I can’t tell you how often I get asked the question “what does it take to be a good IT manager?” As with all such simple questions, there is no one simple answer. The truth is that to be a really good IT manager you need to have a very special mix of both technical and soft IT manager skills. The big question is just exactly what soft skills does an IT manager need to have?
Soft Skills That An IT Manager Needs To Have
The idea of needing to have the soft skills that are required to be a successful IT manager is pretty straightforward. However, let’s take a closer look and see if we can nail down just exactly what skills you are going to need some IT manager training on in order to master…
- Business Writing: the ability to write well and write clearly is a key IT manager skill. One thing that too many of us overlook is that business writing requires you to have a business vocabulary: your knowledge of IT acronyms will not serve you here.
- Proposal Writing: this type of writing is unlike much of the writing that an IT manager does on a daily basis. The target is a potential customer and so you will need to be able to talk about your IT project in terms of benefits, not features.
- Presentation Skills: you may have the best ideas in your head, but if you can’t communicate them to others then they are worthless. IT managers need to have good presentation skills so that they can let their best ideas out.
- Facilitation: making life easier for other people at the company is not part of any IT manager’s job description; however, if you can do this well then you’ll earn the respect and admiration of others and they will be more willing to help you when you need it.
- Running a Meeting: love ‘em or hate ‘em, meetings are how and where things get done in the modern workplace. Anybody can hold a meeting; however, it takes a skilled IT manager to actually run a meeting and get the participants to work together during the meeting to achieve a shared goal.
- Listening: for IT managers who like to speak, this can be the hardest thing to learn. The more that we listen, the better that we will understand our team and our partners.
- Interviewing: an IT manager is only as effective as their team is. This means that you need to have the ability to select the right people to join your team and that means that you are going to have to master the interviewing process.
- Influencing: as an IT manager you will only have so much power. However, you’ll need a lot of other people to do what you need them to do in order to be successful. What this means is that you’ll need to be able to influence them to do what you want them to do. No easy task.
- Giving And Receiving Feedback: nobody on your team is perfect, including you. This means that you need to learn how to give feedback to members of your team in order to help them to improve.
- Conflict Resolution: conflicts will always arise in any team situation. You can’t stop them from occurring; however, you can take steps to defuse them once they occur. You need to be able to recognize the situation and then step in quickly before things get out of hand.
- Negotiating: life is one big negotiation. Other groups will have things that you want to have and you’ll have control over things that they want. It’s through negotiating that you’ll be able to reach a deal with them that both of you will be able to live with.
- Creative / Promotional Writing: the projects that your IT team works on are probably quite interesting from a technical point-of-view. However, in order to share what you’ve created with the rest of the company, you’ll need to have the ability to write about the work that your IT team has done in a way that will be interesting for people who didn’t work on your project to read.
- Email Communication: every company runs on email. You’ll need to have the ability to express yourself clearly and concisely via email. If people have to work to understand your emails, then you won’t be an effective IT manager.
- Editing / Copywriting: in the world of IT we know that version 1.0 of anything is not the version that you want to buy. The same thing goes for written material. When members of your team create written material, you are going to have to have the skills to review and edit it in order to make it better than it was.
- Proofreading: one of the most important skills that any IT manager can have is the ability to spot his or her own mistakes. This means that you have the ability to re-read your own work and spot the mistakes that other people would find if they were reading it.
- Writing Job Descriptions: there is no way that you can hire the right people to join your IT team it you can’t tell them what you are going to need them to do. This means that you are going to have to have the ability to document both what you’ll need a candidate to do for the company and what skills they need to bring to the job.
What All Of This Means For You
All too often people believe that having superior technical skills means that somebody is well suited to becoming an IT manager. It turns out that this is not the case – there are a lot of soft skills that are also needed.
When you look at the soft skills that are needed to be an effective IT manager, something should jump out at you. A large number of these skills require you to have the ability to communicate clearly. Especially in written form. Having this skill will also help you when it comes time to do some IT team building.
A good IT manager can be a very hard thing for a company to find. The list of skills that are needed goes on and on. However, once you develop these skills you will become very valuable to the company that chooses to employ you.
- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: Do you think that social media skills need to be another skill that IT managers will need in the future?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Big data, Hadoop, Facebook, income statements – whew! At times the amount of information that an IT manager needs to understand and process can seem to be overwhelming. Let’s take just a moment to take a step back. Just what exactly are the very basic IT manager skills that evey IT manager needs in order to be successful in their career?