What Makes A Job The Perfect IT Job?

by drjim on July 29, 2008

The perfect IT job comes with challenges and acknowledgments

The perfect IT job comes with challenges and acknowledgments

Sorry in advance for going off on a bit of a rant here, but I’ve become fed up with both IT workers and managers who continue to completely miss the boat when it comes to creating, working, and managing exciting and fulfilling IT jobs.

This time my trigger was going out to lunch with a group of my friends who have gotten themselves roped into running one of those internal “High Achiever” IT management programs. You know the type: your boss identifies you as having management potential and so you get picked to attend a weekly/monthly class where they teach you about teamwork and, perhaps, introduce you to other parts of the company. This particular program selects the team to run next year’s program from the students who are participating in this year’s program. My friends had participated in last year’s program and were now complaining about how much of their time running this year’s program was taking up and that they didn’t feel that they were getting anything out of it.

I didn’t actually reach across the lunch table and grab them by their shirt collars; however, I was sorely tempted to do so. My frustration with them came from the simple fact that they were not taking the time to notice that they had been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I asked them how many management training courses their company had sent them to. The answer was, of course, none. I then proceeded to point out to them that what they were doing as a part of running this training course was basically real-world practice for becoming IT directors, executive directors, VPs, etc. The challenge was that none of the students in the class worked for them. This meant that they couldn’t get things done by telling people what to do (managing), instead they were going to have to convince folks to do what they wanted them to do (leadership). This was where the real learning for them was going to take place!

At the end of our lunch, my friends were reinvigorated and pumped up about what they now had to accomplish. Their job had not changed one bit, but the way that they looked at their job had undergone a complete transformation. At the end of the day this is the key to making any IT job a success: you have to clearly identify the challenges that it will be required to solve and the acknowledgments that will be given for solving those challenges. This is exactly what IT staffers are looking for in a job and they will stay if they find it and move on if they don’t.

What really got my goat was trying to understand where were my friends’ managers in all of this? Instead of having to go out to lunch with me to get re-focused and re-energized, their managers should have been doing this on an almost daily basis. Once again it appears as though IT managers have allowed themselves to get too focused on project schedules, code delivery, and server configurations and have missed the key role of IT management: creating challenges and providing acknowledgments. How good of a job are you doing at this?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave April 17, 2009 at 6:10 pm

The issue I have seen is these “managers” have the wrong title. They really are supervisors. Managers provide leadership, and to use an old term that I do not see anymore, Management by Objectives! How many “managers” do you see using MBO anymore?

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Dr. Jim Anderson April 17, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Dave: you can teach management, but you can’t teach leadership! You make a good point. All too often managers spend their time trying to force staff to perform tasks. In reality, they should be setting goals and then motivating everyone to achieve those goals. I guess managing is easier than leading and that’s why more people do it…

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Dave April 18, 2009 at 7:57 am

I see so many “supervisors” who just tell their “Indians” what to do, and then micro manage. No way a race horse will put up with this. There is generally 10 ways to skin a cat also, and the best way was not my way, but the way my “warrior” gets excited about driving. As a “manager”, my goal was to provide the support, and get out of the way. If the project went well, they got the credit. It there was an issue, I took the blame. I see so little of the above MBO management from the “supervisors” anymore.

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