IT Managers Can Only Be Successful If They Have Good Directions

by drjim on October 3, 2013

IT managers need to know what direction their company is going in

IT managers need to know what direction their company is going in
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Think about the last time that you went on a trip somewhere. I’m sure that you packed some clothes, got gas for the car, and of course got directions so that you’d be able to end up where you wanted to. It turns out that being an IT manager is very similar to going on a trip: if you don’t have the right directions then you’re not going to be able to get to where you need to be. You need to have the IT manager skills needed to do this correctly.

What Do You Need To Know?

Sure the idea of getting directions to guide what you and your IT team spend your time working on sure sounds like a good idea; however, just exactly what kind of directions do you need – there is no IT manager training that will teach you this. The answer to this question turns out to be surprisingly simple.

What you need to have a firm grasp of is your company’s objectives and goals. This is important no matter what level of management you are currently at. All too often IT managers say “that’s not my job” and choose to ignore the business drivers that are controlling what the rest of the company is trying to accomplish.

This is a big mistake because what we do in IT enables the rest of the company to be successful. If we don’t have a good understanding of what the departments that our team is supporting are trying to accomplish then we’ll never be able to determine if we’re doing the right work.

How Do You Go About Learning What You Need To Know?

Knowing what you need to be finding out is one part of the puzzle. However, it’s not going to solve your problem. Instead, you have to figure out who has the information that you’re going to need. None of this information is secret, it’s just that it’s not always clear where you have to go to get it.

The key to successfully getting the information that you need is to look one level up your management chain. Ultimately this is the group of customers that your team is going to have to find a way to make successful. Don’t restrict your information gathering to only the IT department’s upper management. Also reach out to managers in the departments that your team serves.

What you are going to want to ask them is for their understanding of how their teams are going to help the company achieve its objectives and goals. They won’t be able to do it all, but they should be able to break off part of it and make it happen. This is what you’re going to have to understand because that’s the part that your IT team is going to be supporting.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

You can’t go on a trip without a map and you can’t manage your IT team without having a good understanding of what your company’s objectives and goals are. Nobody is going to show up and provide you with this information, you are going to have to go out and get it.

Knowing what you need to know, the company’s objectives and goals, is the first step in knowing how to steer your team and what kind of IT team building you need to be working on. The second step is to understand where you are going to have to go to get the information that you need. You need to keep in mind that you may have to reach outside of the IT department to get the full story.

IT managers cannot keep their heads down in code and requirements. We need to make sure that we are aware of what the company that we work for is trying to achieve. The goal of our team needs to be to help the various departments that we work with to be successful. The only way that we can make that happen is to know what their goals are and make them ours.

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

Question For You: Do you think that you should share what you learn about the company’s objectives and goals with your team? If so, how?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Someone who has just been promoted into the role of an IT manager (or an IT manager who has just joined a new company) will find himself or herself in a unique role. They have to very quickly get a “lay of the land” and determine just exactly what the company needs them to do. It’s a bit more complicated than “just mange”. Very few of us have the IT manager skills or IT manager training that this is going to take. Just exactly what should a new IT manager be doing first?

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