How IT Managers Can Become Stuck In Silos

IT managers can't get their employees to grow if they are stuck in silos
IT managers can’t get their employees to grow if they are stuck in silos

Image Credit: Gabriel White

Bad news – your company wants more from you. Specifically, they want you to accomplish more each and every day. They also think that they know what you need to be doing. No longer is it enough that you manage your IT team successfully and deliver your projects on time. Now you are going to be expected to both work closely with other departments in the firm and even with outside vendors. Oh, and you won’t be getting any extra training on how to go about doing this…

It’s Time To Cross Some Lines

As IT managers we work very hard to become good at our jobs. We use our IT manager skills to create budgets that work for our teams, we attend IT manager training in order to develop the skills that we don’t have and we learn how to perform IT team building exercises so that we can get our team to act as a single unit. However, what we’ve never been taught is how to break out of the silo that we’ve built for ourselves. In order to be successful going forward, this is what we’re going to have to do.

It’s not going to be easy for us to give up the ways that we’ve learned to work. The people who look into such things have discovered that the best way for us to break out of our silos is to allow ourselves to be thrust into situations in which we’ll be forced to expand our horizons. Just exactly what this looks like can take on many different forms. Generally, it will involve working on a project that spans multiple different company business units and it may involve you taking on different staff roles.

It’s important for you to understand that you’re not going to be able to do all of this by yourself. Instead, you are going to need to have the support of your upper management. They want you to grow in your current position and these new opportunities are a great way to make that happen. They need to provide you with budgets that will allow you to accomplish all that you have to do.

How You Adapt Will Determine How You Will Succeed

Breaking out of our silos is never an easy thing to do. One of the biggest problems that we’re going to run into is that the company may not be set up to see how well you are adapting to the new challenges that you are facing. The traditional HR tools that they have with which to evaluate you are generally setup to measure other things such as routine management tasks.

Your management in the past has been looking at you to accomplish a variety of routine things. These have included budgeting, planning, and controlling the members of your team. As you are placed into new situations and as you adapt, you will now be using a new set of skills that include inspiring your team, showing leadership, and aligning your team with other departments. You are going to have to make sure that you get evaluated based on how well you’ve adapted.

Instead of waiting for your end-of-the-year performance review with your management, you are going to have to take things into your own hands. Breaking down silos and adapting to new and, sometimes, challenging situations is hard work. What you need to do is to make having talks with your boss(es) about how you are doing more of an organic part of your work. You can’t wait until the end of the year, you are going to have to be discussing these things much more often.

What All Of This Means For You

As IT managers it can be all too easy for us to get good at doing what we feel comfortable doing. Being a successful IT manager is hard work, we can get caught up in the details of keeping our team on track and we can lose sight of the company’s bigger goals.

In order to continue to build our value to the company, we need to break out of our silos. What this means is that we need to find ways to challenge ourselves to do more. The challenges often mean joining multi-departmental teams and working with outside vendors. We’ll be required to adapt to new circumstances and this will require us to make sure that the company is able to evaluate our new set of skills.

IT managers can get stuck in a rut. It might be a good rut – we are doing a good job of performing our job, but it’s still a rut. In order to get out of the rut, we need to break out of our silos and challenge ourselves. No, this is never going to be easy to do. However, the rewards make the risks well worth taking!

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

Question For You: Do you think that you should only ever join one mult-departmental team at a time?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Of all of the IT manager skills that we have, which one is the most important? When we are in an IT manager training class, it can seem as though budgeting, performance reviews, or goal setting are the most important skills. However, it turns out that they are not. Instead, the ability to tell a good story is what distinguishes the so-so IT managers from the really good ones.