Managing an IT team has always been a challenge and with the recent economic challenges that every firm has faced, it has become harder. What IT managers are discovering is the members of their team are shell shocked. They are stuck in survival mode in which they are trying to keep their heads down just in case there is going to be another round of layoffs. As an IT manager, you are going to have to use your IT manager skills to do something about this…
The Root Of The Problem
What IT managers want from their team is new ideas. What they are currently getting is a team that is afraid to do new things. A lot of IT employees are currently stuck in survival mode. They are constantly thinking about the possibility that they might still lose their job. This causes them to deliberately avoid making any decisions that might cause the company to lose money and thereby attract unwanted attention to themselves. What this means for an IT manager is that the members of their team are standing around waiting to be told what to do.
The only way that your company is going to both grow and effectively compete with the other firms in your market is by having your employees have bold ideas and be willing to take calculated gambles. The problem that you are dealing with is that your employees have developed an allergy to risk. They are still feeling the after affects of all of those rounds of layoffs and cost-cutting activities.
Within most IT departments a lot of the talk has shifted to center on company profits. Anything that would take away from those profits in the short term is considered to be “bad”. However, firms need to find a way to convince their IT employees to take more chances in the hopes that these chances will generate both ideas and breakthroughs that will provide the company with new business opportunities.
What IT Managers Need To Make Happen With Their Employees
One of the reasons that your IT team members are behaving this way is because they are assuming that this is the way that you want them to behave. There can be a number of reasons why this is happening. One such reason is due to IT managers talking too much about the company’s financial pressures. These conversations are heard and they can cause employees to retreat even more.
What you are going to have to do is to use your IT manager training to teach your employees that failure is once again an option. They need to know that if they try something and it fails, they won’t be fired. In fact, this is exactly the kind of experimentation that you want them to be working on. The key factor that they need to realize is that you want them to “fail fast”. You want them to determine that an approach is not going to work and then to move on to something else quickly.
Failure is such a key part of finding those innovative ideas that encouraging it has to be part of your job. There are a lot of ways to go about making failure happen in your work place. One way that has worked for other IT managers is to hand out “get out of jail free” cards. When a team member tries a new idea that does not work out, they can present you with this card and no action against them will be taken!
What All Of This Means For You
Just about every IT team out there is damaged. The trauma of the rounds of layoffs and downsizing that has occurred over the past few years has created an IT workforce that is unable to make decisions. As an IT manager, it’s going to be up to you to rebuild your team.
Right now no IT team member is willing to stick their neck out because they are fearful that the rounds of layoffs might not be over. The result of this is that companies are not going to get the innovative ideas that they need in order to succeed in a competitive marketplace. As an IT manager you are going to have to change this. You are going to have to convince your team that they have your permission to fail. You just need to make them understand that they need to fail fast.
Managing an IT team is a full time job. Managing a damaged IT team is even more of an effort. You are going to have to use all of your IT team building skills to find ways to get your team to once again get the courage to take risks. This might be a great opportunity for you to lead by example…
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: When a team member fails, what should you do as an IT manager?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Hello IT manager. I’ve got a quick question for you: who is more famous, you or the members of your team? Most of the time we’d say that we’re more famous, I mean after all we’re managers with IT manager skills and the members of our team are just front line workers. However, now that we’re living in the era of social media, this may have all changed. You just might have a rock star working on your team. What are you going to do about that?