Being an IT manager is a tough job. There seem to be a ton of technical details that we always need to be staying on top of: languages, servers, security issues, networking, mobile devices, etc. As we try to master the IT manager skills that are required by an ever changing technical landscape, it can be all too easy to forget what it’s going to take in order to make our team truly effective: the ability to work well with others.This kind of stuff is not covered in any of our IT manager training.
Get Them At Hello
What your IT team may not realize is that how the rest of the company views your team is based on the first impression that they give off. That’s why they need to be on their best behavior when they first meet someone who doesn’t work in the IT department. Remember the saying “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”
What you need to realize as an IT manager is that the way that human memory works is that we remember how a conversation starts and how it ends. What this means is that you’ve got to work with your team to make sure that they start their interactions with outsiders on a positive note and that they end these conversations in an upbeat way.
Master The Phone
One-on-one social skills are critical to ensuring that your team is able to interact well with the rest of the company. However, here in the 21st Century, our companies are often widely distributed and it’s a lot more common that if someone from the outside needs something from your team, they’ll just pick up the phone and call you.
What this means is as the IT manager you are going to have to work with the members of your team to teach them how to deliver top notch customer service over the phone. This starts with teaching them to answer the phone promptly – the last thing that a customer of your team wants to do is to wait while the phone rings before being dropped off on a voicemail system. If someone is not at their desk, someone else on the team needs to pick up the phone. You can go as far as creating a script that everyone uses when talking with an outsider just to make sure that they do it correctly
Pump Up Your Team
As you may have guessed by now, all of this customer service stuff that comes in addition to all of the technical tasks that your team is already performing is going to become very repetitious very quickly. This is exactly where you are going to have to step in and provide some IT team building.
One way to pump your team up is to deliver a pep talk to them on a regular basis. I’ve done this each morning – it was a great way to start the day. I would spend 5 minutes with them and review with them what important customers we were currently dealing with and what major projects were up and coming. My goal was to give my team something different to focus on each day and thereby keep things fresh and interesting.
What All Of This Means For You
How your team interacts with the rest of your company will determine how your IT manager career turns out. Since most of the members of your team have probably never been taught how work with the rest of the company, teaching them how to do this correctly is going to fall on your shoulders.
Even in the world of IT, first impressions count. The first time someone from another department encounters one of your team members, they will form a lasting impression. You need to work with your team to make sure that this is a good impression. More often than not, when another department needs help from your team, they’re going to pick up the phone and call someone. You are going to have to work with your team to make sure that they know how to properly talk on the phone. Finally, it’s going to be all too easy for your technical team to become tired of having to deal with non-technical people. You are going to have to become good at giving pep talks that pump up your team.
How your company views you as an IT manager is going to be based on how well your IT team gets along with the rest of the company. Many of the members of your team may have never been taught how to provide high quality customer service. This means that you are going to have to take the time to show them how it’s done. Yes, this is going to be an effort, but the rewards will make it well worth the effort!
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: How much time each week do you think that you should work with your team on customer service skills?
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental IT Leader Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
As IT managers we often find ourselves in demand by other companies. If we decide to test the waters and go out on a job interview, we’d like to have the company that we’re talking with make us an offer. In order to cause that to happen, we need to do a good job during our IT manager job interview. On top of all of the IT manager training and IT manager skills that we’ll need to communicate during the interview, we’re also going to have to make sure that we ask the right questions. Three questions will be the most important.