How IT Managers Deal With The “N” Word – “Nepotism”

Nepotism is never a good idea for IT managers
Nepotism is never a good idea for IT managers

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Just exactly how did you get your IT manager job? Did you get it because you worked hard and you showed the powers that be that you had IT manager skills and just how good of a leader you could be so that they promoted you? Or did you get promoted because of who you know – dad, mom, grandpa, etc? If you got your IT manager job for all the wrong reasons, then your life is going to become a lot harder in the future…

What is Nepotism & Why Is It Bad?

When an IT worker gets promoted to be a manager and is placed in charge of a team, they have been given authority by the company, but not by the team. In order to get authority from the team, you need to earn it and no amount of IT manager training is going to make this happen. If you’ve gotten your IT manager job by having a special relationship with the boss or because you are related to somebody important (nepotism), you now have a bit of a mess on your hands.

Getting the manager job means that on paper you have the authority to do the tasks that will be required of you. However, your ability to accomplish those tasks is going to rest on your team doing the work and if they don’t view you as having the responsibility to tell them what to do, you’ve got a problem on your hands.

If you find yourself in this unenviable situation where your team believes that you’ve gotten a job that you may not have deserved, then you’re going to have to take the time to prove yourself to them. You are going to need to get beyond the lip-service that your team will be giving you and find ways to truly earn their respect.

How Should IT Managers Be Selected?

If nepotism is not the right way to select IT managers, what then is the correct method? One key point that all too many companies don’t realize is that good technical skills don’t necessarily mean that someone is going to make a good IT manager. All too often engineers who have been big contributors to a project get promoted based on the quality of work that they delivered. This is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Instead, what should be used to determine who should be promoted to be an IT manager is that something special inside of them. Call it what you want, perhaps a “spark of leadership”, but it’s that hard-to-define personal characteristic that shows that you’d make a good leader.

Good IT managers are able to provide their teams with sound leadership. Their sense of judgment is respected by their team and people value their opinions. An IT manager needs to have the self-confidence to make the tough decisions when the situation calls for it.

What Is A Real IT Leader?

Which gets us to the ultimate question: what is a real IT leader? If you are going to want to be an effective leader of an IT team, then you are going to have to win the respect of your team. I’d hope that you got the job because you deserved it, but no matter how you got there, you need to show your team that they should follow you.

True IT leaders have the ability to accurately see into the future. You can’t just make decisions in a vacuum. Instead, you need to be able to understand how any decision that you make today is going to change the future tomorrow.

Managing people is never an easy task. People are messy creatures that come with all sorts of baggage. However, an effective IT leader has the ability to focus on the facts when making a decision. Yes, the human factor is important, but your decisions have to rise above the people involved while not forgetting that the decision will ultimately impact them.

What All Of This Means For You

When you become an IT manager, you want to have the respect and support of the team that you will be managing. Getting the job because of who you know or because of what family you were born into is NOT the right way to become an IT manager.

If you are related to the boss, then you’re going to have a hard road ahead of you. Winning the respect of your team is going to be a challenge no matter how much IT team building you do because they are all going to assume that you didn’t earn the job that you got. The right way to select an IT manager is to be recognized for your leadership skills. Real IT managers have the ability to see the future and guide their teams towards it.

You will only be a successful IT manager with the support of your team. Take the time to work with them and convince them that you have your position because you are the right person for the job. If you can do this, then all of sudden your job as an IT manager just got a lot easier.

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

Question For You: If you are related to the boss, is there anything that he/she can do that will convince your team that nepotism didn’t get you your job?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

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…”