Being an IT manager is a hard job. Starting a new role as an IT manager is even tougher. One of the questions that I get asked all of the time is “what should I do right off the bat?” — what IT manager skills do I need to have? It’s a good question, and as with so many of life’s big questions the answer is “… it depends…”
How Will Your Team Treat You?
When you take over as an IT manager, not everyone on your new IT team is going to treat you the same way. Every person on the team may view you differently and you are going to have to find a way to connect with each of them. This is going to be one of your most important first jobs and there really isn’t any IT manager training that’s going to teach you how to handle this situation.
There will be the people who try to win your favor. They’ll be willing to tell you whatever you want to hear and will always be saying the word “yes”. Then there will be the people who want to see you fail. These people will start to test you right off the bat – by asking you questions that they think that you won’t be able to answer.
However, the majority of your new team will be taking a wait-and-see attitude. They are going to be expecting you to prove yourself. You will have an opportunity to win their respect if you do the correct things. This is all that any of us can really ask for.
Who Came Before You?
I’d be willing to bet that you are not the first IT manager that this team has had. This means that you are stepping into the shoes of the manager who came directly before you. How good, or bad, of a manager they were is going to have a very big impact on how much of a challenge you are facing.
You might be thinking that you’d really want the previous manager to have been a very poor manager. The reasoning goes that you won’t have to be all that good and you’ll be able to shine – doesn’t take that much to be better than not that good. However, you’ll be inheriting the team that that manager put together. This means that you might be getting a team that can’t do what it needs to do. Be careful what you wish for!
If you are replacing a high performing manager, you are going to have a much tougher job. The high performing manager probably got promoted and that’s why you are getting this job. You are going to have to make sure that you are seen as being at least as good as they were and, if possible, just a little bit better.
Beware of Change
As an IT manager in a new position, it can be all too easy to want to make your mark on your new team by implementing changes. However, you need to keep in mind that the one thing that every team fears the most is change. This means that you need to move carefully here.
You need to be patient. You need to first take the time to understand how your new team accomplishes things. Before you go making changes, you are going to need to understand what needs to be changed and how best to change it.
As an IT manager you do have the power to make changes (and do some IT team building). However, you need to show some restraint and not use your newfound power right off the bat. Allow your team to become used to you before you go making changes. Yes, they will expect changes to occur; however, minimize how much disruption occurs in their life at any one given time.
What All Of This Means For You
Becoming an IT manager is an exciting challenge. With your new authority comes a great deal of responsibility and your effectiveness is going to depend on how you get things started. This means that you’re going to have to be careful to not make any mistakes right off the bat.
Your team is going to be evaluating you. Some will try to pull you down; however, the majority of them will be waiting for you to prove yourself. How the team viewed the manager who came before you will have a big influence on how easy your job is going to be. Although you may want to make changes, hold off on doing so right off the bat because change can be very disruptive.
The strength of a building depends on the quality of the foundation that was poured for it. The quality of your IT management career depends on the things that you do or don’t do right off the bat when you take over the job. Understand that you need to start to build a relationship with your team and do the right things to make this happen. Get this right and you’re IT manager job will become much easier.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: Do you think following a bad boss or a good boss would be easier?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Doesn’t it feel good to be an IT manager? The people who are running your company have determined that you have the correct IT manager skills and have put you in charge of an IT team and your word is now law. How cool is that? However, before you start cracking the whip and throwing your authority around, you might want to hold off for a bit. There are some good reasons why the best IT managers don’t overdo the authority thing.