How To Fix A Broken IT Team

by drjim on March 5, 2015

When you have a broken team, you have to fix it

When you have a broken team, you have to fix it
Image Credit: Doctor Rose

Every IT manager dreams of being handed a fantastic team that knows what needs to be done and with a very little bit of direction from you gets right on it. Although this image is a great one to have, all too often our reality is quite different. The team that we are handed is often broken. The previous IT manager was unable to accomplish what was being asked of him or her and has either left or been moved to another project. You are being brought in to fix things. Are your IT manager skills going to be up to this task?

Time To Have A Talk

So where should you start? Let’s face it, whatever this IT team is currently doing is not working – there is a good chance that this is why you have been brought in to lead them. The very first thing that you are going to want to do is nothing. That means that you should not make any big announcements about how things are going to get better or how you are so happy to be here. Nobody is going to believe you and you’ll just lose credibility right off the bat.

Instead, what you are going to want to right after you land in your new job is to take the time to have one-on-one meetings with everyone who is on your team. There are three different questions that you are going to want to ask everyone: how are we doing as a team? what can we do better? and what can I do to make you be more successful? Your goal is going to be to try to find out what is working for the team (everything can’t be broken) and at the same time clearly identify where there are issues that need to be solved.

Your next goal is going to have to be to have a group meeting with your team leaders. What you are going to want to do is to tell them what you have found out during your one-on-one discussions with the members of your team. Based on what you’ve learned, you are going to want to share your conclusions. Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to empower your team leaders to fix what is wrong with your team. This is going to require you to create an agenda and get everyone to agree to it and to deliver what is called for.

Communication Is The Key To Fixing Things

Just telling everyone what needs to be done and then turning them lose is not going to fix what is wrong with your team. Based on the talks that you’ve had with your team I suspect that you are going to make some discoveries about what has caused the team to get into the situation that they now find themselves. One of the big causes is often a lack of communication. You’re going to have to fix this problem.

As the IT manager you are going to have to find ways to create forums that your team can use to communicate not only with you but also with everyone else who is on the team. One of the biggest problems that you’ll probably have to solve is that nobody on the team knows what anyone else is working on. Holding all hands meetings and providing everyone with an opportunity to make a quick statement about their current tasks can go a long way in solving this problem.

Ultimately what any IT manager who has inherited a broken team needs to understand is that the fix for the team will not come from the outside. Instead, the way that a broken team is going to be fixed is from the inside: understanding where the gaps are and then using improved communication to solve the team’s problems.

What All Of This Means For You

Every IT manager wants a team that will make him or her look good. A smooth running team that has the ability to accomplish great things. However, all too often the company will hand us a team that needs some help – a broken team. When this happens we need to use our IT manager training to step up to the task of repairing the team.

The best way to go about doing this is for us to do our homework. This involves talking with everyone on the team so that we have a chance to gain a clear understanding of what is currently working and where the gaps are. Next, we need to implement communications programs that will allow us to stay on top of what is going on and will help everyone on the team to understand what everyone else is working on.

No, fixing an IT team is not an easy thing to do. This is the hardest type of IT team building that there is. However, the good news is that if you can do this type of task well then you’ll be showing your management what you are capable of and that just might convince them to promote you faster!

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

Question For You: How much time do you think that you’ll be given to fix a broken IT team?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

How good of an IT manager are you? I’m willing to bet that no matter how good you think that your IT manager skills are, you also realize that you could probably be better. We all believe this. However, now we run into the big question: how can an IT manager become better? It would be nice if there was some IT manager training for this kind of thing, but there really isn’t. It turns out that the answer is actually fairly simple to understand even if it’s hard to do: you’ve got to do some experimenting.

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