IT managers are asked to do a lot of things during the average day: recruit new workers, keep the ones that they already have, resolve disputes, etc. The one thing that they also need to be doing every day is probably the thing that gets overlooked all too often: manage their careers.
Just What Is Career Development?
When we start to talk about career development, it brings up the question of just exactly what is a “career”? Maybe more importantly, what’s the difference between a career and a “job”?
I think that we can all agree that a job is a set of tasks that you work on for a given company. A sequence of jobs is what makes up your career. When we start to talk about career development, what we are really talking about is a process that you go though in which you take a look at where you are in your work life. You need to decide if you are where you want to be, and if not then you need to decide what changes you need to make and then you need to make them.
Every job that you have makes you more valuable to both your current employer as well as the next company that you’ll work for. As time passes, your career will either drift along under its own accord or you’ll manage where it goes. Which path do you want to take?
Not All Career Ladders Go Up
All too often IT managers believe that there is only one possible path for their careers – up. In the past, this may have been true. However, this is no longer the case.
Over the past few years, companies have changed the way that they are organized. Most companies have become “flatter” – they have reduced the number of layers of management that they use to run the business. What this has meant for IT managers is that there are now fewer opportunities for promotion up the traditional career ladder.
What’s needed is a different career track. The responsibility for managing your career rests firmly on your shoulders. What you need to be doing is looking at your current job and identifying the parts that you enjoy the most.
This can come down to either the different types of work that you are doing or perhaps the it has to do with the different groups within (or outside of) the company that you are interacting with.
Once you identify what you like about your current job, you then need to find another job that contains more of what you like (and less of what you don’t like) to do. The move to this new job may be more of a parallel move instead of a traditional move up the ladder.
Managing your career and ensuring that you are doing work that you enjoy is your responsibility. Career development is just one more thing that you should be doing every day.
What All Of This Means For You
On top of all of the other responsibilities that an IT manager has, you also have to manage your career. Ultimately it’s up to you to take charge of your future and make sure that you have a career and not just a job.
All too often we IT managers believe that a career can only travel in one direction: up. In the world in which we live in, flattened organizations often make this difficult, if not impossible, to do. IT managers need to start to realize that they can move sideways in their careers as they seek new jobs that better match what their interests and passions are.
The one thing that nobody ever takes the time to teach IT managers is how best to manage their own careers. That means that we end up picking it up along the way. The most important point is that we need to always be working on it so that we’ll eventually arrive at the destination that we want to get to.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental IT Leader Newsletter are now available. It’s your career, make the most of it. Subscribe now: Click Here!
Question For You: How many jobs do you think are going to make up your IT manager career?
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Once you become an IT manager, you’d think that you’d pretty much made it – what more could you want? However, it’s really just the start of another journey, not the end. What makes this part of your career potentially different from the parts that came before is that you are the one who is in charge of it. How do you want things to turn out?