Out Of The Gate: What Should A New IT Manager Do?

by drjim on October 10, 2013

New IT managers are in a race to prove themselves

New IT managers are in a race to prove themselves
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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?

Different Companies Want You To Do Different Things

I’d like to be able to tell you that there is a concrete set of things that every IT manager who finds themselves in a new position should do. However, since every company is just a little bit different, I can’t tell you that.

Instead, what I can tell you is that you need to understand that if you’ve just become an IT manager at a mature organization, they’ll have a set of processes that they’ll be expecting you to follow. Likewise, if you are now an IT manager at a firm that is either new or struggling, you’ll be expected to create your own successful processes.

Most importantly, no matter which situation you find yourself in, you’ve got some learning to do. You are going to have to keep your eyes open and discover what kind of management style is going to work best at this company. Ultimately you are trying to discover the answer to the question “what is needed and how can I help?”

Performing An Assessment

A new IT manager needs to very quickly perform an assessment of the IT department that has been joined. This assessment is going to involve not only taking a look at the IT department as a whole, but also looking at the company and where it is heading and the challenges that it may be facing.

The IT organization can be evaluated by finding the answers to three different questions. What is the department’s current capability to solve problems, capacity to take on new work, and its current challenges? The company needs to be evaluated by determining its issues, needs, and challenges. Note that the answers to these two sets of questions may be very different.

Your role in the IT department will be dependent on the answers that you are able to collect. You need to be keeping your eyes open, looking for indicators that will tell you what the company and the department are looking for you to do. More often than not, you will be asked to either tackle a hot current project, do some IT team building, or to spend your time leading an established team or project. Determine which one is most needed and then get to it.

What All Of This Means For You

It is never easy to be an IT manager who has just been thrown into a new situation. You now have the additional responsibility to determine just exactly what is going to be expected of you as quickly as possible.

The very first thing that you need to do is to realize that different companies will have different expectations of what they want you to do. Take the time to determine what the company and the IT department are trying to accomplish. Then do an assessment of what challenges both are facing. By answering these questions you’ll know what your next step needs to be.

Every successful IT manager was once a new IT manager. How they became successful can be traced back to the first steps that they took once they joined the new department. Learn from how they tackled the challenge of learning about the IT department and the company that it is a part of. Once you’ve solved this problem, everything else is going to look much easier!

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

Question For You: Do you think that you should share the results of your assessment with your manager?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As IT Managers we can always be learning and improving our IT manager skills by watching what other IT organizations are doing. A fantastic opportunity has just shown up in the U.S. As part of the Obamacare overhaul of how healthcare is provided to U.S. citizens, a new web site has been set up to allow every U.S. citizen an opportunity to register for healthcare insurance coverage. All has not gone well and that’s where the real learning for CIOs is happening…

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