Are IT Managers Really Needed?

by drjim on July 28, 2016

Are IT managers really needed in most organizations?

Are IT managers really needed in most organizations?
Image Credit: Alex Abian

As an IT manager, I’m pretty sure that you think that you are hot stuff. You provide your company with a valuable service and if you were not there, then they would miss you and your IT manager skills. However, there is a flip side to this thought – is it possible that you are no longer needed and if you weren’t there nobody would notice?

What Happens At Firms That Don’t Have IT Managers

The easiest way to start this discussion might to be by talking about the untalkable. Specifically, what might life be like at companies that don’t have any IT managers. We’ve not had any IT manager training that taught us how to deal with this situation. It turns out that there are actually a lot of these companies out there. The most famous of these may be the successful and high-flying Zappos.com.

At firms that don’t have IT managers, a number of interesting observations have been made. You actually can run a small company without any IT managers – when anything needs to be done, people just pitch in and help out. However, as the company starts to become larger, problems start to show up. This will show up as projects that are not being completed and as workers who are unsure of just exactly what they should be working on.

One of the key measures of any company is how productive their employees are. When you don’t have any IT managers, this can quickly start to go down. Middle managers are needed in order to coordinate work that is being done on multiple projects. Additionally, workers require supervision. This supervision includes getting praise when they do good work and being blamed when work does not get done.

Why IT Managers Are Important To Have

When you talk with workers who are not being managed by an IT manager, what you’ll quickly discover is that what they are missing is any reason to push hard to accomplish tasks. This is because nobody will know about it if they do. All too easily workers can start to get the feeling that not too much is really going to be expected of them so they don’t have to deliver very much. What’s missing here is some IT team building.

Another problem that shows up in work environments that don’t have IT managers is that it becomes very hard to make decisions. Endless discussions just seem to go on and on. Since any employee can join any discussion even if it is outside of their area of expertise, there never seems to be an end to any of these discussions. Unfortunately, what does come out of these types of discussions are few answer or plans. It becomes very hard for the company to keep moving forward.

Something that a lot of companies that are thinking about doing away with IT managers don’t spend a lot of time thinking about is where employees will get answers to questions if they don’t have a boss to go to. What happens is that there is a constant flow of questions from employees about small issues such as company expense polices and the only people who can answer these are the senior management. This means that the senior management’s time gets taken up dealing with lots and lots of small issues that really should have been handled by bosses.

What All Of This Means For You

Yes, it is true that if you read the newspaper or take a look at stories online, you will probably see more and more stories about companies that are trying out a new organizational approach where they do away with IT managers. This is trendy, popular and is getting a lot of press. However, is it the right thing for firms to be doing?

At firms that don’t have any IT managers, it turns out that the size of the firm really matters. The larger the firm, the greater the need for IT managers is. Larger firms without IT managers start to discover that projects are not being completed and workers are unsure about what they should be working on. Decisions become hard to make and despite holding lengthy meetings that are attended by people who really should not be there, no plans are being made or executed.

In the end, it sure looks like all of us need someone to tell us what to do. The reason that these firms are doing away with their IT managers is because they’ve gotten a bad reputation of hindering innovation and slowing things down. The firms that don’t have IT managers are now discovering that IT managers really are needed and in fact make the company run both faster and better.

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

Question For You: If your company proposed doing away with IT managers, how would you stop them?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So here’s an interesting question for you: have you ever become angry at work? If you’ve been working for any length of time, the answer to this question has to be “yes” – we all have. Now comes the much bigger question: what did you do about it? It turns out that there are right things and wrong things to do when we become angry at work.

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