He Shoots! He Scores! Why Goals Are Important To IT Leaders

by drjim on October 14, 2010

IT Managers need goals in order to win at the game of IT

IT Managers need goals in order to win at the game of IT

Being an IT Leader is a hard job. On any given day, you’ll have multiple people pulling on you trying to get you to do 100 different things. The question that you have to keep asking yourself is “what should my team be working on right now?”

This is exactly where new IT managers can get lost. They try to spend their limited time working on everything and they end up getting nothing done. The key to you being successful as an IT Leader is to do a good job of setting goals for your team. It may sound easy, but it turns out that it’s a bit tricky to do correctly…

Goals: Why Bother?

One of the first questions that needs to be answered is simply “Why?” Identifying and establishing goals is an effort and takes time. As an IT Leader, you are busy and this may not appear to be a critical task – perhaps you could skip it.

Yes you could, but don’t. The process of setting goals is how you commit to outcomes that either you or your team are able to accomplish. The reason that goals are so important is because they provide you with a clear focus – now you know what you need to be spending your precious limited time and resources on.

It’s this very focus that will allow you to stay the course. You will be less likely to be distracted by all of the other tasks that are clambering for your attention. You and your team know what you need to be working on and because you can focus on these tasks you’ll end up achieving your goals and being more successful.

Company Goals Should Drive Team and Individual Goals

Company Goals Should Drive Team and Individual Goals

Where To Start?

If I can get you to agree that goals for an IT Leader are important, then we’re on the right path. The next big question that comes up now is just how one goes about determining what your goals should be?

It turns out that the basic source for your team’s goals is already well known to you: it’s the company that you work for. Every company has a set of enterprise goals that get announced to investors and distributed throughout the company.

The goals that your team creates need to relate back to the company’s strategic goals. You can’t just parrot the company’s goals as your team’s goals. The reason is because your team can’t make the company’s goals happen. Rather, you need to scale down each of the company’s goals and identify how your team can contribute to the company’s goal.

It’s All About Understanding

If you just “set and forget” your goals, then you and your team will be missing out on the real power of having clearly defined goals. Once again, knowing what your goals are will help everyone on your team to prioritize all of the tasks that they are asked to perform. If it relates to a goal, then great – they should be working on it. If it doesn’t, then they probably should defer working on it for now.

Additionally, helping the members of your team relate their personal goals back to the company’s overall goals is a great way to keep your team together. If they can see how the work that they are doing on a daily basis is helping the company to achieve what it’s trying to do, then they will feel as though they are truly contributing to something that is larger than they are. Isn’t this what we all want?

What All Of This Means For You

As an IT Leader, you’ve got a tough job to do. You’ve got to establish a direction for your team and make sure that everyone doesn’t get distracted while they are working towards it.

The good news is that you have a powerful tool that can help you to be successful: goals. By starting with the company’s stated goals and using them to create related but customized goals for your team, you’ll have given everyone the ability to determine what they should and should not be working on.

All too often goals are seen as a necessary evil in IT departments. They get set at the beginning of the year and then they get ignored until the end of the year review. Stop doing this and start using good goals to motivate and manage your team. Success will be much easier to achieve once you’ve got goals on your side.

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

Question For You: How many goals do you think are needed for an IT team?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Everyone needs goals. As an IT Leader, it’s going to be your responsibility to help your team set both team and individual goals. Although at first this sounds pretty straightforward, in practice it often turns out to be a bit tricky. The most important question that you’re going to have to answer is which way do you want to go about setting goals: top-down or bottom-up?

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