Why IT Managers Can’t Pay Attention And What To Do About It

by drjim on February 2, 2012

Image Credit  Why Can't IT Managers just keep their minds on the task at hand?

Why Can't IT Managers just keep their minds on the task at hand?

How’s that job going IT manager? Do you find yourself and your IT team more and more often with too much to do and too few hands with which to do it? If so then maybe both of you are suffering from “IT Manager Attention Deficit Syndrome”. What can you do about it?

The Madness Of Trying To Do Too Much

So just exactly what does an IT manager do? A lot of what we are asked to take care of has to do with the routine stuff: keeping systems up, making sure that we have enough of the right kinds of IT staffing, completing IT projects, etc. It’s when we get sidetracked with the big “special projects” that our leadership can go off track.

Special projects, no matter if they are IT focused projects or company-wide projects that impact IT, can easily suck up a great deal of a IT manager’s limited time. We all know that these types of projects are important to the company in the long run; however, they are very expensive in terms of the time that they require in the short term.

What all this means is that IT managers need to learn how to live double lives. On one hand they need to keep doing what they’ve always been doing: using their management skills to make sure that the day-to-day IT department operations keep running smoothly. On the other hand, they need to make sure that each milestone of the special project is met on time and on budget. What’s an IT manager to do?

How To Keep It All In Balance

A big question that faces every IT manager is how best to keep themselves and their IT team on track given all of the work that they have to get done. One solution, of course, is to maintain a list of the various ongoing projects. This list can be used to make sure that you check on each project’s status every day.

A better solution is to realize who’s actually doing all of the work: your team. This means that you need to carve the time out of your schedule to socialize with them and let them know that you appreciate them keeping the ship running while at the same time working on the special projects.

Having meetings to allow different members of your team to update everyone on where their part of the program is at is a great idea. However, this part of the solution can be overdone. Make sure that you hold the right number of meetings – not too many and not too few. Remember that time spent in meeting is time that could be used making progress on the various projects!

What All Of This Means For You

In our hurry-up world, more and more IT managers are discovering that they have too much to do and not enough time in which to do it. What this means is that if they aren’t careful, things are going to start to get dropped.

In order to prevent this from happening, IT managers need to first detect that they have become overloaded. Once they know this, they need to take action. One thing that they can do is to take the time to let their IT dream team know that they appreciate all that they are doing for them. This will allow everyone to know that you understand that they are trying to do both their normal jobs as well as all of the IT special projects that seem to pop up.

It seems sort of counter-intuitive that the best way for a IT manager to manage too many responsibilities for himself and his team is to slow down and take time to connect with his team. However, it turns out that by doing this you can keep everyone working together and help everyone complete the things that need to be done.

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

Question For You: What’s the best way to detect when you and your IT team have become overloaded?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In tough times, every IT manager has seen their share of IT workers leave the company. Sometimes they leave because they find a job that they think will be a better fit for them or sometimes the company tells them to leave. No matter what the cause, the one thing that you don’t want them to do is leave unhappy. I’ve got some bad news for you – that’s exactly what is happening.

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