to communicate with others. There are a lot of ways to go about doing this (email anyone?); however, one of the most effective happens when you give a speech. Yeah, yeah – I fully understand that many […]

Read the full article →

How Should IT Managers Talk With Members Of Their Team?

May 14, 2015

The secret to being a good IT manager is having the IT manager skills to truly connect with the members of your team. This is not magic, it’s actually a skill that can be learned with a little bit of IT manager training. You need to be able to sit down with each member of […]

Read the full article →

How IT Managers Can Get Good At Asking For A Bigger Budget

May 7, 2015

So how big was your IT team’s budget this year? Hmm, not big enough? Just image what you could do if you had had a bigger budget! As the planning for next year’s budgets starts to gear up, every IT manager out there dreams of getting more money so that his or her team can […]

Read the full article →

What Can The Army Teach IT Managers About Motivating Their Team?

April 30, 2015

Just leading a team of IT professionals is not enough. The company is expecting your team to accomplish very specific things. What this means for you is that you are going to have to convince your team to do things that will allow you to get those goals done. In other words, you’ll need to […]

Read the full article →

How Can IT Managers Make Their IT Team Believe?

April 23, 2015

As a leader of IT professionals it is your responsibility to use your IT manager skills to get them to pay attention to you. Good luck doing that! In today’s hyper-connected, always-on world, getting the members of our team to lift their heads up from their monitors or to glance away from their smartphones is, […]

Read the full article →

4 Tips For Creating Repeat Customers From App IT Managers

April 16, 2015

So do you have a mobile phone? I’m willing to bet that yes, you do. No matter if you have decided to go down the iPhone route or if you’ve taken the Android path, once you get past the pretty screen that your phone came with, what probably attracted you the most were all of […]

Read the full article →