You won't last long as an IT manager if you can't keep things balanced

You won’t last long as an IT manager if you can’t keep things balanced
Image Credit: HomeSpot HQ

Let’s face it: your life can easily get out of balance. Look, you are a complicated person who has a lot of different responsibilities that you need to meet all at the same time. Yes, you are an IT manager with IT manager skills and that is probably a big part of your life, but you may also be a husband / wife / boyfriend / girlfriend / parent / etc., you may belong to a church / Boy Scout troop / civic organization / etc. Oh, and their there’s the issue of keeping your weight down and your abs up. Just exactly how are we to go about doing all of this?

The Big Three Ways We Keep Our Balance

The first thing that we need to realize in order to keep our lives in balance is that we’ve just been given one body with which to make it through this life. What that means is that if you don’t keep it in shape, you’re not going to be able to make it to the end of this race. Sorry, there’s no IT manager training for this. When things get busy at work and your team really needs your time, that’s when you start to drop the ball – you eat poorly and you don’t take the time to exercise. The key here is that you don’t want to get yourself into a situation where you have to say “I can’t do that” because of how you feel. Exercise is something that you need to do every day.

Jobs come and jobs go. If your current job went away today, you’d find yourself at home with your family (or home alone calling your family on the phone). What would that be like – do they still know you? We need to understand that our family relations are the most important relations that we’ll ever have. You always have to be working to improve these because they are a long-term project.

It turns out that if you want to live to an old age, you need to develop a robust set of social connections. You want to have a large and varied group of friends that you can turn to when it’s time to go do something. These friends need to be people that you do things with outside of work – you can include people from work, but you need to interact outside of work. If your work is causing you to sacrifice your friendships because you have no time for anyone, then you are making the wrong types of decisions.

The Next Three Helpers

One of the things that can cause all of us to experience a great deal of grief is our personal finances. That’s why you need to take a look at where you currently stand and evaluate if this is where you want to be right now. Are you working towards saving for retirement or are you spending it all today? What you want to do is to feel as though you are in control and that you have options as to what you can do with your money. If you find that you are working too much and have too little money, then clearly something is out of whack.

How do you feel about your job? When the alarm clock goes off in the morning, do you roll out of bed ready to take on another day? Or do you feel as though you are just running in circles not getting anywhere? You are investing time, energy and effort into your job. The question that you need to be able to answer is how is that paying off for you? Are you getting the results that you want?

A lot of people will put their spiritual health at the bottom of the list, but perhaps you should not be doing this. This does not necessarily mean going to church (although it can). Each of us has a spiritual side to us – what makes us feel whole, why are we hear, what is our purpose? Every so often you need to revisit these questions and make sure that you can still answer them. When we find ourselves working too much, things can get out of balance and we’ll forget to do a spiritual self-check. Don’t let this happen to you. Take the time to make sure that your priorities are in line with what really matters to you.

What All Of This Means For You

In order to be a successful IT manager, you need to keep things in balance so you can do other things, like IT team building. What this means is that yes, you can spend a lot of time at work but no, you can’t forget about all of the other things in your life that really matter. A key part of keeping things in balance is being aware of what really matters.

In order to keep things balanced in our lives, we need to understand that our goal is to make it through this life using the one body that we’ve been given. This means that our health is a key to our ability to accomplish what we’ve set out to do. This is not a journey that we are undertaking by ourselves, we have our family to help us along. However, we need to take the time to maintain our relationships with the various members of our family so that they’ll be there when we need them. Studies have shown that if we want to live a long time, we need to have a robust set of social connections. This means that we need to create and maintain a diverse group of friends. Our financial health will determine how happy we are. As will how we feel about our job. Finally, our spiritual health has to do with being able to answer a set of fundamental questions and we need to check in to make sure that we still know these answers.

Keeping your life in balance is not an easy thing to do. There are a wide variety of forces that are both pushing and pulling you at all times. However, the good news is that it can be done. You need to be aware that this is a critical skill and you need to take the time to work at it. Keep your balance and you’ll be a great IT manager!

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

Question For You: What steps should you take if you discover that you your life has become out of balance?

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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

Resiliency is a word that I’m pretty sure that most of us have heard before, but I’m not quite sure if we all know just exactly what it means. I mean, we know it’s a good thing, but what is it? It turns out that resiliency is having the ability to adjust to change or disruption, being able to move on from a negative event to more positive events. This sounds like a great thing for any IT team to have, but what can you as an IT manager do to use your IT manager skills to help them to get more of it?

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What should your team's office look like?

What should your team’s office look like?

Image Credit: Andy Davies

So here’s something that most IT managers don’t spend a lot of time thinking about because we don’t have any IT manager training in doing it; however, perhaps we should. The offices that our IT teams are working in. Generally speaking, the company that we work for has either purchased or leased an office space, our team is assigned to this space, and we move in and that’s it. However, if you take just a moment to think about it, the environment that we all work in is actually very important to just how productive your team is going to be. Is there something that you can do about this?

My Experiences With Offices

I can tell you from my own personal experience that the office space that I work in affects how much work I am able to complete. In my first job, the office was layed out in what has come to be viewed as the “classical” office fashion. The office was made up of rows that were separated by high office partitions. Each row had enough room for fourteen desks to be arranged from front to back with an aisle that extended along the row in between the two lines of desks. This meant that I had no privacy and I spent my day looking at the back of the head of the person who sat in front of me. Phone calls and anything else that was going on in my aisle were an ongoing distraction.

Things got a bit better when I moved on and finally got my first cube. I was in a cube with three walls that then opened up to a hallway. The person sitting across from me had the same arrangement and so anything that went on in his cube was potentially a distraction to me. The higher walls in this cube did a good job of filtering out the distractions of what was going on around me, but loud conversations could still start in another cube and end up distracting me.

One of the last office environments that I was in consisted of a very expensive “open office” arrangement. This meant that everyone had their own “cube”, but it had effectively no walls. It had a low partition that ran around it simply to define your space, but you could see clear across the room and you could hear a phone conversation a long way away. Earphone or earplugs were a requirement in this office setup. Visual distractions were everywhere because you could see anything that was happening on the floor.

Office Design Considerations

So what should IT managers be thinking about when they use their IT manager skills to start to consider what office layout would work best for their IT team? One of the first things that they need to realize is that efficiency is not everything! If you leave it up to the company to design the layout of the office that your team uses, the focus will be on productivity – how can things be arranged so that people can get the most work done? The problem with these layouts is that generally the team members hate them. They feel that they’ve been reduced to numbers and they don’t like the utilitarian environment that these layouts create.

Right now the concept of an “open layout” is hot stuff in the world of office design. The motivation for using this type of design is to promote more collaboration. However, what happens is that any sense of privacy that a team member may have had is taken away. Surveys of workers in open layouts have revealed that they sorely miss their sound and visual privacy. What this means for you is that you need to make sure that if you adopt this type of design you allow your team members to retain some form of privacy.

So what should a team’s workplace look like? It really has a lot to do with what your goals as an IT manager are. What you want your team members to do is to walk more and be more active during the typical work day. If it is at all possible you want to incorporate more plants and natural lighting into the office to create an inviting environment. Ultimately, you want to provide your team with a bright varied setting that consists of different materials and different textures that will help them to focus on their work and get more done.

What All Of This Means For You

As an IT manager, you may spend a lot of time working about the details of what it takes to mange your team: staffing, project management, IT team building, and coaching. However, there may be bigger issues that you should be dealing with also. The office space that you are expecting your team to work in may be a key factor in how productive they are.

During my career I have experienced a number of different work environments that all had their pluses and minuses. In today’s office designs you need to makes sure that the office space is not designed just for efficiency. Your team members will recognize and reject this approach. Open layouts are quite popular now. However, an open layout takes a team member’s privacy away and so you need to make sure there is a way to restore it if you adopt this approach. In the end, providing a bright environment that requires walking and action is the key to having a happy and productive team.

If you can improve your team’s work environment, then you’ll end up making your team happier. A happy team is one that other workers will want to join and so this could solve some of your staffing challenges. Take the time to understand what office layout will work best with your team and then go out and make it happen!!

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

Question For You: In an open office design, what would be the best way to provide your workers with some form of privacy?

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

Let’s face it: your life can easily get out of balance. Look, you are a complicated person who has a lot of different responsibilities that you need to meet all at the same time. Yes, you are an IT manager with IT manager skills and that is probably a big part of your life, but you may also be a husband / wife / boyfriend / girlfriend / parent / etc., you may belong to a church / Boy Scout troop / civic organization / etc. Oh, and their there’s the issue of keeping your weight down and your abs up. Just exactly how are we to go about doing all of this?

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